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University of Iowa is only Big Ten school not requiring masks or vaccine

Published: Aug. 11, 2021 at 11:00 PM CDT
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - About 30,000 University of Iowa students will return to classes in less than two weeks on August 23, and some students are urging the school’s leaders to do more to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“I don’t feel like I am in too much danger, but I could see it progress into something that makes me feel unsafe,” Will Nickey, a sophomore at the University of Iowa, said.

The University of Iowa is the only Big Ten school, out of 14 member institutions, that doesn’t require masks or vaccines.

“I don’t want to have to go back to what it was like last year,” Nickey said.

Nickey isn’t the only student that didn’t like the online or hybrid-style experience at the school.

“Just not being able to go to the business school or library to study was different,” Grace McCaffrey, a junior, said.

Cases of COVID-19 in Iowa climbed 35% in the last week, following a multi-week trend of large jumps in case counts.

A statement from the Iowa Board of Regents pointed to guidelines they issued three months ago, before the delta variant. The guidelines said masks would no longer be required on campus because the vaccine was widely available to adults over 12.

“I think it was kind of wild,” McCaffery said. “The delta variant has a presence right now.”

More than 500 professors from across the state signed a letter to the Board of Regents asking it to either mandate masks and vaccines or offer incentives for those who do get the shot. The letter outlined tuition discounts and charging fees for those who aren’t vaccinated. Ideas both McCaffery and Nickey said they support in hopes of not going back to remote learning and losing more of the college experience.

“A lot of college students don’t like wearing masks now that it has been the new norm over the last few months, but I think if we need to do it, it was obvious,” McCaffery said.

The guidance from the Board of Regence said universities were not able to make decisions on their own.

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