Mitchell Hamline is instituting a mask requirement for everyone on campus as of Sept. 1, 2021.
Below is a message from Dean Anthony Niedwiecki and the Executive Leadership Team announcing the change.
Aug. 30, 2021
Dear faculty and staff –
Thank you for all you have done this fall to help us return to campus safely. On our most important metric—COVID-19 cases on campus—we are succeeding (knock on wood.) We have had no reported cases on campus this fall.
But there are troubling signs we want to respond to before they start to affect the health of our community. Ramsey County now has high levels of community transmission, as tracked by the CDC. Community transmission has grown markedly nationwide over the past 4-6 weeks as communities grapple with the highly contagious and dangerous delta variant. The severity of this trend is further evidenced by an increase in hospitalizations and a corresponding decrease in available staffed beds for COVID-19 patients. Although we had hoped that a “strong recommendation” for mask wearing that we issued in our fall campus plan would be sufficient, with the level of spread within Ramsey County we feel it is important to review this guidance.
We said in that fall plan that we would reinstate a mask requirement if conditions warranted. For the reasons above, with the support of our COVID-19 committee and following the recommendation of our medical consultant and guidance issued by the CDC, we are implementing a mask requirement effective Wednesday, September 1, as follows:
- Everyone must wear a mask at all times in the building, except in single-person offices with a door (preferably closed).
Note: Faculty may remove their mask while teaching classes, if necessary, provided they take all reasonable measures to stay physically distanced from students. Faculty who are co-teaching would both need to be masked.
- All visitors to the building must wear a mask.
- Masks may be removed when eating and drinking. When eating and drinking near others, it is best to be outside or in large open spaces to allow for sufficient air flow. If this is not feasible, please maintain as much distance as possible.
Although the vaccination rate in Ramsey County for age 12 and older is nearly 70% and the law school requires all faculty, staff, and students who are on campus to be vaccinated, we must continue to use every tool available to limit the impact of this virus. Our hope is that the addition of a mask requirement will further reduce the threat of transmission among our campus community at this very challenging time. If we are successful in keeping our case numbers at a very low level and if Ramsey County data moves in a positive direction, we anticipate being able to adjust this requirement depending on room size and number of people in a room.
It is likely that some of the trends we cited above will soon push us out of Level 1 (“Low”) to Level 2 (“Medium”) on our campus alert scale. That will bring with it some additional restrictions which we will outline at that time. But in advance of that, we are implementing the mask requirement in order to continue all Level 1 activities for as long as possible and reduce the opportunity for any on-campus cases.
Thank you for your continuing commitment to keeping this community safe, and please feel free to contact us with questions.
President and Dean
on behalf of the Executive Leadership Team: