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Beginning Feb. 28, Face Coverings Will be Optional on Campus

By Jacquie Moloney

The continuing rapid decline of COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts and new guidance from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health have signaled a new phase in the pandemic.

While any individual may choose to continue to wear a face covering, beginning Monday, Feb. 28, UMass Lowell will end its indoor face covering mandate for all campus locations, including the Tsongas Center and the Inn and Conference Center. Face coverings will continue to be required on university buses and shuttles as well as in the Wellness Center.

In addition to public health guidance, this decision has been informed by discussions within the campus community as well as the mitigation steps we have taken during the pandemic.

UMass Lowell is near-universally vaccinated and increasingly boosted as more of our campus population becomes eligible each day. Boosted students, remember to upload your vaccination documentation to the student portal. Employees should upload their booster documentation to this secure form.

We’ve also reached a point where N-95/KN-95 masks and antigen tests are highly available, including for free from UMass Lowell. Every campus member is still expected to conduct daily symptom checks and to stay home or in your residence hall room if ill and surveillance testing for those who are exempt from the vaccine mandate remains in place.

Further, wastewater COVID-19 levels in the state – a reliable leading indicator of the direction of the pandemic – continue to plummet. And face covering mandates are ending at educational institutions at all levels throughout Massachusetts and across the country.

Throughout the pandemic, UMass Lowell has sought to balance risk and our pursuit of a normal campus experience. We’ve continuously weighed the benefits and drawbacks as our approach has evolved with the status of the pandemic and our understanding of the disease. We also know that our campus community members face different health and home circumstances and have throughout the last two years approached COVID-19 risks differently.

In the weeks ahead, it is more important than ever that we continue to extend to our peers, friends and colleagues a generosity of compassion and empathy. While face coverings are no longer required, the obligation to treat with respect and kindness those whose choices may differ from ours is unwavering.

As we have throughout, UMass Lowell will continue to monitor cases and look to public health guidance as we make COVID-19 decisions. And regardless of what the future looks like, I am confident in our ability to continue to take steps to ensure we are providing an outstanding college experience for our students and a safe and healthy work environment for our faculty and staff.

Thank you for all you do for UMass Lowell and for the people you impact every day.