Updates to Campus Masking Mandate

Dear Saint Mary’s Community,

The spring semester is off to a great start, with on-campus events like the Student Organization Fair, 44 Days kickoff, and basketball games establishing a vibrant energy throughout our community. Being able to host these events is a testament to the hard work put in by the entire Saint Mary’s community to keep each other safe, and I thank everyone for their efforts.

Although these events bring us closer to a feeling of normalcy, we recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over and case rates remain higher now than they were in the fall. On Wednesday, February 16th, Contra Costa County will lift its indoor mask mandate for most indoor public settings. While this means that fully vaccinated individuals will be able to take their masks off in many indoor spaces, the county’s latest guidance also includes a number of settings in which masks must stay on, including schools.

In accordance with the county’s guidance and in an attempt to minimize any disruptions to in-classroom instruction, Saint Mary’s will maintain its mask mandate in all classroom settings and the library. Wearing a mask is still strongly recommended for indoor events, athletic contests and the Joseph L. Alioto Recreation Center, but is not required in those venues. Further communication around events held inside UCU Pavilion will also be released soon. We will continue to monitor changes to county guidance as case rates increase or decline, and will make changes in campus policies as deemed necessary in the future.

Unvaccinated individuals (with full vaccination defined as two doses of either Pfizer or Moderna or one dose of Johnson & Johnson) are still required to mask in all indoor spaces. Also note that organizers of indoor events on campus scheduled for over an hour in duration are free to require masks at their event but they are responsible for communicating that policy with attendees as well as enforcement of that policy.

Saint Mary’s also continues to strongly recommend booster shots for all eligible individuals. To schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment or booster shot, visit the state’s MyTurn app or website. You may also schedule an appointment through Contra Costa Health Services by visiting its online portal or calling 1-833-829-2626. Local pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens also offer booster shot appointments. 

As these changes take effect, CCHS provides a great reminder for those who might have questions or are uncertain about the adjustment to masking rules:

Some people may understandably feel anxious about these changes to masking requirements in the county. People can continue to choose to wear face coverings around others whether it's mandated or not, and should respect people's choices around their health. Community members who are vaccinated and choose not to mask should respect the choices of those who continue to mask. (County) officials ask residents and visitors to be kind and respectful as people evaluate their risks and make choices to protect themselves and those around them.

Best regards,

Richard Plumb, PhD