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Mask FAQ

Salem State will become a mask-flexible campus beginning February 28, 2022. What follows is a list of anticipated questions and their answers to help guide our community through this transition. Please be aware that the FAQ's will be adjusted to respond to trending questions from our community. Mask safety protocols at Salem State follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. View CDC COVID-19 health and safety guidelines.

 

  • We have removed the indoor mask requirement in the residence halls, dining halls and the Gassett Fitness Center. Masks are no longer required on the rest of campus except for classrooms. Individual offices or workspaces may require a mask based on the occupant’s request.
  • After Monday, March 21, 2022, masks will be optional on our campus except for: 
    • Public transportation, such as the Viking Shuttle  
    • Health care settings like counseling and health services, athletic training facilities, and the COVID-19 testing site
    • Masks may be required at certain large, high-density indoor campus events depending on organizer requirements, in consultation with COVID-19 safety team leaders Dean Castillo and Chief Labonte. 
  • This means that in most on-campus locations, individuals should choose for themselves when to wear a mask. We recognize that everyone may have different circumstances and comfort levels. We encourage the community to continue to follow public health guidance and to be considerate of and respectful of each other and our choices around mask-wearing.  
  • Please be advised that in a mask-flexible environment you cannot require a student, peer, or colleague to wear (or not wear) a mask should they choose differently. If you have concerns about your own health and safety, please continue to wear a mask, and we encourage you to double mask or wear a KN95 mask.

Stay up to date with the COVID-19 vaccines

  • Salem State continues to require that all community members receive the COVID vaccine, including the booster, and upload proof to the student health portal or CoVerified (for employees).
  • Students who are not up to date are at risk of getting a registration hold. Those who still need to receive vaccines can find readily available appointments on vaxfinder.mass.gov. Students should submit their vaccine documentation to their student health portal.
  • Community members who receive exemptions need to continue to take part in weekly testing, and if not boosted will have to quarantine if exposed.  

Use CoVerified 

  • To monitor your symptoms, schedule and receive test results, and show your badge.
  • Campus offices and spaces will continue to require community members to show their badges.  

Get tested if you have symptoms

  • Please continue to monitor and report symptoms on CoVerified before coming to campus.
  • We will continue to offer testing on campus four days per week for all community members.  
  • If you test positive from an off-campus test (PCR or rapid), please upload the test result into CoVerified and communicate with health services or HR (if you are an employee).  

Follow quarantine and isolation when needed 

  • Individuals who are exposed as close contacts to someone who is positive for COVID-19 will have to quarantine if they are not boosted or if they develop symptoms.  
  • Individuals who test positive will have to follow isolation guidelines and remain off campus for at least five days.  
  • Please work with Counseling and Health Services if you are a student or Human Resources if you are an employee. They will notify your faculty or supervisor if you need to remain off campus for at least five days. 

Continue to maintain physical distance 

  • Classrooms should maintain 3 feet of distance between individuals 
  • Offices and in-person meeting spaces continue to not exceed 75% capacity 
  • Masks or face coverings are recommended to both protect yourself from being exposed to the virus, and also protect those around you, if you were to be unknowingly infected. Without masks, the risk of viral transmission is higher, particularly when there are increased rates of the virus in our community.  
  • Even though a highly vaccinated community will experience lower rates of cases, lower rates of serious disease and need for hospitalization, it is still important to protect our health, reduce the risk of spread of the disease to more vulnerable populations, and to help reduce the strain on our health care systems.  
  • Some individuals, who are either vulnerable themselves or are in close contact with vulnerable individuals, may decide to continue to mask. In this case, it is important for these individuals to wear the most effective mask to protect their own health, which most often will be a well fitted, clean KN95.  
  • In a one-way masking environment, it is still crucial for those that are symptomatic (even in the presence of a negative COVID test) or who have had a known exposure, to wear a well fitted, effective mask. This will protect those around them and reduce the risk of unknowingly spreading the virus.  
  • As we transition to a one-way masking environment, it is important to respect others decisions and boundaries, especially in regard to mask wearing.  

