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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

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Confused about new masking rules? You asked. We got answers.

Elisa Carrasco Lanusse

Update: the masking policies listed in this article have been temporarily halted in response to a rise of COVID-19 cases in Poweshiek County and on the Grinnell College campus. Read about the updated mask policies here.

On Thursday, Nov. 4, Grinnell College announced changes in on-campus masking protocols. The new guidelines went into effect Nov. 8, but students at the College still have questions about when and where they should be wearing masks.

Grinnell’s administration decided to make these changes based on recommendations from the University of Iowa. The College’s 99 percent student vaccination rate makes occasional unmasking safe, said College President Anne Harris, and limits on the size of unmasked groups will help facilitate any contract tracing needs.

With the weather getting colder, the College has decided to balance COVID-19 safety with the increasing need for indoor spaces for students to eat and be unmasked.

The S&B polled students on our Instagram for any questions they have on what is and is not allowed under new protocols. Heather Cox, director of emergency management and risk mitigation for the College, gave these responses to the most commonly asked questions:

The S&B: Do students need to wear masks in hallways?  

Heather Cox: Yes, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Although interactions are brief, the number of people and mix of campus community and visitors present at any given time can vary. Masks are very effective at limiting the spread of not only COVID-19 but also influenza and other respiratory illnesses, which are currently on the rise in Iowa.

If a student is in a communal study space (e.g. the HSSC or Burling), does a group of 15 mean who they are sitting with or the entire space? What counts as a space (e.g. the isolated study spots in the HSSC)?  

Regardless of the space size or purpose, masks are required if there are more than 15 people present. For example, because there are likely to be more than 15 people in the HSSC atrium at any one time, a mask should be worn in the HSSC atrium even while seated.

Does the South Loggia count as indoors or outdoors?  


Where are students allowed to eat on campus now?  

Students may eat together in campus spaces including academic buildings, except in classrooms, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. This would include small study spaces in [the] HSSC, Noyce, etc. Masks should be worn when not actively eating if there are more than 15 people.

In what situations can a student request that another wears a mask?  

In any situation, students, faculty and staff may ask others around them to wear a mask. In line with the T.H.R.I.V.E. principles, campus community members are encouraged to be responsive to the needs of others and support such requests.

What qualifies as a mandatory event? Is a club meeting a mandatory event? Are office hours mandatory events?  

Mandatory events are those where participation affects grades or employment.  If you are unsure if the event is mandatory or not, please check with the event organizer.  Meeting leaders/organizers are encouraged to provide a virtual option when possible. Anyone attending a meeting/event may wear a mask.

If a student is in a room in an academic building in a group of less than 15 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on a weekday, but they are not there for a class, do they need to wear a mask?

Yes, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.

At what point will the College reevaluate protocols again?  

The Activity Level Review group and campus leadership continually evaluate local and campus conditions, consult with our advisors with the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and meet weekly to assess any changes in protocols.

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About the Contributor
Eleanor Corbin
Eleanor Corbin, Editor in Chief
Eleanor is a fourth-year political science major with a concentration in statistics. Nine out of ten times she is ready and willing to discuss embroidery, types of loose-leaf tea, and metal music. Best approached with her favorite candy, cherry Twizzler bites, in hand.
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