Earlier this month, the University of Missouri Board of Curators voted to extend the campus mask mandate until Oct. 15. Upon the new expiration date, the board will meet again to discuss whether another extension is necessary.
Mun Y. Choi, the president of the University of Missouri System, shared a presentation to lead the discussion. Choi said one consideration was the high transmission rates in Missouri, especially with the new delta variant.
“The CDC, as you know, has identified the counties that house our four universities to be in what is the high community transmission level,” Choi said.
The decision is similar to that of other area schools, as Johnson County Community College, the University of Kansas, Rockhurst University and all Metropolitan Community College campuses will have indoor mask policies in place until further notice.
“Based on the current evidence, we strongly believe that the protections that we have are working in terms of providing a more protective environment for our universities,” Choi said. “When we look at the number of our students and faculty and staff that are COVID-19 active cases, it is significantly lower than many other universities that do not have a mask mandate.”
Obie Austin, director of the Student Health and Wellness Center at UMKC, also emphasized the importance of wearing masks to keep transmission rates down. Austin said that the university currently conducts nearly 30 COVID-19 tests every day and that they are only seeing one or two new positive cases daily.
“We are actually trending pretty low,” Austin said. “The most important thing right now is to get vaccinated, that is the thing that reduces the risk the most and keeps you safe.”