Springfield-area universities are preparing for the fall semester as a wave of coronavirus cases continues to flood southwest Missouri.
The semester beginning comes with a mix of requirements and recommendations for face masks worn indoors, according to university documents.
"We will reevaluate the policy every 30 days, meaning the first review date has been set for Sept. 21. If necessary, we will extend the policy," MSU President Clif Smart wrote in an Aug. 10 blog post. "I — like many of you — don’t like wearing a mask, and I don’t have any interest in instituting a mask policy that will last forever. However, we will start the fall semester with a temporary policy requiring masks indoors throughout campus."
Drury and OTC officials also signaled plans to review the indoor masking policies every 30 days based on case counts, the community’s vaccination status and other factors.
At Evangel and Southwest Baptist universities, masks will be recommended for all students and staff but not required, according to school officials. College of the Ozarks is recommending masks for unvaccinated individuals.
At the K-12 level, Springfield Public Schools is requiring all students and staff to wear masks, the district announced late last month.
In Greene County, the seven-day average for cases is 146, with 220 people currently hospitalized, according to the Springfield-Greene County Health Department's COVID-19 dashboard. The data indicate 43.4% of the eligible local population is fully vaccinated. So far in August, the average age of those who have died from COVID-19 is 59. The average age of those who died from COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic is 77, according to the Health Department.
417 Cocktails LLC moved; 7 Brew Coffee added its first shop in Lebanon; and Branson outlet store for Baltimore, Maryland-based sports apparel retailer Under Armour relocated.