A Change to Our Mask Policy

February 21, 2022

Dear Holy Cross Community,

Starting Monday, Feb. 28, masking will be optional on campus. Masks will still be required in a few places and situations on campus, as detailed below.

This decision is based on a number of factors and is made in accordance with the advice of our medical advisor. More than 90% of our community is fully vaccinated and boosted. Campus case numbers have remained low since students returned. Data from the city of Worcester, including cases, hospitalizations and ICU use, show steady declines. The amount of COVID detected in Massachusetts wastewater has been decreasing.

Many on our campus may choose to continue to mask. We know individual protective measures, such as one-way masking, greatly reduce risk, particularly among a population with extremely high vaccination rates like ours. We ask that you respect others’ needs and choices, and are prepared to wear a mask if requested in someone else’s space. For example, a colleague may ask you to wear a mask if you attend a meeting in their office, or a roommate may be more comfortable if guests wear a mask in their room. Please keep a mask handy in case a friend or colleague asks you to wear one.

Individual faculty members will be able to set their own masking policies for their classrooms, labs and studio spaces. Students are expected to abide by the policies set by their faculty members.

There are situations and places on campus where masks will still be required:

•    Medical facilities (including Health Services, Sports Medicine, the COVID Testing Center in Hogan)
•    Holy Cross transportation, including all Holy Cross shuttles and vans
•    Anyone who tests positive, for at least 10 days after the test
•    Anyone who is a close contact for 5 days after exposure
•    Anyone who is unvaccinated must continue to mask indoors

We also strongly encourage anyone who is immunocompromised or older than 75 to continue to wear a mask.

Reducing restrictions allows us to address some of the toll this pandemic has taken on the mental health of our students, faculty and staff. An increase in mental health issues has been described by some as a second pandemic. We are pleased that our high vaccination rates and the low number of cases has allowed us to make this change. Supporting the mental health of all our community members is paramount, and we remind students, faculty and staff that there are resources available to support you through the Counseling Center or the Employee Assistance Program.

As we work to decide how to move forward in our own response to the pandemic we are balancing these issues of physical and mental health. As always, we are using science and data to guide our decisions.

Throughout the pandemic, as factors have changed, we have shifted our approach to fit the situation. We remain willing to reinstate the mask policy across campus if the situation warrants. We have all learned to be flexible, and we will need to remain so.

The COVID Core Team