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Oklahoma's two largest universities to require masks in class

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Chelsea Stanfield / KOSU
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Students wear masks inside Edmon Low Library at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Okla. in August 2020.

Oklahoma’s colleges and universities are bracing for students to come back this semester.

And as the omicron variant surges, The University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University expect students returning for classes will bring the coronavirus with them.

That’s why the two universities have announced mandatory masking in classes on their Stillwater and Norman campuses for the first two weeks students are back.

“Since the onset of the pandemic, we have sought to implement protocols that will protect our community, while also allowing for our in-person experience to continue,” Dale Bratzler, OU’s chief COVID officer wrote in an email to the campus community. “Certainly, there is no perfect balancing of those priorities; it is thanks to the vigilance of our community that we have been able to maintain our life-changing in-person experience in the face of the pandemic.”

Classes will begin at OU on Jan. 17, and the mask mandate will remain in effect until the end of the month.

Classes at OSU began Monday.

For classes to be in-person, instructors must have a mask mandate for the first two weeks there. If the instructor did not wish to have a masking requirement, the class could be moved online.

OSU wrote in its letter to the campus community that the masking requirement would remain in place for two weeks in classrooms. After that, it was up to individual instructors on if masks would be required.

“Thank you for your understanding and patience as we continue to navigate the pandemic,” Johnny Stephens, Senior Vice President for Health Affairs, wrote in a letter to the OSU community. “Please know we are making the best decisions we can while weighing the information we have available.”

OU and OSU had implemented a vaccine requirement for staff. But that mandate was suspended after a federal judge suspended COVID-19 vaccine requirements for federal contractors.

Robby Korth joined KOSU as its news director in November 2022.
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