CLEMSON, SC (WSPA) – Clemson University announced that they will temporarily require masks in all buildings for three weeks.
The university made the announcement following the South Carolina Supreme Court decision Tuesday which stated that public colleges and universities were allowed to have universal mask mandates.
Clemson said the masks will be required in all of its buildings throughout the state including classrooms, instructional facilities, labs, offices, and residential and dining halls except while eating or in private spaces.
“As we begin the semester, it’s a temporary regulation. Initial period is three weeks, but we will continue to revisit and examine the data and see what our next steps are,” said Joe Galbraith, University Relations, Communications, for Clemson University. “This is a temporary regulation as we begin the semester, and welcome back thousands of students to our campus. Obviously, we have a robust testing strategy. Every student has to be tested weekly. Every employee has to be tested bi-weekly, but layering on masks usage for this initial period, our public health experts feel is a necessary step as we welcome everybody back at the beginning of the semester.”
“In my opinion, I’m not a big fan of it. I’ve hardly worn a mask since the pandemic started and I’ve developed a natural immunity. I have the antibodies and I’ve never gotten sick in the past year and a half now. So I prefer not to wear one, but can’t really do anything about it,” said Ethan Sumner, student at Clemson University.
“Regardless of the vaccine, if you have the vaccine or not, I feel that we should all still wear our masks, and to help others, especially people who have disorders or who can’t control themselves getting the vaccine,” said NaKiya Myers, student at Clemson University. “After the three weeks, I NaKiya Myers, will still be wearing mine. Like I said, only to prevent anything. I do conversate with people in the hallways, walking down the hall, bumping into people, going into class. So yes, any contraction or anything that can block it or stop it, I’m going to do that.”
One Clemson professor said the news came as a relief to some of her colleagues.
“There was a lot of relief when the university reinstated their mask mandate last night, and their was a lot of relief about the supreme court ruling, as well,” said Kim Paul, Professor at Clemson University.
Prior to the ruling, Paul organized a protest. Now, Paul and others are hoping for another outcome.
“So we have three adjectives. The first adjective is, we want to urge the university to extend the three week, mask policy through the rest of the semester. Let’s get us through the semester, and then we can evaluate, depending on how the virus is doing at that point,” Paul said. “The second thing is to raise awareness about masks and encourage mask wearing, and we’re handing out masks today. And then the third is, we’re educators. This is an opportunity to engage in conversations about the virus, about masking, about other interventions.”
Some students still have mixed feelings about the temporary mandate.
“I finally get here and I finally start classes my freshmen year and then we get hit with this the night before, so it was a little upsetting, but just got to deal with it,” Sumner said.
“CDC and DHEC have recommended them, especially in classrooms. Our public health experts that do all of the modeling, and look at the prevalence along with data, they highly recommended it. So this temporary step, hopefully allows us to get into that intro period of the semester where we can re-evaluate and see where things stand,” Galbraith added.
The mask mandate goes into effect immediately.
“This three-week period coincides with the greatest risk predicted by our public health team’s modeling of the disease,” the university said in a statement.
The University of South Carolina also announced a mask mandate Tuesday.