SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Southern University has reversed course in implementing an indoor mask mandate on campus for returning students.

The university had announced Sunday that a mask mandate would be in effect starting Monday for all students and faculty but reversed course in a statement released late Monday morning.

“Upon further review of COVID-19 vaccination rates and other mitigation efforts, the Southern University System will not make masks mandatory on its campuses,” the statement said.

This includes Southern University and A&M College, Southern University at New Orleans, Southern University Shreveport, Southern University Law Center, and Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center.

Still, university officials say masks are strongly encouraged in all indoor spaces to provide a safe atmosphere for all students, employees and visitors.

COVID-19 protocols remain in place for the Fall 2022 semester on all campuses. Officials say students and staff must provide proof of vaccination, submit an exemption for medical or religious reasons, or submit a letter of dissent. The university requires any employee or student submitting exemptions and letters of dissent to take regular COVID tests.

School officials say staff and students need to submit their documents online. Students who do not provide the required forms may have classes dropped. They say employees without proper documentation may face disciplinary action.

Virtual employee information meetings will take place on Nov 18 and Nov 22.

Visitors are required to follow the campus mask policy and may be subject to a temperature check before entering an event. They are required to provide proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test within 72 hours of an event.

Vendors and contractors on campus are required to complete COVID-19 vaccination Requirement Declarations. That includes the number of employees vaccinated, employees with exemptions, employees complying with regular testing, the number of employees not in compliance, and what actions they took in response.