Ball State to continue to enforce face mask mandate

<p>Ball State President Geoffrey Mearns gets his first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine March 11, 2021, at IU Ball Memorial Hospital. In an April 1 email, Mearns encouraged members of the student body to receive vaccines now that they are eligible. <strong>Jaden Whiteman, DN File</strong></p>

Ball State President Geoffrey Mearns gets his first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine March 11, 2021, at IU Ball Memorial Hospital. In an April 1 email, Mearns encouraged members of the student body to receive vaccines now that they are eligible. Jaden Whiteman, DN File

In a campus-wide email sent around 9 a.m. April 1, Ball State President Geoffrey Mearns said the university will continue to enforce a mandatory face mask policy while inside campus buildings through the end of the spring 2021 semester.

This was in response to Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb's announcement that he was downgrading the face mask mandate to an advisory beginning April 6.

RELATED: Indiana to open COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to ages 16 and older March 31

Holcomb said in a March 23 press conference local governments and businesses can choose to enforce stricter COVID-19 policies than at the state level.

Mearns said he discussed potentially amending the university's COVID-19 protocols with the Taskforce on Recovery and the University’s Strategic Transition (TRUST), which they declined to do at this time.

"I think it is prudent for us to maintain our current protocols throughout the remainder of the spring semester, including during our Commencement exercises in early May," Mearns said in the email.

TRUST is working on plans to safely bring back all students and employees to campus by the fall 2021 semester, which Mearns said will be revealed at the May 7 Board of Trustees meeting.

Mearns also encouraged all students to get vaccinated for COVID-19 as soon as they can, as Hoosiers age 16 and older are now eligible under state guidelines.

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