Drexel Public Health Procedures: Updates and Reminders
The following message, with reminders and updates about Drexel's public health procedures, was sent to the Drexel Community.
- The City of Philadelphia rescinded its indoor mask mandate as of April 22.
- Drexel has returned to its two-tier indoor masking requirements, with masks optional in many areas.
- Masks are now optional on Drexel shuttles.
- Drexel still encourages indoor masking during this time of Omicron BA.2 transmission.
- Students in isolation with COVID-19 infection will have the option to test out of isolation earlier, beginning Monday, May 2.
- Continue to follow public health guidelines and stay home when sick.
Dear Drexel Students and Colleagues,
As noted in last week's communication, the City of Philadelphia rescinded its indoor mask mandate as of April 22. Coincident with the city's decision, Drexel has returned to its two-tier system for indoor masking, with one main difference: since SEPTA and Amtrak dropped long-standing mask requirements, masking is now also optional on Drexel shuttles. COVID-19 infections caused by Omicron subvariant BA.2 are mostly mild to moderate in nature among vaccinated, boosted persons. We note that while the vast majority of infections do not result in hospitalization, indoor masking is still encouraged as an added layer of protection, wherever there are many people in close proximity. Thank you for adapting to these rapid changes!
As a reminder, masks are now optional in all indoor areas EXCEPT:
- All classrooms, laboratories and studios that are actively being used for lectures or instructional purposes.
- Disability Resources testing spaces.
- Ticketed events in Mandell and the Urban Annex Black Box Theaters, and dance studios (attendees must wear masks).
- All health care facilities—including, but not limited to: Student Health Services, Occupational Health Services and the Counseling Center.
- All health care rotations in the College of Nursing and Health Professions and College of Medicine, and co-op health care positions.
Eating and drinking are allowed in "Masks Optional" spaces, but not in "Masks Required" spaces.
Why Mask in Class?
This is an understandable and common question. People who are presymptomatic with COVID-19 are often infectious but don't know it. Classrooms are often places where people across a spectrum of risk sit in close proximity for a prolonged time. It's a place people must be. While the COVID dashboard shows infections decreasing, we are not receiving full data on those who rapid test at home. BA.2 is highly contagious and there is still enough transmission occurring to maintain masking in the classroom.
We still strongly recommend that unvaccinated students, visitors and employees wear a maskat all times in indoor public spaces, for your own protection. In addition, we rely on everyone to both assess individual risk and take appropriate precautions, and to monitor your health. Even if you've had a negative COVID test, please mask up if you feel sick. And make sure to get tested if you have symptoms or are concerned about an exposure. Our choices continue to be about individualand community health and wellbeing. When in doubt, mask.
Updated Isolation Guidelines
Effective Monday, May 2nd, Drexel is revising its procedures for students who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are in isolation. Our goal is to prevent additional infections while creating as little disruption as possible to a student's life and learning. Our new guidelines provide an avenue for certain students who either do not develop respiratory symptoms, or whose illness resolves quickly, AND who have a rapid negative test for COVID-19 after a week. Under the new guidelines, certain students who have a negative rapid antigen test may be able to return to normal housing and classes on Day 8 as opposed to Day 10 (see below). However, they must continue to wear a mask in all public spaces for the next 2 days. Here is what the process looks like:
- Day 0: Student tests positive for COVID and enters isolation.
- Days 0-4: Student isolates and checks in daily to report symptoms via email or calls that come from the COVID surveillance team.
- Day 5: Student with NO respiratory symptoms will be cleared to return to normal housing and classes on Day 6.
- Students who continue to have symptoms must continue to isolate and contact tracing team will send an email on Day 7 with instructions for Day 7 rapid testing.
- Day 7: Students who still have symptoms report to a Drexel testing site at a designated time and receive a rapid COVID test.
- If test is negative, they can be released from isolation housing and return to classes on Day 8 but must continue to wear a mask in public spaces for 2 more days.
- If the test result is positive, they will be required to complete a full 10-day isolation and will be cleared to return to normal housing and classes on Day 11.
At this time, most vaccinated, young adults do not get seriously ill from COVID—and some may even have few symptoms. Instituting this change in our procedures will improve efficiency and minimize unnecessary isolation days without providing additional risk to the community.
Keeping Track of Change
Change is still a constant of pandemic life, but we hope that the changes to pandemic precautions over the past few weeks have not been too disruptive. Drexel strives to respond to changes in our pandemic situation proactively, while centering your learning, work and campus life. Please refer to ourpublic health guidelinespage for the latest updates, and thank you, as always, for the part you continue to play in your health and our community wellbeing.
Marla J. Gold, MD
Chief Wellness Officer
Senior Vice Provost for Community Health
Janet Cruz, MD
Director, Drexel Student Health