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Missouri State University-West Plains (MSU-WP) will begin the 2021 fall semester with a temporary masking policy.
Beginning Aug. 22, masks will be required in all buildings on campus. The policy, which is very similar to the policy implemented last school year, will be reevaluated every 30 days to determine if it will be extended, university officials said.
“As we’ve seen in recent weeks, COVID-19 continues to heavily impact our region, state and nation,” MSU-WP Interim Chancellor Dennis Lancaster said. “Research has shown this Delta variant is more contagious. Based on this research the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) now recommends everyone – unvaccinated individuals and those fully vaccinated – wear masks indoors in public settings.
“None of us like wearing masks, but we know they can mitigate the spread of this disease and protect the ones we love; therefore, we will start the year with an indoor masking policy and monitor the situation for 30 days afterward to see if the policy will need to be extended,” he added.
Factors that will be considered for extending the policy include the number of COVID-19 cases on campus and in the area, vaccinations, quarantines/isolations, hospitalizations and academic impacts, Lancaster said.
University officials will continue to work closely with local, regional and state healthcare and public health leaders, government officials and other institutions in the state to navigate MSU-WP’s response to the pandemic.
CAMPUS WILL BE OPEN
Despite the policy, MSU-WP will be fully open when classes begin Aug. 23. Annual back-to-school activities such as Welcome Week and the new student convocation will take place as usual, Lancaster stressed.
“We will continue with our plan to offer in-person classes and activities. Students have indicated they want to be on campus this fall and enjoy a full-college experience” Lancaster said.
The quickest way to get back to normal, however, is to vaccinate as many members of the campus community as possible, he said. A vaccination clinic for the campus community will occur 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 25 in the Student Recreation Center as part of Welcome Week activities.
A list of other vaccination opportunities in West Plains also is available on the campus’s COVID-19 Information Center, WP.MissouriState.edu/Coronavirus.
“We want to encourage students, faculty and staff to participate in our vaccination incentive programs, as well,” Lancaster said.
For more information about the policy and MSU-WP’s COVID-19 response, visit WP.MissouriState.edu/Coronavirus.