The University announced new loosened masking restrictions in certain settings for individuals who are up to date with COVID-19 vaccines in a community-wide email Wednesday from Executive Vice President for Planning and Policy Russell Carey ’91 MA’06. Individuals who have “received all recommended COVID-19 vaccines, including any booster dose(s) when eligible,” are considered “up to date” on COVID-19 vaccines, Carey wrote.
According to the email, the modified masking regulations allow fully-vaccinated lecturers to remove their masks while speaking at events sponsored by academic or administrative departments and student organizations. Previously, fully-vaccinated instructors could remove their masks throughout the duration of a class. Students and audience members must continue to wear masks throughout the duration of instruction or other presentations.
The new policy also allows fully-vaccinated community members to remove their masks while performing in theater productions, dance and music performances and a cappella concerts, Carey wrote. Performers may remove their masks during rehearsals as well.
The loosened restrictions also include modifications to masking during indoor athletic and recreation activities. Vaccinated individuals may remove their masks when engaging in “varsity athletic practice and competition, club and intramural athletic competition” and during the “use of indoor athletic facilities such as the Nelson Fitness Center,” Carey wrote.
The email cited “improving public health conditions on campus and very high compliance rates with regard to the COVID-19 vaccination booster requirement” as reasons for the modifications to masking restrictions. The University’s up-to-date mask-wearing requirements can be found on Brown’s Campus Activity Status page.
The change comes at a time when the University is feeling “really good” about public health trends of positive COVID-19 cases reported on campus, Carey told The Herald. According to the most recent campus COVID-19 update, 88 students and six employees reported positive COVID-19 cases from Feb. 17 to 23, a decline in cases for the second week in a row from a high of 361 in mid-February.
At this point in the semester, many in-person events are taking place, Carey said, including performances this weekend — which the University was “mindful” of when making changes to masking requirements.
The modification to masking requirements is particularly important for students involved in performing arts, and exercising unmasked “makes for a much more enjoyable fitness experience,” Carey said. “We think these are important changes to make now, and they're supported by (the trends) we're seeing on campus.”
Haley Sandlow is a section editor covering science and research as well as admissions and financial aid. She is a junior from Chicago, Illinois, studying English and French.