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Mask FAQ

Salem State will continue to be a mask-flexible campus this 2022- 23 academic year. 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 Masking Guidelines for more information.

 

  • We encourage community members to take precautions, such as wearing a mask, for their own health and follow public health guidance. At this time, whether a campus community wears a mask on campus is their choice, except for a few locations where masks are required. This applies to health care spaces such as CHS and Athletic Training s. Individuals may request that others wear masks inside their assigned offices or workspaces. We expect employees and students will be respectful of these requests 

  •  SSU reserves the right to return to a mask mandate if pandemic conditions warrant additional measures.  

  • 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.   

  • As such, please continue to bring a mask with you and have it available when on campus.  

  • 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 an effective mask, such as a double mask or a KN95 mask. 

  • Masks or face coverings are recommended to both protect yourself from being exposed to the virus, and protect those around you, if you were to be unknowingly infected. The risk of viral transmission is higher without masks, 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 a lower 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 the decisions and boundaries of others especially regarding 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. SSU may reinstate the   indoor mask mandates if conditions warrant, such as a significant increase in transmission   and/or have unfavorable local hospitalization rates.   

  • In a mask-flexible environment, please be aware that there are a few locations where masks continue to be mandatory: 

  • Health care settings like counseling and health services, athletic training facilities. 

  • 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. 

  • We recommend that students or employees who are not vaccinated should wear a well-fitted mask indoors in public areas, regardless of community transmission. 

  • We recommend that 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 should wear a well-fitted mask indoors in public areas, regardless of community transmission. 

  • 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 accommodation. 

  • 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 recommend wearing a higher quality mask, such as KN95s or double masking if a KN95 is not available. 

  • 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 protection comparable to 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. 

  • 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 accommodation.   

  • Students requiring a mask due to an underlying health condition and those who are participating in on-campus instruction may reach out to Disability Services for accommodation. 

  • Please take advantage of free and reduced 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, including in clinical spaces such as 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 leader Dean Castillo  

  • 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 other individual’s personal or family risk factors. Being courteous to these requests will aid in our entire community’s health and wellness.   

  • 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.    

  • We will hold on-campus booster clinics at the following times and locations, walk-in appointments or pre-registration accommodated:  

    • Saturday, 9/3, O’Keefe Athletic Complex Atrium from 9am-5pm 

    • Sunday, 9/4, O’Keefe Athletic Complex Atrium from 9am-5pm 

    • Monday, 9/5, O’Keefe Athletic Complex Atrium from 9am-5pm  

    • Tuesday, 9/6, O’Keefe Athletic Complex, Twohig Gym, 11am-4pm 

    • Wednesday, 9/7, O’Keefe Athletic Complex, Outdoors, 4pm-9pm 

    • Monday, 9/12, North Campus Quad/McKeown Plaza, Outdoors, 11am-2pm 

  • 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.   

  • 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.  

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