Alexandra Boursican ’23
Following Governor Ned Lamont’s decision to lift the statewide mask mandate earlier this month, the Tripod spoke with Chief of Staff and Vice President for External Affairs Jason Rojas to discuss the College’s mask policy for the spring.
Rojas indicated that the College has no intention to lift the mask mandate anytime soon and and that “any decisions regarding a mask mandate will be made after consultation with faculty, staff, and student governance as well as Hartford Healthcare.” He also told the Tripod that there is no set threshold of COVID cases that drive the College’s decision making: “Primary considerations would be continued declining case counts, sustained isolation capacity and the severity of illness among those in our campus who test positive.”
While the College has heard from members of the community about the mask policy, Rojas noted that “we have yet to engage constituent groups in discussion regarding masks.” Rojas also told the Tripod that the College has not engaged with employees on the mask policy, and that he has not received any formal requests from staff about the College’s plans for masks. Furthermore, Rojas acknowledged that members of the Steering Committee continue to participate in meetings with other institutions in the NESCAC and the state of Connecticut.
Director of Greek Life Trevor Beauford reaffirmed these statements at a student town hall event on Feb. 8. He explained that Gov. Lamont’s decision only individual municipalities and companies to act according to their own preferences. “Trinity as a private institution has decided [that] because we live together, we go to class together, we eat together and we play together, it is best right now for us to maintain our mask policy indoors.”
The College instituted a mask mandate in August leading up to the start of the fall semester. In January, Rojas and Vice President for Student Success and Enrollment Management Joe DiChristina announced that the College would be requiring students to wear a surgical ASTM level 1 or KN95 mask. They cited CDC research demonstrating that the virus can be easily transmitted through cloth masks.
Gov. Lamont announced the State’s plan to lift the mask mandate and allow local school boards to decide whether to require masks on Monday, Feb. 7. The State’s mask mandate is scheduled to end on Monday, Feb. 28.
In a recent press release, Lamont noted that “Connecticut is seeing a dramatic decline in cases caused by the Omicron variant, and children over the age of 5 have had the ability to get vaccinated for more than three months now.” “With this in mind, I think we are in a good position to phase out the requirement that masks be worn in all schools statewide and shift the determination on whether to require this to the local level.” Lamont recommends that mask requirements remain in place in healthcare facilities, public and private transit, and other locations with vulnerable communities.
Other colleges and universities in Connecticut still require students to wear masks. Yale University, similarly situated in an urban environment, requires that all individuals wear masks indoors while on campus regardless of their vaccination status. Yale prohibits cloth masks and require that members of the community wear ASTM masks. In addition, the University of Connecticut requires students to wear masks while in almost all indoor spaces including classrooms, library facilities, indoor events, outdoor events, research labs, and common spaces.