Students at Johns Hopkins University are looking at some of the country’s most stringent COVID-19 masking policies when they return for the spring semester on January 24.
Students will be required to wear two masks or one N95 or KN95 mask and participate in mandatory twice-weekly COVID-19 testing. All this despite the fact that the school has a “near universal” vaccination rate, Townhall reported.
“We will require the use of N95s, KN95s, or a combination of a cloth mask with a surgical mask. A cloth mask alone or a surgical mask alone will no longer meet the university’s mask requirement,” the university wrote in a January 14 press release. “We will distribute a variety of mask types at numerous locations around the university, on all campuses, beginning next week. Whatever kind of university-approved mask you use, the most important thing is to wear it consistently and properly—with a tight fit and covering both the mouth and the nose.”
The school made this announcement even though it admitted there is a “near universal rate of vaccination within our community” and acknowledged that “the data suggest that omicron is more easily transmissible than other variants of the COVID virus and that it progresses more quickly but typically results in less severe illness and fewer hospitalizations—particularly among those who have been fully vaccinated, including booster doses.”
The school also reminded students about its booster mandate deadline of February 1. After getting a booster shot, students are required to register that they have done so.
Even after getting vaccinated and double masking, students will be tested twice a week whether symptomatic or not to see if they have the coronavirus, the virus that can cause COVID-19.
“In order to catch COVID cases more quickly and reduce the likelihood of outbreaks on campus, we have increased to twice a week our current mandatory testing requirements for undergraduate and graduate students who will be on campus, and we encourage faculty and staff to take advantage of our on-demand asymptomatic testing, which is available at a wide variety of locations across our campuses,” the school said.
Undergraduates who live on campus will also have to take a COVID-19 test upon returning to the school “and to quarantine in their rooms until they receive a negative result.”
The school said it will offer accommodations for those forced to isolate or quarantine and try to maintain in-person instruction as much as possible. The school also said it has “substantially increased our inventory of isolation housing compared to last semester, and we have adjusted our protocols to ensure we are prioritizing its use to house those undergraduates whose living situations put them at most risk of spreading the virus to others.”
The school will continue contact tracing to inform students who may have come in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. In addition, dining facilities will operate as a “grab-and-go service” and “special permission will be required for all nonacademic indoor events of 50 people or more through Feb. 6.” Grab-and-go service will not be offered at events.
The school further noted that fully vaccinated students who are boosted will not be required to quarantine but those who have vaccine exceptions or are not yet boosted will still have to quarantine if told.