Dear UMass Dartmouth Faculty & Staff,
As pandemic conditions in our region and across the state have improved significantly in recent weeks, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) has updated its mask guidance. Letting DPH guidance inform our campus response to the pandemic has been our consistent practice, and has helped keep our campus community safe. In accordance with that new guidance and following a recommendation from our Pandemic Emergency Response Team (PERT), UMass Dartmouth is relaxing our indoor mask requirement as follows, effective February 28:
- Wearing face coverings indoors will be optional for individuals who are fully vaccinated;
- Face coverings must be worn in Student Health Services, the Counseling Center and on campus shuttles and other forms of university transportation;
- Individuals who are not fully vaccinated must continue to wear face coverings indoors;
- Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 must wear face coverings indoors for five days after their 5-day isolation period, regardless of vaccination status.
It’s heartening to see the improving COVID-19 metrics across our region in just the last few weeks. As you have likely heard, area K-12 schools are also relaxing their indoor mask requirements as of February 28, as are some other campuses in the UMass system. Since January 28, the positivity rate in Bristol County has fallen from 8.9% to 3.8%. Here on campus, the results of our wastewater surveillance testing have shown a dramatic decrease in the presence of COVID-19 virus. Treatments for COVID-19, along with booster shots, high-quality face coverings and COVID testing services are now widely available.
With 97% of staff and faculty and 95% of students fully vaccinated, a low campus positivity rate, minimal on-campus transmission, enhanced air filtration and airflow in academic buildings, and additional cleaning of many high-touch surfaces, the university provides a safe and healthy environment in which to live, learn and work. While masks will now be optional for most of us, we are all welcome to continue wearing them anywhere on campus—indoors and outside.
We understand that some members of the campus community, such as individuals who are immunocompromised, may be more vulnerable to COVID-19 and may require accommodations. Faculty and staff who would like to request a medical accommodation should contact Human Resources at email@example.com.
Again, we continue to welcome the usage of masks on campus, and we are making available KN95 masks and triple-ply surgical masks that departments and offices across campus can request and distribute. The university is also providing students with rapid test kits prior to Spring Break, and will continue to make rapid tests available to faculty and staff on request.
We are committed to maintaining a safe living, learning and working environment at UMass Dartmouth. As we have seen throughout the pandemic, conditions can change rapidly, and we will continue to monitor conditions, be guided by advice from the DPH, and evaluate our safety protocols in the weeks and months ahead.
As always, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with questions and for additional details on our campus’s safety procedures, please visit our COVID-19 website and our Faculty & Staff Frequently Asked Questions for more information.
Mark A. Fuller, PhD
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth