With students returning to campus ahead of the fall semester, Mississippi State University has announced an update to its COVID-19 polices. This includes universal masking indoors for students, faculty, staff and visitors, regardless of vaccination status.
“All of us at Mississippi State University look forward to the start of the Fall 2021 semester. Our plans, as noted in prior announcements, were for a return to an open and traditional university environment. That type of environment remains our goal and guides our policymaking process – but is not yet fully possible in our current rapidly evolving public health situation,” an announcement states.
The new policy, which follows recommendations from the Mississippi State Department of Health, comes as the Delta variant has caused a sustained surge of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Mississippi and across the country.
The temporary policy will require masks for all indoor activities and in all indoor locations on all Mississippi State campuses. That includes non-personal vehicles and public transit. The only exceptions will be in private offices.
“After the first few weeks of the Fall 2021 semester, it is our hope that MSU may be able to move to mask-optional policies if the number of cases on campus and in the community decreases, and vaccination rates improve substantially. MSU will regularly reevaluate the need to continue the mask requirement. We believe this significant preventative measure will enable us to safeguard activities like tailgating, student events, and other normal parts of university life,” the announcement continues on to say.
Vaccinations remain optional and are not required for students and staff.
Similar policies could be announced at other universities across the state in the coming days.