Update from President Heineman

Mask Optional Policy begins April 11

Dear NSCC Community,

As I recently shared with you, the presidents of the Massachusetts Community Colleges unanimously voted to transition to a mask optional environment this spring. As with all of our decisions about COVID, there was intense research into the available data and expert guidance and also prolonged debate. Collectively, we agreed that we had followed the data and expert guidance when it suggested tightening health and safety measures and should do the same when it suggested loosening them.

Each college was given autonomy to determine when to make this shift. 

Once this decision was made, I asked the NSCC COVID Team to reconvene to discuss how and when the College could move to a mask optional environment. The team recommended that students attending in person classes be surveyed. An overwhelming majority (82% of over 600 responses) were in favor of the campus becoming mask optional. We shared the team’s feedback with our MACER team for further discussion. 

After weighing the feedback provided by the COVID and MACER teams, the Cabinet decided we will move to a mask optional campus as of Monday, April 11th. The vaccination mandate remains in place, and we will continue to require proof of vaccination by all coming to our campuses. Although the mask optional policy applies to all on-campus courses, services, and offices, the College reserves the right to mandate masks for certain campus events depending on the circumstances involved.  

Students and staff working off campus in clinical or field placement settings should follow the policies of those settings. 

During this transition, we encourage and fully support all to follow the mask wearing practices that make them feel most comfortable. Individuals choosing to wear a mask for any reason should feel empowered to do so. Any faculty, staff or student looking for an N95 mask or a rapid COVID test can stop by any of the campus Greeter Stations. 

As we move forward, please consider the following: keep a mask with you at all times and be cognizant of your environment; if folks in an office space are all wearing masks when you enter, consider masking up or asking if that would best support a colleague; continue to look after your own health and that of persons at high risk for COVID 19.  Stay home if you are sick. Communicate with your teams so that colleagues and supervisors can best be supportive.    

As always, do not hesitate to reach out with questions or concerns. Faculty and staff should contact their direct supervisor and students should contact deanofstudents@northshore.edu.

The implementation of the mask optional policy does not indicate that NSCC believes the pandemic is over, or that our need to be vigilant and responsive has come to an end. We will continue to closely monitor available data, consult relevant experts and react appropriately in case of rising health threats, as we have done for the last two years. 

This has been a long, long haul for all of us and I admire and thank the college community for the patience, grace and willingness to care for one another that you have exhibited. I know that we will individually and collectively continue to do everything within our power to keep our community healthy and safe while pursuing our educational mission.


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