University of Tennessee lifts mask, vaccine mandate following federal judge’s injunction

The University of Tennessee will no longer require students and staff to wear masks or get COVID-19 vaccines.
Student study as part of a setup photoshoot portraying what student life will look like while...
Student study as part of a setup photoshoot portraying what student life will look like while wearing a mask and social distancing inside Strong Hall on July 10, 2020. Photo by Steven Bridges/University of Tennessee(Steven Bridges | Steven Bridges/University of Tennessee)
Published: Dec. 1, 2021 at 12:40 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - University of Tennessee officials have lifted the university’s masking and vaccine mandates for students and staff following a Kentucky federal judge’s challenge to President Biden’s mandate order.

Under the order, the university was required to mandate masks for students and staff and COVID-19 vaccines for staff. Biden’s order was later challenged by a law signed by Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, which bans many COVID-19-related mandates.

Since a federal judge has applied an injunction on Biden’s order, the university must now follow Tennessee law, a letter from UT Chancellor Donde Plowman said. As a result, no students or staff are now required to be vaccinated or wear masks while inside.

While Biden’s order has faced backlash from Tennessee lawmakers and leaders, several health officials and business experts have supported the move. Health experts across the country have also almost universally supported COVID-19 vaccines, which have proven to be safe and effective at stopping serious cases of COVID-19, including those from new strains of the virus.

Plowman ended the letter by reminding students and staff to make person choices regarding masking reminding recipients of the importance of vaccination.

The move to no longer mandate vaccines and masks at UT is just the latest in a series as state and federals officials go back and forth on legislation around mandates.

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