On Aug. 12, Father Kenneth Sicard, O.P., released an all-campus email pertaining to revised mask guidance for the Providence College community. The email detailed the reinstatement of required mask-wearing while inside campus buildings, regardless of vaccination status, effective Aug. 25.
The mandate comes as a proactive measure to prevent potential COVID-19 outbreaks before the start of the anticipated academic year, in efforts to keep both the College and the greater Providence communities safe.
Exceptions to the indoor mask mandate remain similar to the last two semesters. These mask exceptions include: students in their own residence hall rooms, faculty or staff members working alone in their own offices or isolated workspaces, and fully vaccinated faculty members while teaching.
Earlier this summer, mandated vaccinations, with strict medical and religious exemptions, were also established in efforts to control the risk of potential COVID-19 outbreaks among the College’s population.
In the mandate, Fr. Kenneth Sicard, O.P, stated, “Things are considerably more concerning than we anticipated even a few weeks ago, and, particularly because of the high transmissibility of the Delta variant, we need to band together to protect our campus community, as well as our family members and others with whom we come into contact.”
Along with reinstating mask mandates, the President’s Cabinet also released the new COVID-19 testing schedule. Vaccine-exempt and partially vaccinated students are required to test twice weekly (Mondays and Thursdays) at the Asymptomatic Testing Center, located in the former Mural Lounge space in Raymond Hall. For symptomatic testing, students should contact the Student Health Center for clinical testing.
The decision comes as COVID-19 cases continue to surge across the United States at a near exponential rate from last summer, in large part due to emerging variants. The highly contagious Delta variant continues to pose a significant threat to the United States in officially ending the pandemic. According to the Center for Disease and Control, the Delta variant accounts for “83 percent of new COVID-19 cases and 97 percent of people hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated.”
The rising cases and new hospitalizations are overwhelmingly those of the unvaccinated population. Although breakthrough infections do occur for those who are vaccinated, they are still rare. The states currently most affected by the COVID-19 case surge include Alabama, Wyoming, and Mississippi, all of which have the lowest rates of population fully vaccinated in the United States.
The newly established mask mandates and compulsory vaccinations will work toward ensuring the PC community remains healthy and safe from the highly contagious variants as its members aim to return to fully in-person academic classes.