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UT Austin Says Masks Are Now Optional On Campus

A student walks in front of the University of Texas tower.
Gabriel C. Pérez
Masks have been required in UT Austin buildings during the pandemic, but the rule was removed Wednesday.

Masks are now optional on the University of Texas at Austin campus, UT President Jay Hartzell announced Wednesday.

Masks are not required inside campus buildings or outdoors, but UT is recommending people who are not fully vaccinated or have weakened immune systems to keep wearing masks and social distancing.

“As we have done since the beginning of the pandemic, the university will continue to monitor conditions and act accordingly in line with the guidance of the CDC and state officials as those continue to evolve,” Hartzell said in a letter to the UT community.

Hartzell said the guidance is consistent with Gov. Greg Abbott’s recent order barring government entities from requiring face coverings and recent changes to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's masking guidance.

Masks will be optional at upcoming commencement ceremonies and athletics competitions. The university is hosting a campus-wide commencement ceremony on Saturday at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.

“We expect that some of those in attendance will wear masks and others will not — and for a variety of reasons,” Hartzell said. “Ultimately, we will continue to respect one another.”

Hartzell said vaccinations have helped stem COVID-19 infections on campus. UT has been administering COVID-19 vaccines since December, and has given out more than 100,000 so far. He said the campus’ proactive community testing program, which allows asymptomatic members of the UT community to get tested, has not had a positive case since May 7.

UT is still working on plans for what the fall semester will look like. Hartzell said the university will share more plans about the return to campus and events and meeting guidance after commencement.

“We’ve been successfully increasing density in a number of areas across campus over the past couple of months, and we’re confident in our plans to continue to do so safely,” he said.

Marisa Charpentier is KUT's assistant digital editor. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @marisacharp.
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