When the fall semester begins Monday, Aug. 24, masks will be required for all students, faculty and staff of East Central College, in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
The mask requirement follows guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for institutions of higher education.
Masks are one of the critical strategies for combating the spread of COVID-19. As the fall semester opens with a return of students to campus, this step is important in order to protect the health and safety of all those on the Union campus and our centers in Rolla.
“Consistent and widespread use of masks helps ensure the safest environment for those on campus,” said Dr. Jon Bauer, president of ECC. “While county and city requirements vary throughout the college’s district and service region, it is the responsibility of ECC to adopt and enforce measures most appropriate for the health and safety of those in its facilities.”
With the number of students and employees on campus when the semester is under way, the use of masks will provide the best level of protection from contracting the coronavirus while in proximity to others, Bauer said.
While students may bring their own masks to campus, ECC will be providing free reusable masks. These masks, with the ECC logo, will be distributed to students in Union and Rolla at the beginning of the semester. A supply of disposable masks will be readily available if someone forgets to bring a mask to campus.
For those on campus this summer, current requirements will continue. Masks now are required inside ECC buildings in common areas, classrooms and labs in use during the summer semester, and in situations involving more than two individuals. Employees may continue to work without masks in their offices, or when meeting individually if social distancing of at least six feet can be maintained. These requirements will continue in the fall.
Faculty may elect to use face shields in lieu of masks, to facilitate effective teaching. Some may elect to use both a mask and face shield, and others may switch from one to another depending on the nature of the proximity with students in a classroom or lab setting.
ECC will provide face shields and masks to faculty and staff.
Students who do not wish to wear a mask have the option of modifying their schedule to classes that are offered remotely. The fall semester includes a mix of in-person and remote classes. The decision regarding masks is made now in order to allow students and employees to plan accordingly for the fall semester.
The mask requirement for students will be treated as an expectation of the code of conduct. For employees, the use of masks is an employment condition during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to wearing masks, faculty and students will be responsible for wiping down desks and/or work stations with sanitizing wipes before and after class. Combined with the regular cleaning by ECC’s custodial staff, this will also help ensure the safest environment for those on campus. Ample supplies will be available in each classroom or lab.
“ECC will continue to monitor local data regarding COVID-19 transmission, guidelines from the CDC, and other authoritative sources of information in order to make decisions based on science and data,” Bauer said. “These decisions will be made in the best interests of our students, employees, and communities.”