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New Orleans colleges, universities split on fall semester mask mandates

The news comes a day after Mayor LaToya Cantrell issued an indoor mask advisory for the city — an initial rollback into restrictions seen during previous spikes.

NEW ORLEANS — Some colleges and universities in the New Orleans area are erring on the side of caution and are requiring face masks on campus. Other institutions in the area are allowing vaccinated people on campus without masks, citing CDC guidelines. 

Thursday, Xavier University officials said face masks would be required for people at its New Orleans campus both indoors and outside.

Loyola University New Orleans is also mandating face coverings indoors when people are near others who are not in their immediate household. The only exception is for people alone in private offices or dorm rooms.

People who refuse to comply with Loyola's mask mandate would face sanctions, the school's website said.

The news comes a day after Mayor LaToya Cantrell issued an indoor mask advisory for the city — an initial rollback into restrictions seen during previous COVID-19 spikes.

New Orleans has one of the highest vaccination rates in Louisiana, but the rest of the state is lagging behind, with fewer than 40% of eligible people statewide having received at least one dose. 

Loyola's Uptown New Orleans neighbor, Tulane University is in compliance with Louisiana Department of Health and CDC guidance, which no longer requires people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to wear a mask.

"Those who have not received the vaccine are required to continue wearing masks on all Tulane University campuses and property," Tulane's website said.

Tulane sent students a message Thursday concerning their face masks policy, saying in part, "we are implementing the city's advisory by strongly encouraging all individuals to wear masks while indoors..."

"The decision to stop wearing a mask is a personal choice for anyone who has been vaccinated," the message sent to Tulane students said. "Anyone not yet fully vaccinated is required to mask and distance in public settings and particularly indoors for their safety and the safety of others."

Like Tulane, the University of New Orleans is also not requiring face coverings for the fully vaccinated, their website said.

"At this point, vaccinated individuals are not required to wear a face-covering or practice social distancing on campus," UNO's website said. "Employees, students and guests who are not fully vaccinated must continue to wear a mask in shared indoor spaces."

Delgado Community College is requiring all students, employees, and visitors to continue to wear a mask while on campus, a communique from the institution said in June.

"(Delgado Community College) will continue to require a mask and social distancing for all those entering the campus," the communique said.

City health officials worry that unvaccinated people from outside the parish could bring in more cases of the highly contagious delta variant, which appears to be more easily transmittable to children. 

Currently, those under 12 are ineligible for any COVID-19 vaccines.

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