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WPI Update: Changes to Masking and COVID Testing

DEPARTMENT(S): 
February 11, 2022

This message was sent to the WPI community.

WPI Campus Update

 

Message Highlights:

As of Sunday, February 13:

  • Masks are now optional indoors, with some exceptions, below. 
  • Required routine COVID-19 testing will be reduced to once weekly (but you may still test twice weekly if you choose); details are below.
  • COVID-19 monitoring and management is shifting to regular business operations.

 

Masks

Monday evening, the Worcester Board of Health voted to lift the city’s mask mandate as of February 18. In addition, the city will allow any educational institution or business with a vaccination mandate and 90% of its students or employees vaccinated to end their mask mandates prior to February 18. Thanks to your efforts, WPI’s campus vaccination rate is well above 90%—and our case numbers have come down and are manageable. Thus, effective Sunday, February 13, masks are optional indoors for all students, faculty, staff, visitors, and others on campus, with a few exceptions noted below

Mask Exceptions and Recommendations:

  • WPI continues to strongly encourage masking. One-way masking with a KN95 or N95 provides significant protection. Free, high-quality masks are available at the testing center in Harrington Auditorium.
  • Masking will continue to be required in Health Services spaces and WPI vehicles (i.e., SNAP van, and athletic transportation) per the Massachusetts DPH and NCAA. SDCC clinicians, on a case-by-case basis, may offer students the opportunity to meet without masks if both the student and counselor agree. 
  • For individuals in isolation, masks will continue to be required for the full 10-day isolation period.
  • For all close contacts, masks will continue to be required for five full days after exposure to a positive person.
  • WPI strongly recommends masking for anyone who is unvaccinated, immunocompromised, over the age of 75, or who lives and/or works closely with others who are immunocompromised or over the age of 75.
  • Guests, visitors, and spectators who are not in WPI’s testing program are asked to continue providing proof of vaccination or a negative test result when attending events on campus, per the current policy.

Please remember that masking will still be required in public spaces throughout the City of Worcester until February 18; please abide by mask requirements at businesses and other organizations in the community. 

In addition, many on our campus remain concerned about COVID-19 and may choose to continue to mask. We ask that you respect others’ needs and choices and that you continue to be thoughtful, careful, and supportive of all others in our community. Please keep a mask handy in case a friend or colleague asks you to wear one.

COVID-19 Testing

Also effective Sunday, February 13, we will be requiring just one weekly COVID-19 test for all students, faculty, and staff, instead of the two tests currently required. If you would like to continue to test two times weekly, you may do so. We trust everyone in our community will be responsible in continuing to self-monitor for any COVID-19 symptoms and obtain a test as soon as possible if symptoms appear.

  • Any students experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should immediately get a rapid test at the Hackfeld rapid testing site or, if symptoms are concerning, contact Health Services at 508-831-5520 during normal business hours to make an appointment to be seen. 
  • Individuals who are close contacts should continue with routine testing at Harrington Auditorium and get tested (also at Harrington) five days after exposure. If symptoms develop, get a rapid test as soon as possible at the Hackfeld site.
  • Employees with symptoms should contact their primary care provider, or they may make an appointment for a rapid test as well. 

If you have recently had COVID-19, you are exempt from routine testing at Harrington Auditorium for 90 days. If COVID-like symptoms develop within that 90-day period, contact Health Services or your primary care provider for testing instructions.  

COVID-19 Monitoring Will Continue  

As the university returns to more normal operations, we are disbanding the Coronavirus Emergency Response Team (CERT), which has been meeting since early 2020. We will continue to regularly monitor our campus status, along with local, regional, and national public health and COVID-19 trends as they may impact the university and its operations, and will respond accordingly. WPI sincerely thanks the members of CERT and their teams for their tireless leadership, creativity and problem solving, and dedication to the students, faculty, staff, families, visitors, and partners throughout the pandemic.

We hope that these additional changes toward normal operations will allow our community to build greater connection with one another. Please note: you’ll see new signage going up all around campus in the coming week.