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Mask Update

November 2, 2021

To the Campus Community: 

As the community may be aware, the city of Springfield is lifting its mask mandate, effective November 1, 2021.

Western New England University will maintain its current mask policy through the end of the semester. 

This decision does not come lightly and was carefully evaluated by WNE’s Emergency Management Response Team (EMRT) along with the Advisory Team. Several key points were considered in making this decision, including but not limited to; the current state of COVID-19 across campus, Hampden County’s level of COVID-19 transmission, and access to vaccines and boosters for key demographics. 

We are a transient campus with a fair amount of movement on and off-campus, which brings an inherent risk to the campus community. Although case levels at WNE remain low, Hampden County remains rated by the CDC as HIGH for COVID-19 transmission (CDC Case Data Tracker). This data point must be factored into our decision. 

Many faculty and staff have young children at home that are at risk and unable to be vaccinated just yet. EMRT is carefully following the recent development of the FDA approving the Pfizer vaccine in children ages 5 through 11 years of age, and we are anxiously awaiting the guidance and recommendations from the CDC’s  Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices expected this Tuesday, November 2, 2021. Full immunity levels however for this age group are not expected until mid-December. This, too, must be factored into our decisions. 

Although the vaccines are very effective, research has demonstrated that booster shots are necessary to maintain high immunity levels among some demographic groups. Booster guidelines were just announced for Moderna and Janssen (Johnson and Johnson) brands, in addition to those previously published by Pfizer. The Massachusetts Vaccine Unit is in the process of ramping up booster clinics across the state.

We are in the home stretch of the semester, and the health and safety of the entire Golden Bear community continues to be our top priority. We recognize this semester hasn’t been easy, and for some this will be disappointing news, but when all facts are evaluated, this is the right decision for the WNE community at this time. Our sincere thanks to all, for the focused and ongoing attention to maintaining all safety protocols throughout the semester.

If you have any questions about this decision, you can reach out to Health Services (Healthservices@wne.edu) or call 413-782-1211.