Texas and Mississippi Universities Respond to Lifted Mask Mandates

By  - 
Three female college students wearing face masks using technology working in computer lab.

This week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, both Republicans, announced the lifting of statewide facial mask mandates, forcing the higher education community to reiterate necessary safety protocols.

“While great progress has been made and our numbers are trending substantially down, we are not yet past this public health threat,” Mississippi State University President Mark E. Keenum said in a Wednesday statement. “We believe that it is prudent to keep basic safety protocols in place through the end of this semester.”

Many Texas colleges and universities are reviewing Abbott’s executive order and maintaining current mask-required protocols.

“We are awaiting input from UT System about the implications of GA-34 and its effect on UTSA’s current operations, as well as on our planning for the summer and fall terms, campus events, commencement, etc. Until then, our campus operations remain the same,” the University of Texas at San Antonio said in a statement

The University of Houston’s Twitter account was met with criticism from faculty and students after it tweeted that the school is currently reviewing Abbott’s new order “to determine the safest path forward.”

“I am a loud and PROUD coog, but I’m also immunocompromised,” one Twitter user wrote. “Please protect students like us by keeping all protocols in place!! It is not safe yet I want me and my 88 yr old grandma I help take care of to be alive and healthy the day I get my degree.”

Both President Joe Biden and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, have spoken against rescinding COVID-19 safety protocols.

“I would advise the people of Texas and Mississippi to just abide by the public health measures we talk about all the time,” Fauci told MSNBC’s Morning Joe show on Thursday.

“We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because of the way in which we’re able to get vaccines in people’s arms,” Biden said at a White House press conference on Wednesday. “The last thing, the last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking, that, ‘In the meantime, everything’s fine. Take off your mask. Forget it.’ It still matters.”