Utah Gov. Spencer Cox signed a bill March 22 to lift the statewide mask mandate starting April 10, but certain restrictions will still be required on Dixie State University’s campus until the semester ends.
President Richard “Biff” Williams said protecting students and faculty while keeping campus stakeholders in the loop is the top priority, and subcommittees of the university’s COVID-19 Task Force and members of his cabinet are still strategizing how to fully adjust to the COVID-19 updates.
“Class conduct and instruction will stay the same through the end of the semester,” Williams said.
While masks will not be required outdoors or when social distancing is possible, they may still be compulsory during planned outdoor student events.
Josh Thayn, executive director of events services and risk management, said there has been a high success rate of preventing the spread of COVID-19 via the use of masks, and since the semester will be over shortly after the mandate lifts, the simplest option is to keep wearing them at least until summer.
Both Williams and Thayn confirmed that maintaining the current mask rules for indoor settings is in line with all Utah System of Higher Education peers and K-12 public schools in the state.
Thayn said, “Continuing the current mask policy and other mitigating measures will allow for more individuals to receive their vaccines and will help keep our campus community safe and moving in the right direction to help us return to normal more quickly.”
As more students and faculty get immunized for COVID-19, the university hopes to open at full capacity without any social distancing or mask restrictions in fall 2021.
Like in the fall 2020 semester, if students should refuse to continue wearing masks on campus after April 10, they can request to opt into all live-streamed classes for remote learning.
Unless a student meets the criteria required to be exempt from wearing a mask, any student who fails to comply with the continued mask protocol may be asked to leave class by their professor, denied access to buildings on campus or escorted off the university property by campus security, according to DSU’s website.
Michael Lacourse, vice president of academic affairs and university provost, said the DSU administration believes all students will be cooperative in following the health guidelines until further notice.
“We are grateful that students have adhered to the mask and social distancing requirements during the fall semester and most of the spring semester,” Lacourse said. “We ask that students be respectful of the faculty and their fellow students and continue with wearing their masks.”