Drexel Moves to Two-Tiered System for Indoor Masking
The following message, about the University moving to a two-tiered system for indoor masking, was sent to the Drexel community.
- COVID-19 transmission within the Philadelphia region and the Drexel community remains low.
- Starting March 14, Drexel will move to a two-tiered system for indoor masking. Instructional spaces, ticketed cultural performances, shuttles and health care settings will continue to be "Masks Required" spaces. Most other campus spaces will be "Masks Optional."
- Drexel will provide KN95 and/or KF94 high filtration masks to students and employees who request one.
- Drexel will pause routine use of the Drexel Health Checker Visitor Pass, starting March 14. Visitors will no longer need to check in but must follow mask guidelines for the spaces they are visiting.
- See updated Drexel public health guidelines here.
Dear Drexel students and colleagues,
Over the past week, we have continued to review our own data as well as data from other institutions of higher education; met with personnel at peer institutions and consulted with officials at the Philadelphia Department of Health. We are a highly vaccinated and boosted community; viral transmission remains low, and emerging data is encouraging regarding the use of well-fitted, high filtration masks (for example KN95s and KF94s) by individuals who choose to wear them in settings where mask use is not universal. While the pandemic is not over, restrictions can now be further reduced. We want to update you regarding our plans including indoor masking, testing and visitor guidelines.
"Masks Required" and "Masks Optional"
Our focus remains the health and safety of our students, faculty and professional staff, and we continue to assess which safety protocols are most appropriate for our community. There are areas of campus where the evidence suggests that we can loosen some of our mask restrictions sooner than others. Starting Monday, March 14, 2022, Drexel's campus will have two types of spaces: Masks Required, and Masks Optional.
In places where masks are "optional," our analysis suggests that it is relatively safe for individuals or groups to make decisions about mask-wearing. Often, these spaces are larger, see a frequent flow of people, are places where lingering is optional, or are areas that allow a few individuals to coordinate based on their individual needs and comfort levels.
"Masks required" are areas like instructional spaces such as classrooms, where many people of varying risk status are required to spend prolonged time in close proximity, or health care settings where there may be a higher concentration of vulnerable or potentially sick people.
Masks will be required in the classroom setting through the end of the winter quarter, and we will continue to closely assess the situation. We will further assess the requirement to mask in instructional settings based on community transmission, ongoing data concerning "one-way" masking and risk in the classroom setting, and our ability to effectively contact trace. Any further changes for spring quarter will be announced the week of April 4, once students have returned and we have a good sense of our community's COVID status post-break. Note that maintaining health and safety with relaxed mask guidelines is still possible in highly vaccinated and boosted communities where testing is highly available, contact tracing is robust and everyone is paying attention to their health and others' needs. So far, Drexel has demonstrated itself to be just such a community. Please do your part to ensure this continues.
Everyone should always continue to carry a well-fitting mask and be ready to enter a mask required space as needed.
Areas where masks are still REQUIRED as of March 14:
- All classrooms, laboratories and studios that are being used for lectures or instructional purposes.
- Disability Resources testing spaces.
- The Drexel Shuttle (until masking becomes optional on SEPTA public transportation in our region).
- Ticketed events in Mandell and the Urban Annex Black Box Theaters, and the 418 Main Dance Studio (Attendees must mask).
- All health care facilities—including, but not limited to: Student Health Services, Occupational Health Services and the Counseling Center.
- All health care rotations (CNHP, COM, Co-op Health Care Positions).
Areas where masks are OPTIONAL (starting March 14):
- Non-clinical office spaces and meeting rooms
- Shared workspaces (unless in health care settings)
- Research spaces (unless when the space is being used for a class or if masking is required for research purposes)
- Common areas of buildings including restrooms, stairwells and elevators
- University residence halls and fraternity and sorority housing (unless you are isolating in place)
- The Drexel Fitness & Recreation Center and the Daskalakis Athletic Center
Stay Home When You Feel Sick
Regardless of mask requirements, you should always stay home if you are sick, and always be aware that you can choose to wear your mask. Common symptoms of COVID infection among vaccinated and boosted persons include fatigue, sore throat, headache, muscle aches and congestion. You do not need to have all these symptoms to have COVID. Be vigilant and get tested when you are ill and avoid infecting others.
Your Mask Protects You — and Others, Too
We are a community. While the decision to wear a mask will often be up to you, your decision continues to affect you and those around you. Wearing a good, well-fitting mask indoors is still recommended where distancing is not possible and COVID risk remains present. Further, Drexel strongly recommends that unvaccinated persons always mask when indoors for their protection. Evidence suggests that wearing a well-fitting, high filtration mask can substantially reduce the wearer's exposure to the coronavirus as well as many other respiratory infections. As we change our mask requirements in certain spaces, Drexel will provide KN95 and/or KF94 masks for all students and employees who request one. Locations to request a mask include the Hagerty Library, DAC, Recreation Center, Main Building Lobby, Kline School of Law, New College Building lobby, the Queen Lane security desk and COVID testing centers.
Pausing the Drexel Visitor Pass
Starting March 14, visitors to Drexel will no longer be required to check in prior to arrival using the Drexel Health Checker Visitor Pass. Visitors must follow the mask guidelines for the space they are visiting.
Weekly COVID testing for vaccine-exempted students and employees will continue at this time. Drexel will also continue to provide COVID testing for symptomatic and exposed persons and for those seeking a test at our three sites. Please note that all testing sites will be closed March 21 through March 25. During the week of March 28, returning students living in Drexel Housing will undergo COVID testing.
We are excited that the current trends allow us to make multiple options available to our community in terms of COVID-19 precautions. However, as we have seen, the course of this pandemic is not a straight line. While we hope that COVID trends continue downwards, with your input, Drexel will keep evaluating our community's public health needs, and guidelines may become more stringent again as situations change. It may not be over, but it is so much better!
Thank you for standing with us on this journey and looking after one another.
As always, you can find the latest updates on our Response to Coronavirus site.
Marla J. Gold
Chief Wellness Officer
Senior Vice Provost for Community Health