Truman requires masks for new COVID-19 policy

With the recent surge of COVID-19 cases across Adair County and the state of Missouri, Truman State University has changed some of its COVID-19 Policy.  

With the start of the fall semester, the University decided that masks will be required indoors. 

An email was sent out to members of the Truman community June 3 that stated, “Classrooms to return to regular capacities, further details coming soon.” The email also discussed how a mask policy required further consideration, and would be updated by June 30. 

During this period of further consideration, the University sent out a survey to students requesting their opinions about wearing a mask on campus. There was a 54.8% response rate among

 Truman students. Of those that responded, 88.9% of those students said they were fully vaccinated. If a student responded that they were not vaccinated, then they were asked a few further questions. Of the students that were not fully vaccinated, 40.2% of them said they plan to be vaccinated by the fall semester, 30.7% said they might be vaccinated by the fall semester and 28.6% said they have no plans to be vaccinated by fall.

The same survey was conducted among University staff, with a 67.5% response rate. 96.5% of the staff respondents reported being fully vaccinated already. Of the staff who were not fully vaccinated, 18.8% said they plan to be vaccinated by the fall semester, 25% said they might be vaccinated by the fall semester and 56.2% said they have no plans to be vaccinated by the fall semester. 

Around the time this survey took place, COVID-19 rates across the country were falling. The seven-day average for cases in Missouri on June 18 was 621. In Adair County, the active case count was 14. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also released guidance May 13, stating that fully vaccinated individuals did not need to wear a mask in most circumstances.

With the survey results, low case counts and new CDC guidelines, Truman revised its mask policy and sent an email July 1. 

This fall, vaccinated individuals are not required to wear masks indoors or

outdoors,” the email states. “Unvaccinated individuals are strongly advised to wear masks when indoors or attending a crowded outdoor event. Individuals who have underlying medical conditions or are more comfortable wearing a mask are encouraged to do so.”

The email also discussed how students would not be required to provide proof of vaccination status. 

After this email was sent out, COVID-19 cases began to rise again. On July 27, the CDC updated its guidelines to say that fully vaccinated people should wear a mask indoors. At this time, the seven-day average of cases in Missouri was 2,466. In Adair County, there were 65 active cases, a four times increase in weekly COVID cases since the mid-June

The University sent out another email Aug. 3 stating that students will be required to wear masks indoors. 

“Starting Aug. 9, Truman will require everyone, regardless of vaccination status, to wear masks while inside campus buildings, with exceptions for dining and when in a personal residence hall room, or office,” the email states. “Currently, this is the only change to the previously announced fall plan. Modes of instruction, room capacities and on-campus events will continue under previously established guidelines. Truman will review and reevaluate the mask policy by Sept. 17, with guidance from the CDC, the Adair County Health Department and local and state public health professionals.”

As the start of the semester gets closer, case counts have continued to rise. As of Aug. 12, Adair County had 129 active cases and Missouri had a seven-day average of 2,270 active cases. 

There will be vaccination clinics available to Truman students through the Student Health Center, and the University strongly encourages students who can get vaccinated to do so.