SMU lifted its mask requirement on campus Tuesday, May 18, according to a university announcement.
The lifted mask mandate is effective immediately, with two exceptions: Masks will still be required in classrooms until May 28, the end of May Term. Additionally, the Bob Smith Health Center will require masks until further instruction.
After this date, faculty will have “the discretion” to require masks in their classrooms. Professors will communicate to students whether or not they require masks prior to the start of a course and on the syllabus.
“Medical guidance and a sharp reduction in COVID-19 cases on and off campus, including no new cases, isolations or quarantines reported at SMU since May 5, contributed to this decision,” the university said in a statement this morning.
The university has been transparent it wants to move to a fully in-person fall semester. Easing masking mandates, the university said, is the next step toward that goal.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said on May 14 that fully vaccinated individuals can participate in indoor activities without wearing a mask or social distancing.
However, SMU’s statement did not mention the CDC’s guidance as a reason for the lift of the mask mandate; SMU said the lift of the mask mandate applies to all people regardless of their vaccination status.
“The President’s Executive Council (PEC) made this decision after considering input from SMU’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC),” the university wrote. “… It is important to recognize that some people in our community may not be vaccinated.”
The health center received a shipment of Johnson & Johnson vaccines on May 18 in addition to its previous supply of Pfizer vaccines.
As with reporting COVID-19 cases and vaccination status, SMU is relying on the self-reporting and personal discretion of its campus community in their decision to continue masking.
“[Some] may choose to wear a mask for their own protection and that of others. Please continue to show respect for individual decisions and responses to the health concerns of the pandemic,” the university said.