Most State Colleges and Universities Requiring Face-Coverings for Fall Semester


Students at West Virginia’s two largest universities will be required to wear face masks when they return to campus for fall semester.

This tracks with Gov. Jim Justice’s Monday executive order that masks be worn inside all publicly and privately owned buildings in the state, which takes effect at midnight Tuesday.

At Marshall University in Huntington, students and employees will receive a Return-to-Campus kit containing face coverings and hand sanitizer. The face coverings will be required in all university buildings but an exception will be made for personal workspaces.

The plan is a part of Marshall’s decision, like many other schools nationwide, to offer a hybrid model of face-to-face classes and online learning. Every decision made during this process was executed with our Marshall family in mind,” said Tracy B. Smith, Marshall’s director of environmental health and safety, in a news release posted on the school’s website. “We have put in place a number of new policies and procedures all geared toward creating the best possible, safest environment for the university.”

At West Virginia University in Morgantown, all students must wear face coverings this fall as well. The school says it will provide students with one cloth mask and a few disposables, but it encourages students to bring their own extras. It’s also asking students to buy a thermometer as a means to monitor their own temperature.

“It’s really important. We want everyone at WVU to be safe and we want you to be healthy,” said DrKathryn S. Moffett, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at WVU Medicine in a video posted on Twitter Monday.

“I look at wearing masks in a couple of different ways,” she said. “It’s respect that I have for you that if I could be one of the asymptomatic coronavirus shedders. And it’s respect that I am not letting you have my germs. It’s also respect that you have for me, by you wearing a mask that you are not sharing your germs with me.”

Other state schools are following similar protocols for returning students. Fairmont State University Director of Communications Jessie Sharps told West Virginia Public Broadcasting that the university will require face coverings to be worn on campus at the start of the new semester and will be distributing one reusable mask to all faculty, staff, and students.

West Liberty University announced in a Facebook post on Monday that the school will also be requiring face coverings “at all indoor places”. 

Concord University’s return-to-campus plan includes a mask requirement in all university buildings as well, saying that “maintaining social distancing in a classroom does not change the requirement for wearing face coverings”.  

Around the nation, higher education administrators have seen pushback on reopening plans and enforcement of wearing masks. At Georgia Tech, faculty are upset about re-opening plans after state officials announced that state schools will not require masks, NPR reported. 

But in Texas, which has seen a resurgence of infections, particularly among younger people, some of the state’s largest schools including Texas A&M, the University of Texas at Austin and Texas State University, have made masks for students a requirement.