HOLLAND, Mich. — Hope College will require masks for everyone indoors, regardless of vaccination status.
It’s due to the Aug. 13 announcement by the Ottawa County Department of Public Health that the county’s COVID-19 transmission rate is now in the high-risk category, college officials said Wednesday.
Exceptions to the policy are when individuals are in their living space on campus or alone in their work space.
The college plans to reassess the mask policy on Sept. 14 based on transmission rates and campus wastewater and surveillance testing.
“We recognize that none of us want to wear masks again,” the college’s Campus Health Advisory Team said in a message to students and their families on Aug. 19. “Yet we also recognize that doing so is for the health and safety of ALL faculty, staff and students at our college. We can do this together because it allows us to still be together. Thank you for partnering with us in this endeavor.”
Hope College continues to “strongly encourage” members of the campus community to get vaccinated and is also seeking individuals’ vaccination statuses to inform planning.
As of Aug. 19, 81.4% of enrolled students were fully vaccinated or planned to be fully vaccinated early in the semester, and more than 81% of faculty and staff had reported being fully vaccinated, according to Hope College.
That compares to Ottawa County’s vaccination initiation rate – which is one or more doses of any COVID-19 vaccine – for those 12 and older of 61.56% and the state’s 59.8%.
Similar to the 2020-21 academic year, Hope College will monitor campus wastewater for the coronavirus.
The college also continues to have a quarantine and isolation process, as well as safeguards for those who are not vaccinated – including pre-arrival testing and surveillance testing.
Fall semester classes for the college’s 160th academic year begin Tuesday, Aug. 31.