Additional end-of-semester COVID precautions

May 6, 2022

Dear Undergraduates:

You have a lot on your plates as the academic year comes to a close—exams, class events, and, for our seniors, Commencement. We know that the last thing you want is for COVID to interrupt those plans and, in that spirit, we are both enacting a few additional precautions and encouraging you to wear a mask in group settings.

We have seen a significant increase in COVID cases among undergraduates since last weekend, with a large proportion traced to a concert that took place on Saturday night. The event was in full compliance with our current COVID rules, but it is a reminder that even in a population with universal vaccination such as ours, the virus can still spread.

We are taking the following steps through Commencement (May 22) to reduce the spread of COVID on campus:

  • Undergraduates will now be required to test twice a week at our asymptomatic testing sites.
  • Masks will now be required in the libraries and study areas, such as Brody Learning Commons, given increased use during finals.
  • Family and other guests helping students move out of university residence halls will also be required to mask.
  • Masks will be required at indoor events of more than 50 people.

Because it will take place outdoors, where the risk of COVID transmission is low, we are not considering changes to our plans for the universitywide Commencement ceremony.

As you know, the use of a high-quality mask is very effective in preventing the spread of COVID, as well as the flu, and so we encourage you to wear a mask in group settings. And although at-home tests do not take the place of asymptomatic testing, they are another effective tool to ensure that you don’t inadvertently put others at risk. Masks and home tests that meet JHU’s standards are available at all asymptomatic testing sites and the Student Housing office. A simple bit of prevention can keep your end-of-semester plans on track. If you test positive on a home antigen test, please report the result here.

Many of the students who have recently tested positive are experiencing symptoms, though fortunately they have generally not become seriously ill. But even if symptoms are mild, contracting COVID presents a major disruption based on the need to isolate for at least five days, and although we will be communicating with faculty to help make sure that students forced to isolate have the opportunity to complete their exams, we also know that any disruptions can be particularly impactful at this point in the semester.

We thank you again for all you have done this year to prevent the spread of COVID on campus and in the surrounding community. Your efforts have helped allow classes and activities to continue uninterrupted. Let’s keep it up through the end of the semester.

Stephen Gange
Professor and Executive Vice Provost for Academic Affairs

Jon Links
Professor, Vice Provost, and Chief Risk Officer

Kevin Shollenberger
Vice Provost for Student Health and Well-Being

Rachelle Hernandez
Vice Provost for Student Affairs