As the school year comes to a close, Rutherford County’s colleges and school districts are reviewing their mask policies, and many of the policies are being relaxed.
Middle Tennessee State University President Sidney A. McPhee lifted the university’s mask mandate as of May 24.
“Effective immediately, and in accordance with guidance from federal and state public health officials, I am removing campus mandates for wearing of masks, maintaining social distancing and observing modified COVID-19 room capacities,” McPhee wrote in an email.
Masks will still be required while using the university’s transportation system and for patients showing “flu-like, or coronavirus-like” symptoms within the Students Health Services facility.
The new policy was made with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines regarding individuals who have already been vaccinated.
“Given the ready supply of vaccines available to the campus, as well as throughout the state and nation, we believe members of our community can make informed and individual choices about their health and safety, including appropriate actions and measures they should take to protect themselves from COVID-19,” wrote McPhee.
The university still recommends mask usage and social distancing for non-fully vaccinated persons on campus.
Motlow State Community College has also decided to drop mask requirements for fully-vaccinated individuals on all of its campuses (Moore County, Smyrna, McMinnville, Fayetteville and Sparta) in accordance with the Tennessee Board of Regents’ policies.
The policy revision was officially made on May 21, according to the community college’s website.
Motlow State and the board of regents recommend individuals who have not yet been fully-vaccinated to do so as soon as possible.
Similarly, the Tennessee College of Applied Technology Murfreesboro recently updated its policy to reflect the guidelines provided by the board of regents and the CDC. All staff, students and guests on campus will be asked to wear a mask indoors unless they have been vaccinated.
As the school works to transition away from online and hybrid learning, social distancing of three to six feet is being encouraged when possible inside labs, classrooms, office and public areas, according to a news release from TCAT. Classrooms and labs will be required to keep Plexiglass partitions in place.
The school plans to continue limiting visits from the general public, but small group tours and planned campus events will take place, following CDC recommendations.
The TCAT Smyrna Campus will be following the same protocols as the Murfreesboro campus, according to TCAT Murfreesboro Student Success and Support Coach Willie Leathers and Workforce Coordinator Jennifer Fuchs.
At its April meeting, the Rutherford County Schools board voted to lift its mask policy effective on the last day of the 2020-2021 school year and to not require masks for the 2021-22 school year. Board members said they received lots of feedback from parents, students, faculty and members of the community.
Students and their families will be able to decide if continued mask use is the best option for them.
The Murfreesboro City Schools board decided at its May 25 meeting to keep its mask requirement in place on school buses and indoors when social distancing cannot be maintained for the duration of the district’s summer school session.
MCS employees who have been fully vaccinated will not be required to wear masks or social distance, in accordance with the CDC’s guidelines. However, they are encouraged to wear a mask when in the presence of students.
MCS plans to use the summer school session along with updates from the CDC to make COVID-19 safety decisions for the fall. These decisions will be made at a future board meeting.