Beyond MoCo: Johns Hopkins and Georgetown Universities to Reinstate COVID-19 Mask Mandates

by Patrick Herron
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John Hopkins University in Baltimore and Georgetown University in D.C. will both be temporarily reinstating mask mandates due to an increase in COVID-19 cases among students, according to WTOP.

According to the report, the indoor mask requirement goes into effect today, April 7,  on the Main and Medical Center campuses at Georgetown.

At Johns Hopkins, masks will be required in all classrooms, as well as in common areas of residence and dining halls.

Georgetown students will also need to take a PCR test after Easter break the week of April 18, unless they have tested positive within the previous 90 days.

John Hopkins will be moving to twice-weekly testing for all undergraduate students for at least this week and the next two weeks (through April 22). The school will then re-evaluate and determine whether the increased testing remains necessary.

Full statements from Georgetown University and John Hopkins below:

Georgetown University:

We are temporarily reinstating an indoor mask requirement for the Main and Medical Center campuses, beginning Thursday, April 7. Please also see information below regarding COVID-19 testing and isolation procedures for undergraduate students.

We are taking these steps in response to a significant increase in COVID-19 cases on the Main Campus and Medical Center campuses this week, particularly among undergraduate students. We have not seen a comparable increase in cases on the Law Center campus. Thankfully, with the vast majority of our community up to date on vaccination, we are not seeing cases involving severe illness.

This increase is partly due to the impact of the BA.2 Omicron subvariant. BA.2 is now the dominant strain in the United States, including in DC and on our campuses. While recent studies show that BA.2 does not cause more severe illness than the initial Omicron variant, they also show that BA.2 is even more transmissible.

These circumstances present a challenge, but we have learned to adjust our mitigation measures to respond to changing conditions throughout the pandemic. Another adjustment is needed now to curb transmission on campus.

Temporary Reinstatement of Indoor Mask Requirement

Beginning Thursday, April 7, everyone will need to wear a mask indoors on the Main and Medical Center campuses, except when in their personal residence or private office or while actively eating or drinking. This requirement will be in effect until further notice.

We strongly recommend wearing a properly-fitting, high-quality mask (e.g., N95, KN95), which are available for free on campus. We also strongly recommend that all members of our community wear a mask when attending indoor social gatherings and events off campus as well.

In the March 18 message, we shared that the University’s mask-optional policy is contingent on public health conditions and that we may need to reinstate the indoor mask requirement or other restrictions for short periods.

We will continue to monitor campus case numbers and positivity ratesCOVID-19 community levels in DC and nationally, and global developments relating to the pandemic, which will inform our decision of when to resume the mask-optional policy.

COVID-19 Testing

All undergraduate students will need to take a PCR test after Easter break the week of April 18, unless they have tested positive within the previous 90 days. Please schedule your test in advance via the One Medical app or website. If you get tested through a third-party provider (i.e., not One Medical), please report your result through the COVID-19 Test Result Submission form.

If you have been exposed to anyone with a known COVID-19 infection, please get tested on day 5 following your exposure.

Please also get tested when selected to participate in the University’s random asymptomatic testing.

Isolation Procedures for Undergraduate Students

We are nearing full capacity at our campus hotel and have secured additional isolation space at a nearby hotel.

Residential students who test positive may need to share a hotel room or isolate in their campus residence, which means that COVID-positive and negative students may need to be housed together in the same room or apartment.

Students who test positive who prefer to isolate at home may travel home by private transportation, wearing a properly-fitting, high-quality mask (e.g., N95, KN95) while in a vehicle with others, but should not travel home by public transportation (e.g., plane, train, ride-share).

Symptom Monitoring

As a reminder, please stay home if you have symptoms of COVID-19, except to get tested, and report them to the Public Health team by completing the COVID-19 Symptom Check-In survey.

Dining and Events

We encourage grab-and-go dining and eating in the outdoor tents on campus, whenever possible. Events may continue as planned.

We’ve developed the frequently asked questions below to provide additional information, which we hope you will find helpful.

As we’ve done multiple times before, we will get through this surge together and continue to thrive despite these short-term restrictions.

Sincerely,

Ranit Mishori, M.D., MHS, FAAFP
Professor of Family Medicine, Vice President and Chief Public Health Officer

John Hopkins University: 

Dear Undergraduate Students,

Since Spring Break, we have received reports of COVID cases among undergraduates who have recently traveled or who were exposed to someone who has recently traveled. Nearly 100 undergraduate students have reported a positive test since April 1, with cases evenly split among residential and non-residential students. Consistent with what we have seen this term, many students who tested positive are asymptomatic, and the rest are experiencing only mild symptoms.

To help monitor the situation, we are moving to twice-weekly testing for all undergraduate students for at least this week and the next two weeks (through April 22). We will then re-evaluate and determine whether the increased testing remains necessary. We are also temporarily reinstating masking requirements for all people (students, staff, faculty, contractors, visitors, and guests) in common areas of the residence halls and in university dining facilities, except when actively eating or drinking. This is in addition to the required masking in classrooms. The university will continue to provide free, high-quality masks at asymptomatic testing sites.

In order to effectively manage our inventory of off-campus isolation housing, we may also adopt the isolation-in-place protocols outlined in a January message for residential undergraduates. In that case, we would prioritize off-campus isolation housing for residential students most in need, such as those with medical conditions that place them at higher risk from COVID; those who are experiencing more serious presentations of COVID; or those whose living arrangements may make it difficult to isolate (such as students living in doubles as opposed to suites with individual bedrooms). We currently are not accommodating our off-campus COVID-positive students in university isolation housing. However, they should continue to use the resources of Student Health and Wellness and Student Outreach and Support.

If students are asked to isolate in place, they must remain in their rooms and are not to leave unless there is a building or medical emergency. They will have meals delivered to their door, and mail, laundry, and trash removal services will be made available. Isolating students – whether in their rooms or in off-campus housing — are also instructed to communicate with their professors and create plans for handling absences from classes, assignments, and exams.

A member of the COVID Support Team will reach out to you as a follow up to answer any questions or concerns you may have about the isolation process and resources available to you.

We want to assure you that we are taking these precautions so that other students in the university’s residence hall buildings are not put at risk. To help students monitor their own health, we are making self-tests available to all residential students. These tests supplement, but do not replace, the mandatory asymptomatic saliva testing requirements that are in place. Test kits can be picked upfrom 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, in the Wolman Housing Office or AMR II Residential Life office.

We appreciate your continued flexibility and will provide to updates as conditions warrant.

Sincerely,

Kevin Shollenberger
Vice Provost for Student Health and Well-Being

 

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