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James and Candice Wiser hang out with Willie the Wildcat, the mascot at Abilene Christian University in West Texas.
Photo provided by James Wiser

Lipscomb, ACU resume indoor mask policies amid COVID-19 surge 

At least two universities associated with Churches of Christ have instituted temporary indoor mask policies in response to the latest surge in COVID-19 cases nationwide.

Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tenn., began in-person classes as scheduled this week but is requiring masks indoors through Jan. 21,  according to an email from Kim Chaudoin, vice president for public relations and communications.

Abilene Christian University in Texas reinstated its face covering requirement Jan. 6. The university will continue to require face coverings through Jan. 21 in classrooms, labs, studios and other instructional spaces as well as indoor chapel gatherings.

In an email, ACU President Phil Schubert told students and employees that in all other common interior spaces, masks are strongly recommended but not required. Vaccinations are not required but strongly encouraged and are available on campus.

Related: Will Christian universities be forced to require COVID-19 vaccinations for employees?

No changes are planned at Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tenn., where Dave Clouse, vice president for community engagement, said, “We are planning to continue as normal.”

Richard Johnson, president of Crowley’s Ridge College in Paragould, Ark., said the school will reduce its quarantine period to five days — based on new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — while encouraging hand washing, social distancing, taking vitamins and staying hydrated.

“CRC will also make sure we have boxes of face masks positioned in key areas throughout campus and are available to anyone that feels the need to wear them,” Johnson said in an email. CRC faculty are prepared to offer  classes via Zoom videoconferencing for quarantined students.

In Tennessee, some universities, including Lipscomb neighbors Belmont and Vanderbilt, are beginning the semester with online classes. The state is averaging more than 10,000 new infections daily for the first time in the pandemic — not including at-home tests, which are not reflected in official figures.

Other Texas universities have responded to the omicron variant surge that has pushed hospitals and packed ICU’s with various restrictions, according to KERA News. Hendrick Medical Center in Abilene raised its community safety level gauge to emergency, its highest level, for the first time in several months.

Most universities have current COVID-19 policy status information on their websites. Several institutions associated with Churches of Christ did not respond to requests for comment by the time this article was published.

Filed under: Abilene Christian University COVID-19 Crowley's Ridge College Freed-Hardeman University Lipscomb University masks National News omicron pandemic Partners Top Stories

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