Leaders of four universities and colleges in Springfield have asked city leaders to extend a mask mandate that is scheduled to end in mid-October to help them keep students and faculty safe during the coronavirus pandemic.
Presidents and chancellors of Drury, Evangel and Missouri State universities and Ozarks Technical Community College said in the letter the requirement to wear masks in public and group settings has helped reduce cases of COVID-19 on their four campuses.
The letter was sent Friday to Springfield Mayor Ken McClure and the Springfield City Council. The city’s mask requirement is scheduled to end at midnight on Oct. 14.
The letter said face masks are “essential” to protecting the 40,000 students and faculty on the four campuses. It said all four schools have seen a reduction in COVID-19 cases since students began following the masking, physical distancing and proper hygiene guidance.
“Many of our students have come to Springfield from other parts of the nation,” the letter said. “As they have settled into our community and followed the current guidelines, the number of cases has continued to decline.”
The schools will keep requiring masks even if the city allows its mask mandate to expire. But the college leaders said students and faculty don’t “live in a bubble” and their safety and that of Springfield residents will suffer if the city mandate ends.
McClure did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But Clay Goddard, director of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, said at a news conference Monday the letter sends a powerful message, KYTV reported.
“I’m grateful for the leadership and willingness to step out there,” Goddard said.
Missouri on Monday reported 123,276 confirmed cases, which was a drop from the 123,406 cases reported Sunday. The numbers came on the same day the state unveiled a new dashboard with more detailed data on coronavirus cases.
Lisa Cox, a spokeswoman for the health department, said transitioning to the new system during the weekend allowed teams to identify and correct some issues with case totals, “including some instances of cases being counted more than once or cases being marked as confirmed without the correct verification documentation present.”
Missouri reported 2,074 deaths on Monday, an increase of nine from Sunday.