SNHU masks (image courtesy: Redbubble)

The fall 2021 semester is approaching fast. Students are excited for the opportunity to return to campus for the first time in over a year and a half. Just as many are excited for their first time living on campus.

However, with the rapid spread of the Delta variant of Covid-19, SNHU has released a statement about what precautions will need to be taken on campus. These precautions are being placed on top of requiring vaccination for any student who wishes to return to campus.

Though the vaccines “provide…strong protection against serious illness and death,” they are not 100% effective, and fully vaccinated people can still get and spread the Delta variant, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) (last updated August 6 2021).

At the top of the list of major changes to campus life is the return of the mask mandate. “All students, faculty, and staff, regardless of vaccination status will be required to wear masks in all indoor SNHU public spaces,” says President Paul LeBlanc in a recent email. However, masks will not be required for outdoor gatherings of fully vaccinated students.

This change is in line with the CDC recommendations on their website, which states, “Given what we know about the Delta variant, vaccine effectiveness, and current vaccine coverage, layered prevention strategies, such as wearing masks, are needed to reduce the transmission of this variant.”

While masks will be required to attend classes, in the hallways of dorms and in the dining hall, they will not be required to pass between classes, hang out on the green space or attend an outdoor sporting event.

A final, though significant change to campus living is the restriction on visitors. Residence halls have a new restriction on the number of SNHU residential guests allowed per room, being one guest per person. Combined with previous changes, that person will need to wear a mask inside. The larger change, however, is to the off-campus guest policy.

“Students may have visitors on campus, but they must visit in common areas outside of residence halls and will be required to wear a face covering,” states the aforementioned email. This also follows the CDC guidelines for travel, domestic or otherwise, which is on their website.

In response to questions of move-in, SNHU answered by saying, “Resident students will be allowed two guests for move-in day, and face coverings will be required.”

While many students may be dismayed by the response from SNHU regarding the return of the mask mandate and required vaccines, this response is not without precedent. Many schools, both private and public across the country, are requiring masks.

These changes to campus may not last the entire semester though, as the email states. “We will continue to monitor state and federal health guidelines related to face coverings, surveillance testing, health screenings, and social distancing, and will adjust our policies as needed and hope that we can loosen restrictions as soon as it is safe to do so.”

It is possible the restrictions on masks and visitors may be lifted in the coming months, should the Delta variant stall out. Perhaps if SNHU students can prevent a major spread on campus by following the guidelines put in place, masks and visitor allowances will return to relative normalcy before the end of the semester.

To delve more into the specifics of SNHU’s Covid plan, visit the SNHU Return to On-Site Work & Campus Operation Plan, which is available at the following link: