Update on JHU’s masking policy, other COVID precautions

| March 9, 2022
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Note: this letter originally appeared as an email sent to the Hopkins community on March 9, 2022.

Dear Johns Hopkins community:

Given the continued improvements in COVID trends and after additional consultation with our experts in public health and infectious disease, we are now prepared to relax our indoor masking policy for vaccinated affiliates at Johns Hopkins University.

Since community transmission levels have continued to fall, as recorded on the JHU online testing dashboard and the JHU Coronavirus Resource Center, we feel confident to announce that effective immediately, masking in university administrative spaces, research labs, public spaces, public events, athletic facilities and nonclassroom communal spaces such as residence halls and libraries, will be optional for those who are vaccinated and boosted.

Until community transmission levels reach an even lower level, however, masks will remain required in classrooms, lab- and studio-based classes, and other spaces where instruction of university courses takes place. Mask use will be optional for instructors/presenters in classrooms if they are able to maintain a 6-foot distance from others in the room. Those who have been granted exceptions from the vaccination mandate will still be required to wear masks indoors. Mandatory once-weekly testing for students and twice-weekly testing for all affiliates with approved vaccination/booster exceptions remain in effect.

School of Medicine affiliates will continue to follow Johns Hopkins Medicine’s policies.

We have adopted this phased approach to relaxing our indoor masking requirement in consideration of the unique circumstances of our university community and in continued consultation with Johns Hopkins public health and medical experts, the University Pandemic Academic Advisory Committee, the Student Advisory Committee, and others. This decision follows the elimination of citywide indoor mask mandates in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. on March 1.

We know that many people hold strong personal feelings about masking. We also know that consistent, proper use of high-quality face masks is one of the most effective measures to limit the spread of COVID. We thus encourage students, faculty, and staff to continue masking if that makes them more comfortable or if they have particular circumstances that influence their personal level of risk. Free N95, KN95, KF94, and surgical masks to wear in combination with cloth masks will be available across the campus throughout the semester.

We are also moving ahead immediately with two changes that we previously announced would begin on March 19. Starting today:

  • Food service will be allowed at indoor events. Physical distancing should still be maintained where feasible. Remaining restrictions on off-campus business meals, which are currently limited to four people together, also are lifted.
  • Campus guests older than 5 years old who will be inside campus-operated buildings in the U.S. are expected to comply with university COVID vaccination requirements already in place for our affiliates. Details of those requirements and how they apply to campus guests are available on the vaccination page of the coronavirus information website.

We will continue to evaluate public health conditions and may lift remaining mask mandates if community COVID rates reach a lower level, likely not before the rate is less than 10 new cases per 100,000 people in the last seven days. If rates appear to rise over a sustained period, we may reinstate a broad masking requirement and other measures to ensure community safety.

Thank you for your diligence in following JHU’s policies throughout this pandemic. Details are updated regularly on the JHU Coronavirus Information website. We will continue to keep you informed and appreciate your collective efforts in pursuing Johns Hopkins’ mission while encouraging safety as much as possible.

Be well,

Stephen Gange
Professor and Executive Vice Provost for Academic Affairs

Pierre Joanis
Vice President for Human Resources

Jon Links
Professor, Vice Provost, and Chief Risk Officer

Kevin Shollenberger
Vice Provost for Student Health and Well-Being