On Thursday, Oct. 28, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette released a statement stating that the university would continue to enforce the wearing of masks on campus, despite the statewide lifting of the mask mandate.
“The University’s masking protocol has worked to successfully limit the spread of COVID-19, and we believe leaving the policy in place will enable us to continue to protect the well-being of the campus community,” the email from the university reads.
According to the email, all students must wear masks inside, and non vaccinated students must wear masks at crowded events.
Some exceptions to the rule include faculty who are alone in their offices and those who are participating in sports or other athletic events.
This is in line with the current policy, which the email states, will continue to be in effect.
“(T)he University of Louisiana at Lafayette will continue to follow its Interim Face Covering Policy and its COVID-19 health and safety guidelines through the end of the fall semester,” reads the email from the university.
The statement also says that people who are outside on campus are not required to wear masks, but they are recommended by the university.
According to Carl Taz Wininger, the Director of the Environmental Health & Safety Office, there are two main reasons why the mask mandate has been kept in place.
The first reason is to prevent interruption to the semester caused by a spike in COVID-19 cases.
“The decision was made by the administration to continue the mask requirement through the end of the semester, to keep our numbers down so that the students can finish the semester,” Wininger said.
The other reason is because UL Lafayette is a federal contractor, meaning that they receive money from the Federal Government and must comply with orders from them.
“We have a different set of criteria that we have to follow from that executive order,” Wininger said. “And part of that decision was based on the executive order as well.”
The executive order in question is number 14042, which states, “This order promotes economy and efficiency in Federal procurement by ensuring that the parties that contract with the Federal Government provide adequate COVID-19 safeguards to their workers performing on or in connection with a Federal Government.”
According to Wininger, students have mixed feelings on the mandate by the university.
“In my email this morning, I had several that were opposed, and I had several that were in favor of the decision to keep it, and I actually got one email of thanks from a student.”
One student, Janssen Dalton, an electrical engineering major believes that the continuation of the mask mandate is ultimately a good thing.
“I believe that the university’s decision to continue the mask mandate is the correct course of action to carry on with protecting its students upon the fight against covid-19,” Dalton wrote in a statement to The Vermilion.
He also believes that the mandate will allow for the university to go back to normal faster.
With the mandate in place we can actually open up the possibility of more venues and the lobby’s around the university, which is what brings students together and gives comfortable places for students to study and stay between classes,” Dalton wrote in his statement.
In regards to the future, Wininger said that the administration will meet again after graduation to discuss what the mandate will look like.
“It’s also from the Federal Government risk mandate that we have to abide by the executive requirement of UL in addition to what our numbers are locally here on campus,” he said.