Masks In Classroom (photo source: Taylor Posik)

SNHU President Paul LeBlanc sent out a school-wide email on October 21 stating that the mask mandate will be lifted starting November 1. Vaccinated staff and students will have the option to go without a mask while those who are unvaccinated will still be required to mask up.

The decision to pull back on mask requirements was based on the vaccination status of the general campus population along with “current trajectory of the pandemic,”  said LeBlanc. 

Despite these changes, some restrictions will remain in place. Faculty may still ask students to wear a mask in the classroom. This will also include locations such as the Wellness Center and other public spaces. However, “if you are requiring masks of others, the expectation is that you also wear a mask,” said LeBlanc. “We encourage and actively support anyone whose circumstances or preferences lead them to continue to wear a mask.”

Surveillance testing will increase in response to the relaxed mask requirements. “10% of the SNHU population eligible for surveillance testing will be randomly selected to participate in testing each week. Participants will be selected and receive direct communication through the CoVerified app and via email every Friday,” said LeBlanc. The COVID-19 Dashboard will still be available as a resource.

The email also stated that vaccinated staff and students who have been exposed to positive cases will not be required to quarantine. Instead, they will be advised to wear a mask for the required 14 days and monitor for symptoms, per public health guidelines. However, “the expectation is that you should not come in to any of our public facilities,” said LeBlanc.

Meanwhile, an executive decision was made to transition out the COVID Task Force. “…based on current conditions around the world and in our community, we will sunset the Coronavirus Task Force, the tireless group that has committed their time and expertise to help us navigate the past 18 months and saw to our safety,” said LeBlanc. This decision to “sunset” the COVID Task Force was not mentioned in the email sent to the students, only the one sent to faculty.

Due to the unpredictable nature of the pandemic, LeBlanc said SNHU leadership will continue to follow state and federal health guidelines and conditions in the community. Leadership will continue to update the SNHU community on any future changes that may occur.

“Our goal is to provide a more enjoyable and inviting work and learning environment without compromising safety,” said LeBlanc.