To the University community:
For two years, our mitigation efforts and health and safety guidelines have evolved alongside the pandemic. We have been flexible and we have adapted as circumstances have changed. Throughout the pandemic, during times when case counts (including our own) have spiked, we have taken great care to respond with appropriate measures that safeguard our community and preserve our campus experience.
COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Philadelphia, its surrounding counties, and across the country have declined significantly. We are experiencing a similar trend on campus. Recently, two public health agencies that have served as our guideposts throughout the pandemic—the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health—have issued revisions to their federal and local masking recommendations. What’s more, our campus community has achieved a 95% vaccination rate and our booster rate is just under 70%, a figure that is among the best when compared to other colleges and universities in the region.
This revised guidance and these metrics provide a basis for our COVID-19 response to evolve.
Beginning Monday, March 7, La Salle University will transition to recommending, but not requiring, that masks be worn indoors. Please note, you must continue to carry an appropriate mask with you at all times.
I completely acknowledge that there is not a perfect solution here. I concede that this decision does not have unanimous support. In the past 48 hours, I have heard from several of you passionately making your case on both sides of this issue. This decision follows the guidance of federal and local health agencies and was made in consultation with our internal COVID-19 response team. With that said, we recognize that our community includes individuals for whom COVID-19 exposure presents a greater risk for them or a family member given additional health considerations. Many in our community are parents of young children for whom an approved vaccine is unavailable. Because of this, there are certain situations when you will be asked to still wear a mask:
Masks have helped limit the spread of COVID-19. If necessary, we will not hesitate to reinstitute a mask mandate in the event that we experience significantly increased case counts on campus or in the region.
Next steps and moving forward
This transition period requires us to practice respect for all persons, as is the Lasallian tradition. You may encounter others who prefer to remain masked at all times. It is our responsibility (and the University’s expectation) that you respect their personal decision.
The University will continue to provide surgical and KN-95 masks for free to all students, faculty, and staff at the following locations: entrances to all residence halls; the information desks at the Union and Connelly Library; the Information Technology help desk; the Office of Admission; TruMark Financial Center; Blue & Gold Dining Hall; and our campus testing center.
In addition, I urge you to utilize these available resources:
Through the pandemic, we have experienced significant uncertainty and immeasurable challenges. These two years have been hard on all of us. But this moment is an opportunity for us to respond with poise, empathy, and respect for each other while we adapt to these changing policies.
It is important that we, as Lasallians, promote and foster a community that considers the safety of others and maintains a culture of respect as we move through this next phase of the pandemic. I am grateful for your help as we work through this together.
Tim O’Shaughnessy, ’85