Northeastern reinstates indoor mask mandate for fall term


Deanna Schwartz

Northeastern announced Aug. 11 the reinstatement of an indoor mask mandate, effective when students move in to university housing or Sept. 6.

Marta Hill, campus editor

In an email to all students sent Wednesday, Northeastern updated its masking protocols for all global campuses and reminded students of the vaccination requirement for fall term. This update reverses a May 19 announcement, when the university loosened mask restrictions for fully vaccinated individuals. 

“At the start of the fall term, fully vaccinated and unvaccinated students, faculty, staff, visitors, and vendors will also be required to wear a mask indoors — effective when students move into university housing or on Monday, September 6 for faculty, staff, and students not in university housing,” wrote Ken Henderson, chancellor and senior vice president for learning, in the email.

However, masks will not be required when outdoors, alone in an office or in an individual’s own university housing. 

This change comes after several weeks of slow growth in positive test rates in Massachusetts and across the country and after The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended the use of masks indoors for vaccinated people in some areas. 

The university announced July 13 that faculty, staff, students and vendor employees will be required to be tested once a week, regardless of vaccination status. 

“Given  our  plan to conduct frequent  surveillance testing, we  expect to see some  positive cases even among  the  fully  vaccinated,” the email read. “Fortunately, the  data show  that most  of these cases will be  mild and that the vaccines offer very effective  protection against severe illness.”

Northeastern reported 26 positive tests from Aug. 1 through Aug. 7 with a 1.2% seven-day average positivity rate. 

Also, Henderson reminded students of the Vaccine Verification form all students, faculty and staff on U.S. campuses must complete prior to the start of fall term. Students must complete the form by Aug. 15, and faculty and staff by Sept. 8.

“Although testing and mask-wearing are important safety measures, vaccination remains the most effective way to protect our community against the spread of COVID-19,” the email read. “We are starting the fall term with a cautious approach, recognizing that the COVID-19 pandemic is not yet over but that we have powerful tools—the vaccine, masks, and testing—to protect our community.”