Updated COVID-19 facemask policy
As many of you are probably aware, many states, colleges and universities, and other organizations across the country are beginning to loosen their facemask requirements in response to the declining prevalence of COVID-19.
Over the past couple of weeks, the President’s Council has been discussing the possibility of rescinding Baylor’s facemask requirement in labs and classrooms during academic settings for the following reasons: the University’s high vaccination rates, currently at 82% overall (80% of students, 95% of faculty and 91% of staff); new research indicating that cloth facemasks add little protection against the more contagious COVID-19 variants; the Omicron variant appearing to have reached its peak across the country; and the significant drop in the number of COVID-19 cases in McLennan County, from a high in January 2022 of 937 cases to 36 confirmed active cases earlier this week.
After consultation with President Livingstone, the President’s Council, the University’s academic leadership, the Health Management Team, and Faculty Senate leadership, we believe the best course of action is to remove Baylor’s facemask requirement in labs and classrooms, effective this Monday, February 21, 2022. President Livingstone will officially announce this policy change in her weekly Presidential Perspectives early this afternoon.
We understand that some of you might have continued concerns about your health or the health of those around you. Following are some actions you can take to protect yourself as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wane:
- Wear an N95 facemask and maintain social distancing when you are around others, out in the community, or in a group. Research has shown that the best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is through wearing an N95 facemask. If you do not have N95 masks, you can request boxes from the Office of Environmental Health and Safety by sending an email to email@example.com.
- Continue to ask anyone in your personal office space to wear a facemask. We request that you please put up a sign letting people know your preferences. Signs can be downloaded here;
- If you have a medically documented disability and are requesting a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act, please work with Human Resources in accordance with BU-PP 415. If you have different concerns for your family or yourself that require additional considerations, please work with your department chair or HR to find a mutually agreeable solution.
Note: Some academic programs in conjunction with third-parties, such as the Louise Herrington School of Nursing, may have facemask requirements that differ from the University.
We pledge to continue monitoring the COVID-19 situation on our campus and within the community, and we will keep you informed if conditions warrant changes to our policies and procedures. Thank you for your patience, understanding and dedication over the past two years of the pandemic. We are optimistic as the spring semester continues.
Nancy Brickhouse, Ph.D.