Note: This letter originally appeared as an email sent to the Hopkins community on August 4, 2021.
Dear Johns Hopkins Community:
Given the rise in COVID cases in Maryland associated with the delta variant, Johns Hopkins University will reinstate its mandate that all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks indoors, effective Thurs., Aug. 5. We are also resuming restrictions on indoor eating, as detailed below. (The School of Medicine resumed its indoor masking requirement on Friday, per Johns Hopkins Medicine policies.)
As we communicated last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended a resumption of masking, even for those who have been vaccinated, in communities where the incidence of COVID exceeds 50 or more new cases per 100,000 people or where the positivity rate is greater than 8% during a seven-day period, and Maryland has now crossed that threshold. We are hopeful that this increase in cases will abate in the coming weeks, but our cautious approach to protecting our campus community and our Baltimore neighbors warrants this added precaution.
Vaccination remains the most important step you can take to keep yourself and your family safe. While recent data suggests that the delta variant can be transmitted by and among people who have been vaccinated, the COVID vaccines remain remarkably effective against preventing severe illness and hospitalization. Johns Hopkins University has required all faculty, staff, and students to have documented their full vaccination or to have applied for an exception on medical, religious, or pregnancy grounds as of Aug. 1, and more than 80% have done so—exceeding the general population. Our goal remains to reach as close as possible to 100% vaccination within our community, and we will follow up with those who have not yet documented their vaccination.
Our plans for an in-person fall semester, including a broad return of staff to in-person work, remain unchanged. After consultation with our Health Advisory Council, the University Pandemic Academic Advisory Committee, and others, we are confident that masking and restrictions on indoor eating, combined with our vaccination mandate, will improve our measures to keep our community safe and prevent transmission to other vulnerable populations, those who have approved vaccine exceptions, and children under 12 years old, who are not yet eligible for COVID vaccines. We recognize that masking in the workplace may be inconvenient, but we believe the benefits of returning together as a community in pursuit of our common mission outweigh that discomfort.
Specifically, the following operational changes are enacted beginning Aug. 5:
Indoor face-coverings are universally mandated across campus except in the following situations:
In single-occupancy offices and shared office locations where 6-foot distancing can be maintained;
In residence hall dorm rooms/suites/apartments, only with roommates;
When eating or drinking at a distance of at least 6 feet from any other person;
With permission from the Provost’s Office, in instructional settings where there is a pedagogic rationale and sufficient distancing
Eating meals in indoor shared spaces is restricted to those areas where 6-foot distance can be maintained. Momentary unmasking for drinks/snacks remains permitted.
Food at university-sponsored indoor events will be suspended except for:
Grab-and-go food to be taken away from the event; or
Drinks/snacks that can be consumed with only momentary unmasking
As always, your health and safety remain our top priorities, and we will continue to monitor conditions to determine whether our COVID safety protocols need to be adjusted. We are grateful for your diligence and conscientiousness in maintaining proper COVID safety practices throughout the pandemic, and we are confident that we can have a productive, rewarding, and healthy fall semester.
Stay safe and be well,
Professor and Executive Vice Provost for Academic Affairs
Professor, Vice Provost, and Chief Risk Officer
Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer