By Hanna Babek & Haley LaCardo – 1851 Contributors
As the pandemic nears its two year mark, the COVID-19 task force continues to update campus protocols to protect community members. As of February 19, masks are not required indoors except for in classes, and weekly testing is no longer mandatory.
COVID-19 Task Force Chairman David Hennessey said that since students returned from winter break, the campus’s positivity rate has ranged from under 1% to 2.5%. This, combined with the vaccine and booster rate of more than 98%, has led the task force to the decision to relax protocols.
Community members with vaccine exemptions are still required to test weekly and wear masks in all indoor facilities besides the dining hall and residence halls.
Some students said they are grateful for the updated protocols, and feel previous regulations, although necessary for the community’s safety, were sometimes inconvenient.
First-year graphic design major Erin Tilley felt this way about the previous testing system and is happy that testing is no longer mandatory, but grateful that it is still an option.
“The fact that Lasell has available, free testing for students and is keeping their cases down is more important,” Tilley said.
If a student does test positive, they can quarantine at home or on campus in Holt Hall, Pickard House or Chandler House. Director of Health Services, Richard Arnold, said “I reach out directly by telephone and answer their questions at that moment and provide guidance, followed up with an email.”
On day five of isolation, students are required to take a rapid test. If negative, students should go to Health Services for a confirmatory test so they can return to campus.
Lasell is modeling their COVID-19 guidelines in reference to the mandates that Newton has set in place. For the first semester, masks were required in publicly accessible buildings, such as athletic events and the library. Because areas such as residence halls aren’t considered publicly accessible, students were not required to wear masks within them.
However, with the Omicron surge at the beginning of this semester, the school announced on January 7 in an email from Associate Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs David Hennessey that there would be a mask mandate for all indoor spaces. This did not include residence halls and the dining hall.