Mask safety protocols at Salem State follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. View CDC COVID-19 health and safety guidelines.

  • Public health experts recommend the use of indoor masks, regardless of vaccination status, whenever there is a high level of transmission of the virus in the region and/or unfavorable local hospitalization rates, regardless of vaccination status. It is likely indoor mask mandates may return when we are in periods of high transmission and/or have unfavorable local hospitalization rates.  
  • As we transition to a mask-flexible environment, please be aware that there are a few locations where masks continue to be mandatory:
    • Public transportation, such as the Viking Shuttle  
    • Health care settings like counseling and health services, athletic training facilities, and the COVID-19 testing site
    • Masks may be required at certain large, high-density indoor campus events depending on organizer requirements, in consultation with COVID-19 safety team leaders Dean Castillo and Chief Labonte. 
  • Even during times of lower transmission, when the indoor mask mandate is relaxed, certain individuals will benefit from the use of an effective mask while in public indoor areas. Based on the most recent public health guidance continued mask use is recommended for: 
    • Students or employees who tested positive for COVID-19 and ended their isolation after day 5 should wear a mask in public spaces until day 10.
    • Students or employees who were identified as close contacts and were either exempt from quarantine or ended it after day 5 should wear a mask in public spaces until day 10 from their last contact with a COVID-19-positive person.
    • Students or employees experiencing mild symptoms who received a negative test may come to campus while wearing a mask, under some circumstances.
    • Students or employees who are not vaccinated should wear a well-fitted mask indoors in public areas, regardless of community transmission.
    • Students or employees who are not up to date with the COVID-19 vaccinations, meaning they are eligible for a booster but have not received it.
    • Students or employees who are at increased risk for severe disease or have a weakened immune system.
      • Employees requiring a mask due to an underlying health condition and who want to participate in required on-campus activities may reach out to Human Resources for accommodations.
      • Students requiring a mask due to an underlying health condition and who are participating in on-campus instruction may reach out to Disability Services for accommodation.
    • Students or employees who live or come in close contact with individuals who are at increased risk for severe disease, have a weakened immune system, or are unvaccinated or not up to date with the COVID-19 vaccine.
    • Students or employees who simply feel more comfortable wearing a mask in public or in crowded spaces. 
  • During times of high transmission, public health experts are recommending double masking or wearing a higher quality mask, such as KN95s. 
  • Currently, public health experts recommend one-way masking as an effective way of protecting yourself, even if everyone else around you is not wearing a mask. If anyone is concerned about their own health or status, wearing a high-quality mask, such as a KN95, provides better protection than being in an environment where everyone is wearing a cloth mask.
  • Please be aware that any mask worn properly, covering the nose and mouth, is more effective than no mask. If you do not have reliable access to KN95 or N95 masks, consider these options: 
    • Most Effective: Double-layer masking with a surgical mask under the cloth mask 
    • Effective: Surgical mask only 
    • Least effective: Cloth mask only.  
    • We do not recommend cloth masks with gaps around the sides of the face or nose, exhalation valves, vents, or other openings, or single-layer fabric.
    • Wear a mask with the best fit, protection and comfort for you.
  • Disposable medical masks will be provided at the entrance to all campus buildings 
  • Salem State will be providing KN95 masks to our students' faculty and staff at the North Campus Dining Hall testing site starting the week of March 7, 2022, as supplies last. We encourage community members to schedule a test before and after spring break and pick up a KN95 mask if interested.
  • Employees requiring a mask due to an underlying health condition and who want to participate in required on-campus activities may reach out to Human Resources for accommodations.  
  • Students requiring a mask due to an underlying health condition and who are participating in on-campus instruction may reach out to Disability Services for accommodation.
  • While Salem State has a limited supply of masks that we can distribute, please take advantage of free and reduce cost masks, and over-the-counter rapid test kits that are available to you through your insurance and from local and federal government.
  • Some public spaces will still require mask use based on public health guidance, such as on public transportation, like the shuttle, or when seeking health care services, such as in counseling and health services. These areas will have signage on the doors, windows, or within the space. 
  • Masks may be required at certain large, high-density indoor campus events depending on organizer requirements, in consultation with COVID-19 safety team leaders Dean Castillo and Chief Labonte. 
  • In addition, some private offices or cubicles with individuals that continue to wear masks for personal or family vulnerabilities may request other individuals in their indoor area to also mask.
  • Please be kind and respectful of these requests. It is impossible for anyone to understand another individuals personal or family risk factors, and being courteous to these requests will aid in our entire community’s health and wellness.  

