By Kait Bedell – News Editor
After two years of the COVID-19 pandemic impacting decisions made around campus, the Lasell community will no longer require masks in the classroom.
The COVID-19 Task Force announced in an email to the Lasell community from Dean of Student Affairs Dean Hennessey that the mask policy in classrooms would be selectively optional, effective March 28.
According to Hennessey, the decision was based on the decrease in positive cases locally and nationally. The COVID-19 dashboard currently states that there have been no positive cases in the last seven days.
The email also stated that the vaccination and booster rate of Lasell is over 98%, which factored into the decision.
“Lasell’s campus remains one of the safest places in the entire country and this decision is one based in science, with the physical and mental health of our community at the forefront,” Hennessey said.
Under the new policy, those who still wish to wear a mask may do so, and professors have the authority to continue requiring masks in individual classes.
Deputy Title IX Coordinator and Assistant Professor Karin Raye chose to continue to mandate masks in her classes.
In a Canvas announcement to her CJ335: Sexual Violence Advocacy class, Raye said, “I have chosen to keep masks mandatory in our CJ335 classroom through the remainder of the semester because I have not had COVID yet and want to be very careful about getting it and bringing it back to my family.”
She continued, “as you know, we have had folks on Zoom during the semester because of COVID and I want to do everything in my power to keep you safe and in the classroom.”
Students and faculty members with approved vaccination exemptions will still be required to wear masks inside all buildings on campus including classrooms.
“I think the mask mandate is important for all of us after a long hard couple years with COVID,” said sophomore exercise science major Katrina Abouzied. “It brings some joy to the campus that there is hope we can have a completely normal year soon,” she said.
Senior fashion design and production major Nicolas Brown offered a different point of view. “I personally think it’s a bad and unsafe decision to make masks optional in classrooms. We are actively still in a pandemic and with the newest variant BA.2 being even more transmissible than Omicron, it puts everyone in danger of contracting COVID,” he said.
The Task Force said students experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should visit Health Services immediately, while faculty members should stay home and contact their doctor.
“As throughout the pandemic, we will continue to monitor conditions on our campus and in the surrounding community and adjust our practices as circumstances dictate,” the Task Force said.