AUSTIN, Texas — The University of Texas at Austin will require all students, faculty and staff to wear face masks on campus next fall to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Interim Dean Jay Hartzell announced Monday.
UT-Austin appears to be the first university in the state to implement a mandatory face mask policy for the fall semester. In an email to the UT community, Hartzell said students and faculty may remove their face coverings in a campus building if they are alone in a private office or in their residence hall room. Masks will be encouraged in outdoor areas of campus and enforcement measures will be announced later. The university is also planning to test asymptomatic individuals and routinely screen people for symptoms as they enter buildings on campus.
"This policy — which is currently in place for the summer — is consistent with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which makes clear that face coverings, in addition to social distancing measures, are among the most effective strategies in limiting the spread of COVID-19, particularly in high-density areas," Hartzell said in the email.
Hartzell said employee furloughs have now begun in some revenue-generating units and officials would release additional budget cuts shortly. The university had previously announced that furloughs and a hiring freeze were imminent, and state leaders have directed certain higher education institutions and agencies to reduce budgets by 5%.
This story originally appeared in the Texas Tribune.