Though Gov. Kay Ivey applauded universities for dropping COVID-19 mask mandates in 2022, her alma mater still permits professors to mandate masks in the classroom three years after the COVID-19 pandemic began. 

On Wednesday, a post appeared in the Auburn Class of 2027 Parents Facebook group from an anonymous user claiming to be the parent of a student in a psychology class whose professor requires all of the students to wear masks. The post has since been deleted.

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Though Auburn does not have a campus-wide requirement to wear masks, faculty members can require students to wear them by stating it in their syllabus according to campus policy. Otherwise, masks are optional.

But most other public universities in the state don’t permit professors to require masks in classrooms. Most only require masks in clinical settings. Students are always permitted to wear masks if they choose to do so personally.

At the University of Alabama (UA), for instance, “Masks are only required when an individual is in a medical care facility or clinical setting.” The only place employees can require masks to be worn is their own offices. 

“University faculty, staff, and students cannot impose more restrictive requirements in other settings,” the UA policy reads. “Anyone, including those who are fully vaccinated, should feel comfortable choosing to wear a mask, even when not required.”

The University of Alabama Birmingham (UAB) and the University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAH) have similar policies. UAB only requires those with “active respiratory symptoms” to wear masks unless they are in a clinical building. UAH requires students to wear masks only if they are in clinical areas in Wilson Hall, are within ten days of a positive COVID test or have been exposed to someone with COVID within the last 10 days. 

As of March 8, 2022, at the University of South Alabama (USA), “Masks are now optional on the University’s academic campuses.” USA provides at-home test kids and KN95 maks for students who want them while supplies last.

At Troy University, masks are optional in “all settings.”

According to a spokesperson for the University of North Alabama (UNA), “The University of North Alabama does not currently maintain a masking policy. Those who choose to wear a face covering may do so.”

Per the University of West Alabama’s (UWA) website, “Regardless of vaccination status, if you are exposed to COVID-19, then you must wear a mask around others for ten days from the date of exposure and get tested on day 5.” 

Nevertheless, UWA does not appear to have a policy forcing or allowing professors to force masks on students that have not been exposed and do not have symptoms.

According to the Jacksonville State University (JSU) website, the university returned to traditional operations in 2022. The website only suggests students wear masks when they are exposed or test positive for COVID-19 for 10 days. 

Alabama State University (ASU), Auburn University Montgomery (AUM) and University of Montevallo masking policies are unclear. Masking is not mentioned in AUM’s 2023-2024 Student Handbook, nor is it mentioned in ASU’s online Student Handbook or The Fledgling, which serves as the student handbook for Montevallo. 

1819 News reached out to Auburn to ask for clarification about the policy but did not receive a response.

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