AMHERST — Starting Wednesday, the University of Massachusetts Amherst will require students, faculty, staff, contractors and visitors to wear face-coverings in all indoor public spaces, including classrooms and the common areas of residence halls.
In a Monday message to the campus community, UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy said the new mask requirement is "in concert with new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, issued in response to the concerning Delta variant." It will be reviewed in mid-September, he said.
"This requirement follows review of the most recent scientific evidence that finds fully vaccinated people infected with the Delta variant can potentially spread the virus to others," Subbaswamy wrote. "Indoor mask wearing is particularly important to mitigate the spread from asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic carriers who are not aware they are infectious, and when other public health measures such as social distancing are not possible."
The school had previously said fully vaccinated individuals would not be required to wear masks, and that those who were not fully vaccinated would be "advised to wear face coverings in indoor settings and when they can't socially distance."
UMass Amherst is among the colleges requiring its students to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and Subbaswamy said Monday that 96 percent of domestic undergraduate and graduate students are in compliance so far, along with a "great majority" of international students.
The flagship UMass campus is now also requiring vaccination for faculty and staff, a move Subbaswamy said "follows agreements reached in recent days with our labor unions."
A frequently asked questions page on the new mask requirement does not speak to any penalties for not wearing a face-covering.
"If you notice someone without a face covering indoors, you can distance yourself or ask that they wear a mask," it says. "If you are a staff member, you may refer the situation to your supervisor."