Baylor lifts mask policy after year and a half of enforcement

By Ana Ruiz Brictson | Staff Writer, Video by Pierson Luscy | Broadcast Reporter

On Monday, students, staff and faculty will no longer be required to wear masks inside of labs and classrooms.

Baylor’s COVID-19 website has officially changed its policies to allow anyone on campus to have the option to wear a mask.

“Baylor University will update its facemask policy to optional facemasks in academic classrooms and labs — other than when requested in private offices – effective Monday, Feb. 21,” Baylor’s COVID-19 website reads.

Additionally, Baylor will continue to offer COVID-19 vaccinations and booster appointments for those who would like to get them.

As of Thursday, the Baylor community has reached an 82.3% vaccination rate, and McLennan County’s cases have dropped significantly.

Law School lecturer David Henry said given the dramatic drop in cases, this is an appropriate response that will not be placing students, staff or faculty in danger.

“I think psychologically from a community standpoint, it’s very therapeutic,” Henry said about the new mask policy.

Additionally, Henry said it is a relief to see that as a community, Baylor begins to move on from this.

Houston junior Brianna Lockwood said this news is a little nerve-wracking, but at the same time, it is exciting because masks did not allow her to breathe easily while she walked through campus.

“I think they’ve played a part in keeping us all safe,” Lockwood said.

Lockwood also said she believes people may be getting sick from illnesses other than COVID-19 because people’s immune systems are not used to not having a mask to protect them.

Earlier today, staff and faculty received an email from Provost Nancy Brickhouse, Ph.D., announcing that the mask policy will no longer be a requirement within labs and classrooms.

After consulting with the President’s Council, the university’s academic leadership, the Health Management Team and Faculty Senate leadership, the final decision came to remove the policy throughout all areas on the Baylor campus.

Part of the decision was made due to the high vaccination rate that stands at a total of 82% of the Baylor community. The other part came from the decline in COVID-19 cases in McLennan County.

Faculty and staff who may be concerned about the mask mandate being removed may still decide to require others to wear a mask in their personal offices.