Students returning to Mercer University’s campuses in the fall will be required to wear masks to help stem the spread of COVID-19.
Effective July 15, all students, faculty, staff, students, contractors and visitors must wear a face covering that covers the nose and mouth while inside campus facilities.
“Masks are one of the ways that we can decrease the transmission of COVID-19,” said Dr. Jeffrey Stephens, an infectious disease expert and chair of the School of Medicine’s Department of Internal Medicine.
All students, faculty and staff are receiving a reusable cloth mask and washing instructions in a Bears Care personal hygiene kit.
Mandatory face coverings are one of many precautions — which also include social distancing, enhanced cleaning and more — Mercer is implementing to protect the health and safety of the community.
COVID-19 is primarily spread through respiratory droplets and aerosols, tiny particles emitted when a person coughs, sneezes, talks or sings. Evidence shows that face coverings reduce the spray of these droplets and aerosols, Dr. Stephens said.
Wearing a mask is especially important because people can have COVID-19 but not show any symptoms and unknowingly spread the coronavirus to others, he said.
“It’s really for the protection of other people because you may be asymptomatic and can have the infection,” he said.
Dr. Stephens encouraged students to wear masks off campus. Many major retailers, such as Walmart, Publix and Kroger, are requiring face coverings as well.
There are some instances in which masks are not required on campus:
- When alone in an enclosed office or study room
- In campus outdoor settings where there is social distancing
- For students in their own residential room or suite
- While eating in campus dining facilities
- While exercising
Instructors or supervisors may waive the requirement if they determine wearing a face covering could be hazardous, such as in a laboratory or work site with open flames.
In addition, reasonable accommodations may be made for those unable to wear a mask due to documented health reasons. Students seeking an accommodation should contact the Office of Access and Accommodations at (478) 301-2778.
Those who refuse to wear a mask will be asked to wear one or leave the area. Repeated refusal may result in discipline through the code of conduct.