As Dr. Nguyen announced earlier today, University policy will give Schools the option to allow instructors to teach without a mask if they meet certain requirements (outlined below) starting on March 3 (when updated University Environmental Health and Safety guidelines will post). The Faculty of Arts and Sciences will authorize this activity and eligible FAS instructors will have the option of teaching without a mask starting on Thursday. I am writing to describe how the FAS will implement this policy change.
Only those faculty who can always maintain a six-feet distance from their students are eligible for the option of teaching without a mask. We have inventoried all FAS classrooms and identified those rooms that meet this requirement, marking the six-feet distance as required by University policy. If you are teaching in a room that meets the six-feet requirement, you will be notified by the Office of the Registrar this week that you are eligible to teach without a mask should you wish to do so.
Eligible instructors who would like to use the option to teach without a mask must also meet other requirements. Only one lecturer in the classroom may remove their mask at a given time. The unmasked instructor must:
- Be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
- Have no symptoms of COVID-19.
- Have no close contact with an infected person in the past 10 days.
- Be current on all required COVID-19 testing
- Complete a COVID-19 test via Color at least twice weekly (even if their usual testing cadence is less frequent).
Eligible instructors must inform their students in advance if they intend to begin teaching without a mask. The University policy provides the following notification language for use by instructors: "In accordance with University guidance, the lecturer of this course will be removing their face covering for the purposes of instruction only. A distance of six feet from all class participants will be maintained at all times while unmasked. Per University policy, face coverings are required for all other classroom participants."
While eligible faculty will have the option to teach without a mask starting on March 3, it is just an option. All faculty who would prefer to remain masked may do so.
This change only applies to instructors. There has been no change in the requirement for students to remain masked in the classroom with a mask that meets the FAS minimum masking standard.
This change in policy marks another important step towards reclaiming our in-person, campus-based mission, in some ways the biggest we’ve taken as a community since we made the choice to pursue in-person instruction in the fall. The data informing this decision are strong, including a careful assessment of risks given campus and local trends and our community’s high vaccination and booster rate. The option of unmasked teaching is appropriate to the campus conditions we are seeing now and I am confident that we can move forward while continuing to maintain a safe environment. Should conditions change in ways that make this policy no longer advisable, however, we will, as always, be prepared to pivot our practices, guided by the expertise of the University’s medical advisory groups.
Edgerley Family Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences