Photo: Macy Dowla/The Towerlight
By: Caitlyn Freeman, Editor in Chief
Ahead of the fall semester, Towson University will continue to be a mask-optional campus despite the uptick in COVID–19 cases statewide, the university announced Friday.
The decision aligns with the guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding the virus. The university first lifted the masking requirements in March.
“TU will continue to monitor the presence of COVID-19 within our community, consult with local, state and USM medical and public health experts, and confer with TU Medical Advisory Committee and shared governance,” a campus-wide email reads. “Our community remains highly vaccinated, and in alignment with guidance from health officials, remains a mask-optional campus.”
The Maryland Department of Health reported 1,526 new cases and six deaths on Friday. The current statewide positivity rate is 11.39%.
Baltimore County currently falls under a medium community level for the virus, according to the CDC. As a result, masking is encouraged for those who are at a higher risk of severe infection.
Those symptomatic, exposed to or have a confirmed positive case of COVID should fill out the Tigers Care QuickScan, the university said. Symptomatic individuals should get tested either through the University Health Center or their private provider. The testing center at the West Village Parking Garage is closed but can reopen if needed.
Further, rather than isolating, the university said those exposed to COVID should wear a face mask for 10 days and test on day five. The university has on-campus quarantine space for residential students who cannot isolate at home.
Aside from COVID, as the number of cases from the current Monkeypox outbreak increases nationwide, the university said they’re working closely with Baltimore County to monitor the virus.
“The current risk of contracting monkeypox is low, as it is spread through close, intimate contact,” the email reads. “However, as the disease continues to be present in surrounding communities, it is likely we will experience cases in our community.”
As of Aug. 18, the CDC reports 14,115 confirmed Monkeypox cases nationwide, with 349 of those reported in Maryland. Additionally, the University of Maryland saw its first presumptive case of Monkeypox in a staff member on Wednesday, NBC4 reports.
This story may be updated