The Wisconsin Mask’s tenure defies the order of the state, but will it stay? |
The chancellor says that it is “my authority” to impose a mandate.
Earlier this week, the University of South Carolina announced a mask mandate to protect students, staff, and faculty from COVID-19 and the burgeoning Delta variant. It didn’t last long. The conservative-led state attorney general stepped in and said it violated state law, so the university backed down.
A similar situation occurred in Florida a few months ago when the University of Nova Southeastern implemented a vaccine requirement. It ended when Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order prohibiting state-funded institutions from waiting for proof of vaccination. NSUflorida was forced to encourage them instead.
These landmark cases, at least in the higher education landscape, have shown the control exercised by states over determining what public institutions can demand of their communities. For this reason, some Red State institutions have been reluctant to try to impose mandates.
But the University of Wisconsin-Madison is not one of them. On Tuesday, he announced a mask warrant for anyone coming to campus, defying the legislation of a Republican-led state committee that specifically asked institutions to seek approval before trying to impose a such requirement.
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The UW-Madison leader has been defiant in defending her position, relying on a growing number of positive cases (state of Wisconsin, the 7-day average of positive cases as of July 1 was 79, and now it’s 962) and the threat of the Delta variant is likely to take hold on campuses if masks are not mandatory. Concerns are also emerging about two other variants that have infiltrated the United States in recent months – Delta Plus and Lambda – and the potential of all three to affect younger populations.
“As of August 5, 2021 and until further notice, I prohibit anyone, regardless of their COVID-19 vaccination status, from accessing the grounds and buildings of UW-Madison who do not any time of face covering, ”said Chancellor Rebecca Blank. written to the community.
Blank has defended his position and defined his role during a crisis, saying that “this ordinance is in accordance with my authority …
Hours before and after a 6-4 approval that would apparently prevent UW from issuing a warrant, Republican State Senator Steve Nass posted this statement on his Nass Report blog:
“The legislature, through the Joint Administrative Rules Review Committee, told the UW system that it can no longer ignore state law with respect to Covid-19 mandates impacting students and visitors to campus. The government has issued Covid-19 warrants and lockdowns have failed miserably in the fight against this virus. The way forward to tackle Covid-19 is not through excessive government mandates, but through restoring Americans capable of making voluntary and informed decisions based on their individual health situation. “
What will the university do next? How will the state react? Unless he tries to impose fines, does he have the power to do more? These questions will likely be tested or answered in the coming days. UW System Chancellor Tommy Thompson supported the response of campus leaders during the pandemic.
“Based on my experience as the former Secretary of Health and Human Services in the United States, I know that the biggest threat to in-person classes this fall would be actions that rob the UW system of the tools it needs. it has been used successfully so far to fight epidemics and reduce the spread of COVID-19, ”said Thompson, a Republican who served under George W. Bush, in a statement. “Just as we did last year, the UW system will continue to use its authority to take agile and reasonable steps that will allow us to keep our campuses open for the education students need, which parents expect and Wisconsin deserves it. “
And will other battles be fought in other conservative states, especially in those that have not welcomed vaccination mandates? Several institutions in Alaska, Alabama, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, and Tennessee, for example, all have mask mandates in place. Will they be forced to re-evaluate their positions if invited to do so, as the University of South Carolina has done?