Universities in Springfield write joint letter, asking city leaders to extend mask mandate
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Presidents and chancellors from four universities and colleges in Springfield have written a letter asking city leaders to extend its mask mandate.
The letter, dated for Sept. 25, 2020, is directed to mayor Ken McClure and the Springfield City Council. It was signed by Missouri State University president Clifton M. Smart III, Evangel University president Carol A. Taylor, Drury University president J. Timothy Cloyd and Ozarks Technical Community College chancellor Hal Higdon.
The city of Springfield officially issued a mandate requiring face coverings for 90 days on July 16, 2020 in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19. The 90-day period would end in mid-October.
Throughout the pandemic, Springfield-Greene County Health Director Clay Goddard has said “we are not an island," when urging leaders in areas outside of the county to take on a masking ordinance. College leaders now echo that in their letter to city council stating, “We realize that none of us live in a bubble and the safety of our community will be reduced if the ordinance is not renewed.”
“I think it’s a very powerful voice from major institutions that have implemented these practices and they believe in them,” said Goddard.
David Hall, director of University Safety at Missouri State University, said leaders from colleges across the Ozarks meet on a regular basis.
“That’s where the idea came up is we need to submit something to city council where they are aware of, collectively, what our opinions are in how we feel about the masking ordinance," Hall said.
In the letter, leaders say a mask mandate extension would help the universities safely serve around 40,000 students and faculty members. The letter says all four schools have seen a reduction in COVID-19 cases since students began following the masking, physical distancing and proper hygiene guidance.
“We know that masks are an effective way for us to reduce the spread," Hall said. “We will continue this on our campus and yet we also feel that it’s important that everyone participate so that we really maximize keeping the numbers down and the spread within our community.”
Hall said many of their students and faculty live off campus. That’s one of the things that worries the colleges most.
”It doesn’t make sense to have a some people that are covered under it, and in other locations that you go to it’s not because we all interact with each other," Hall said.
Goddard says the letter sends a powerful message from major institutions.
“I’m grateful for the leadership and willingness to step out there," Goddard said during a news conference Monday.
The schools will continue to require masks through the fall semester, even if Springfield allows its mask mandate to expire.
You can read the attached letter below:
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