Masks will be recommended indoors at MU but not required after the mask mandate expires Friday.

The mask mandate was initially put in place on Aug. 2 and was renewed by the University of Missouri System Board of Curators in September. 

In an email sent to campus Thursday morning, MU asked students, faculty and staff to wear masks in all indoor spaces, especially when social distancing is not possible, regardless of vaccination status. 

The university said case numbers have remained low during the fall semester, and local hospitals are keeping up with COVID-19 patients. As of Thursday morning, the university reported 26 active student cases and 12 active cases among faculty and staff.

Boone County reported 355 active cases on Wednesday afternoon. Hospitals are in yellow status, which means they are operating within standard capacity but might be delaying procedures or not accepting referrals.

The university said the new guidance for campus was in line with CDC recommendations and the health advisory for Boone County. Other campuses must follow the local guidelines for the area. St. Louis and Kansas City have mask mandates, while Phelps County recommends masks indoors.

The CDC lists Boone County as having high community transmission. The most recent guidelines recommend masks indoors for everyone, regardless of vaccination status, in areas with high transmission.

MU Health Care and certain facilities in the College of Veterinary Medicine may continue to enforce mask mandates specific to their units. 

MU spokesperson Christian Basi advises that students with a specific health concern contact the disability center.

“Masks are still going to be recommended in the classroom, and faculty members can definitely ask their students to wear masks," Basi said. "However, they cannot require them nor can they assess any kind of penalty to a student for not wearing them.

“If a student is concerned about exposure to COVID-19 because of a medical condition, we can recommend or the faculty member can recommend that the student reach out to the disability center to determine if there is some type of accommodation that can be made.”

Classrooms returned to standard capacity this fall. Basi noted while there might be limited space, faculty could have students spread out to social distance.

Students interested in scheduling an appointment to get a COVID-19 vaccine can schedule an appointment at multiple locations, including MU Health Care or with the city of Columbia. In addition, campus flu shot clinics will also offer COVID-19 vaccine options for students, faculty and staff.

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