All community members must wear masks in all indoor shared, instructional and research spaces on campus as a precaution against the Delta variant regardless of vaccination status, Drexel announced in an email Aug 3. This change comes weeks after Drexel previously announced that vaccinated students were encouraged, but not required, to wear masks.
The mask mandate was reinstated as Drexel works to keep up with the changing circumstances surrounding the Delta variant. According to Senior Vice Provost for Community Health and Chief Wellness Officer Marla J. Gold, “The Delta variant is now affecting regional viral transmission levels, cases and hospitalization. Consistent with newly published data concerning the Delta variant, Drexel is now requiring that all students and employees wear a face mask whenever they are in Drexel instructional and research spaces — even if they are fully vaccinated. Specifically, masks are to be worn in classrooms, lecture halls and seminar rooms. Masks are also now required when in Drexel libraries and in designated research laboratories/spaces. In addition, masks must be worn in all public spaces and settings where members of the public will use University facilities or visit the University.”
However, some exceptions for this mask mandate include certain unnamed “pedagogical issues” for faculty and students in their dorm rooms among roommates or by themselves, said Gold.
Drexel’s new mask mandate is consistent with new CDC recommendations released July 27.
“In areas with substantial and high transmission, CDC recommends fully vaccinated people wear masks in public indoor settings to help prevent the spread of the Delta variants and protect others — this includes school,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said.
This new CDC recommendation also caused Philadelphia officials to reimplement a citywide mask mandate Aug. 12.
According to Acting Health Commissioner Cheryl Bettigole, “Everyone in Philadelphia must wear a mask when going into any business or institution, with an exception for those that require vaccinations. Restaurants and bars will need to require masks for all staff and customers, except when people are seated and actively eating and drinking.”
In addition, Philadelphia officials announced Aug. 13 a regulation mandating vaccination for all employees and students at Philadelphia colleges and universities, with the exception of special medical or religious circumstances, said Gold and Janet Cruz, Director of Student Health.
Drexel is well on its way to meet this compliance. Gold and Cruz revealed that approximately 80 percent of the campus community showed proof of vaccination in an Aug. 19 email. The email also stated that number is rising daily as the fall quarter approaches.
With the Delta variant once again causing COVID cases to spike, mask wearing and vaccination are highly reccommended. Although following all mask mandates is important in combating COVID 19, vaccinations still remain the most effective method of prevention. As such, the University continues to urge vaccination among its students and staff to get the 80 percent reported vaccination rate as close to 100 percent as possible.