Bigger public universities in Texas will require face masks when they reopen in the fall. However, many are hesitant that enforcing such policies could be difficult for universities that home more than tens of thousands of students.
Texas A&M University, the University of Texas at Austin, and Texas State University have all announced that masks will be mandatory for next semester. Each campus will also require face masks for students and faculty in private offices or rooms and will also encourage students to wear masks outdoors. While public health experts are sure that wearing a mask is one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of the coronavirus, many Texans argue that enforcing masks by threatening fines or jail times is a violation of their rights.
Unfortunately, one of the most affected age groups is that of young adults between 20-29. In fact, Hays County, the home of Texas State University, reported that young people in their 20s accounted for 50.7% of all the cases from last week. The same is true of Austin, Texas which also has a decently sized university population within its city. 27% of all cases in the city are found in ages 20-29, which is, according to the Austin Public Health data, the largest of any demographic.
At A&M, officials report that they plan to largely rely on social pressure and public disapproval of students without masks. A&M campus police will not be called on to mediate mask disputes, however, those who repeatedly refuse to wear masks will be subject to a disciplinary process, up to and including dismissal.
At Texas State University, according to their COVID-19 campus website, failure to wear a mask will also be handled by existing employee, faculty and student discipline and judicial processes
UT- Austin officials are continuously denying repeated requests for interviews about how to enforce mandatory mask-wearing rules. However, Art Markman, who is head of the university’s fall planning committee, did report through The Daily Texan that campus police officers may become involved if someone refuses to wear a mask within a building on campus. Markman also revealed that final policy details will be released on June 30, 2020.