Southern Methodist University

SMU Requires Masks in Campus Buildings, Cites Delta Variant

The requirement is temporary and due to the "delta variant surge," president R. Gerald Turner said.

NBC 5 News

SMU is requiring masks inside campus buildings effective Thursday, the university said in a letter to students and families Wednesday.

In the message, president R. Gerald Turner defined masks as "two or more layers covering the nose and mouth" and said the requirement would apply to all indoor spaces except private spaces like dorms.

He cited "the delta variant surge" for the mask requirement.

"This requirement is a temporary precaution during the delta variant surge to supplement our other pandemic protocols," Turner wrote. "We will continue to monitor and review industry-specific guidance and recommendations from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state public health authorities in order to make the best decisions for our community."

Amid the surge in COVID-19 cases, Turner also said all events, including the Dallas university's convocation and orientation, would continue as planned.

SMU is currently offering only in-person learning and no longer offering virtual classes.

Residential students who test positive for COVID-19 or are a close contact of a positive case will have to quarantine, according to the school's protocols.

Any residential student identified as a close contact with proof of vaccination will not have to quarantine, however.

Turner also strongly encouraged COVID-19 vaccinations.

SMU currently hosts a vaccination site at the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center.

"We believe that many more are vaccinated than have reported, and are reaching out to students and employees to encourage them to report through the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center so we have a better estimate of our campus vaccination rates," Turner said.

The university did not say what percentage of its students are vaccinated or voluntarily reported their COVID-19 vaccine.

Dallas County judge Clay Jenkins issued an emergency order for mask requirements Wednesday, requiring all child care centers, PreK-12 public schools and commercial entities to develop a health and safety policy, that must require, at a minimum, universal indoor masking.

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