The chancellors of the state's second largest college and university system plan to adopt mask requirements on their campuses.
The decision followed approval from the Arkansas State University System Board of Trustees on Thursday giving chancellors the authority to require face coverings to help limit the spread of covid-19. During the meeting, ASU System President Chuck Welch told trustees that all the chancellors, pending board approval, would immediately institute mandatory face covering policies for indoors.
Specific guidelines will be communicated to employees and students by each chancellor, he said.
“Student and employee safety remains our top priority as we enter the fall semester," Welch said. "We know that indoor face coverings and vaccinations are critical to fighting this pandemic.”
Moves toward mask policies at colleges and universities have been announced all week. They follow a circuit court ruling on Friday that temporarily blocked the state from carrying out a law that prohibited mask mandates in most public places. Since the court ruling, universities, community colleges some school districts and are requiring people to wear masks indoors. Among school districts, the rules vary, with some mask requirements affecting certain grade levels.
Higher Education institutions with mask mandates include the University of Arkansas System, Arkansas Tech University and Southern Arkansas University.
The ASU System, which has about 38,000 students, is made up of two universities — Arkansas State University in Jonesboro and Henderson State University in Arkadelphia — and five community colleges: Arkansas State University-Beebe, Arkansas State University-Mountain Home, Arkansas State University-Newport, Arkansas State University Mid-South and Arkansas State University Three Rivers in Malvern. The campuses also have satellite sites.
ASU-Beebe, for example, has additional campuses in Heber Springs and Searcy, plus an instructional site at Little Rock Air Force Base in Jacksonville.
ASU-Newport has campuses in Jonesboro and Marked Tree.