News Garrett College Moves To Mask Optional - Garrett College
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Campus News

February 28th, 2022

Garrett College moves to mask-optional

Faculty may require masks in classrooms, labs through spring semester

Garrett College is moving from required indoor masking to a mask-optional status as of Saturday, March 5, but with individual faculty members permitted to retain the requirement in classrooms and lab spaces until the end of the spring semester.

College officials said the instructional-setting exemption was put in place due to the prolonged period of time faculty and students are in those enclosed spaces. Faculty and staff with private offices will also be permitted to require people entering those offices be masked through the end of the current semester.

"This is a transitional period with the intention of moving to a completely mask-optional status after completion of the spring semester," said Dr. Richard Midcap, Garrett College's president. "We're trying to address employee concerns with removing the mask mandate while still moving toward a more normal situation."

Midcap said the move to mask-optional was made after considering national, state and local factors.

"The CDC's new ‘community level' tool places Garrett County at the medium level, which does not advise indoor masking," noted Midcap. "Governor Hogan's recent lifting of the indoor mask mandate in state buildings, and Garrett County Public Schools' recent decision to move to mask-optional were also considered in the College's decision."

Midcap also cited readily available vaccines, boosters and at-home testing – along with the County's low hospitalization rate – as other factors in the decision.

"As of February 25th, there was one local COVID hospitalization," noted Midcap. "That's an important factor, given one of the initial rationales behind masking was the desire not to overwhelm the health care system."

Midcap emphasized that the mask-optional status is not meant to discourage those who feel more comfortable masking from doing so.

"Garrett College's administration strongly supports the right of individuals to continue to wear face masks if they choose to do so," said Midcap.

Midcap said the College's administration will continue to monitor the COVID situation and take whatever future steps are necessary.

"We re-implemented the mask requirement last August, after a three-month period of mask-optional status, as the second major COVID surge took place last summer," recalled Midcap. "If circumstances dictate that we need to transition back to face coverings, we will do so again. Let's hope that does not become necessary."