We hope that everyone has a pleasant and restful spring break. Please review the health and safety tips and testing requirements that will help us return to campus safety. 

Recommended testing before spring break

  • A PCR test is recommended before you depart for any travel, as well as when you return. Schedule your test on CoVerified. See the testing schedule.
  • SSU is requiring testing the week after spring break. Residential students must test with a PCR test between Monday, March 21- Thursday, 24, 2022.

Pick up supplies at North Dining Testing Site.

  • Home rapid antigen tests will be available for students to complete at home, prior to returning to campus after spring break. Students can pick up a kit at the testing site this week during testing hours. 
  • Faculty, staff, and students will also be able to pick up a KN95 mask, as supplies allow, at the North Campus Dining Commons test site during regular testing hours before and after spring break.  

Travel safety/COVID-19 travel guide 

There are increased risks of COVID-19 infection with any travel. If you do decide to travel, please consider the following:  

  • Wear a well-fitted, clean mask. Masks in order of efficacy in reducing one’s risk for COVID-19 infection are: KN95, double-masking with a disposable procedure mask underneath and a cloth mask on top, a disposable procedure mask, a cloth mask 
  • Participate in recommended and required testing 
  • Do not travel if you are sick. Please isolate and test.  
  • Distance from non-household members to the extent possible 
  • Seek activities outdoors when feasible and avoid crowds in poorly-ventilated indoor areas.

What to do if test positive over break? 

  • Immediate self-isolate away from others 
  • Upload your test results to CoVerified. If you took a home test, take a photo of your test result with a photo ID and in front of a laptop or phone with the date.  
  • Call our COVID-19 contact tracers at 978.542.3240, who will be available during spring break. 
  • Schedule an appointment with health services, if needed, on your student health portal. Employees should contact Human Resources
  • Students can access additional health and safety resources on their “Compass Resources for Returning Students” Canvas page  
  • Employees can access additional resources in Polaris and Safe Colleges.  
  • Employees should check to make sure their booster information in CoVerified is up to date. Visit Polaris for more information.
  • All Salem State students and employees are required to be fully immunized, including a booster shot, for COVID-19 as part of the vaccine mandate.  
  • Our final on-campus booster clinic for the semester is scheduled for North Campus Dining Commons on February 22 from 2-7pm, pre-registration recommended here, walk-ins also welcome.
  • If you have received the booster, please make sure you uploaded it into CoVerified if you are an employee, and into the health portal if you are a student.  
  • Students who remain in noncompliance with their immunization and booster requirement will receive noncompliance messaging from health services. Please review your medical clearances and messages in your health portal as students who are not in compliance by the end of February will face an immunization hold and will be restricted on CoVerified.  
  • If you plan to request an exemption to the booster or vaccine mandate: 
    • Employees should complete the Vaccine Exemption Request form, found in Polaris.  
    • Students should download the form and upload its completion to the “Downloadable Forms” section of the student health portal. 
  • Employees who are not in compliance with the booster and vaccine mandate by April will face disciplinary action.  

 

 

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