Keene State College students walk out of the Young Student Center last October. The college on Thursday lifted a temporary classroom mask mandate, which took effect two weeks ago when the school said COVID-19 cases were rising.
Two weeks after instituting a temporary mask mandate, face coverings are no longer required in Keene State College classrooms, in line with the original guidance the college issued Sept. 7, when the school said COVID-19 numbers were rising.
The mandate expired at 8 a.m. Thursday, President Melinda Treadwell said in a message distributed through the campus email system.
“Thanks in good part to your care for each other, COVID cases at the College have decreased substantially,” Treadwell said in the email. “We are happy that our collective efforts to slow this recent spread have proven effective.”
The email states that masks are still required in the campus Wellness Center and for instructional and support staff in the Child Development Center.
Keene State spokesman Paul Miller told The Sentinel last week the college attributed higher cases for the first two weeks of the semester to campus move-in days.
“We had thousands of individuals on campus over the course of a few days helping our students settle in,” Miller said in an email. “We recommended the in classroom mask mandate for 2 weeks as this will allow folks with illness time to recover, get us through the period of 10 days following exposure when individuals previously exposed to COVID are most likely to show symptoms or test positive, and allow time for case rates to decrease.”
He said the college’s COVID Leadership Team was monitoring case numbers daily before determining to rescind the mandate Thursday as planned.
Keene State recorded 76 coronavirus cases the week the mandate took effect, Miller said Thursday. Since then, the college saw 47 cases last week, and 27 this week, as of Thursday.
People on campus are encouraged to wear masks if they feel unwell, in addition to self-testing for COVID-19 if experiencing symptoms, Treadwell said in her email Wednesday.
“If you are in days 6-10 of isolation or if you have had contact with someone who tested positive, please wear a mask,” the email continued. “Also, please remember that individuals may request mask usage for their classrooms or office spaces and event organizers may choose to require masks at their events.”
Miller said last week that it’s up to individual faculty members whether they offer a remote option for their classes for students who contract COVID-19 this semester.
This story has been updated with specific COVID-19 case numbers provided by Keene State.Trisha Nail can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1436, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @byTrishaNail.
Trisha Nail can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1436, or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @byTrishaNail.