A number of leading universities have announced in recent days that they will reinstate masking requirements along with other mitigations following a recent surge in the number of Covid-19 cases on campus, particularly among the students. Georgetown, Johns Hopkins and Rice were among the universities that made such announcements.
The new outbreaks, reported at several institutions across the country, appear to be due to a combination of factors: the easing of masking requirements that took place at many colleges in February and March, the resumption of more social activities and large gatherings on campus, and the exceptionally high transmissibility of the BA.2 subvariant of the highly infectious Omicron strain. In a relatively short period of time, BA.2 caused a new wave of cases in Europe, and it became the dominant version of the coronavirus. in the USA.
Georgetown University announced it was temporarily reinstating a mask requirement on April 7. As of that date, everyone will be required to wear a mask indoors on the main and medical center campuses, “except when in their personal residence or private office or while actively eating or drinking. This requirement will be in effect until further notice. »
Additionally, Georgetown requires all undergraduates to take a PCR test after Easter vacation the week of April 18, unless they tested positive in the previous 90 days. Ranit Mishori, Georgetown’s chief public health officer, said measures are in response to a “significant” increase in COVID-19 cases, primarily among undergraduate students. The masking requirement will remain in place for the foreseeable future.
Johns Hopkins University
April 6, Johns Hopkins University sent a message to his undergraduate students saying it was:
- temporarily reinstate masking requirements for students, staff, faculty, contractors, visitors and guests in common areas of halls of residence, in halls of residence (except when actively eating or drinking) and in the classrooms ;
- take tests twice a week for all undergraduate students for at least the current week and the following two weeks (until April 22). The University said it would then reassess and determine whether the increased testing is still necessary.
Citing “a significant increase in the number of positive cases reported in our community” in recent days, Rice University also brought back a masking requirement this week. Rice said there were “about 145” new cases, more than 90% of which were undergraduate students, about half of which occurred at two residential colleges. He added that while most of those who tested positive had symptoms, he was unaware of “any serious illnesses among members of the Rice community.”
As a result, Rice said that “effective immediately, everyone in a classroom is required to wear masks regardless of their vaccination status, except for instructors during class.” He also encouraged – but did not require – “everyone to wear masks at all times on campus and to use good judgment as to when it is appropriate to wear a mask.”
Other universities reporting recent and significant increases in their Covid-19 cases include Cornell University, University of Michigan. and the University of Georgia. The BA.2 subvariant accounted for the majority of new cases.
As colleges and universities turn the corner and head into the end of the spring semester, it remains to be seen how many will try to contain new virus outbreaks by maintaining their current mitigation policies or returning to masking and distancing. other requirements that many had completed a few weeks earlier. But developments over the past week show once again that the virus is a tenacious and implacable enemy and that campuses remain vulnerable to spikes in cases, even if their severity now appears to have diminished considerably.