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COVID-19 Task Force Community Update for January 2023

January 11, 2023

All Employees and Students,

While we’re excited to be returning to campus for the spring 2023 semester, it’s important to remember that COVID-19 is still with us. The newest Covid-19 variant, XBB.1.5, has been quickly spreading in the Northeast.  It now accounts for more than 50 percent of all COVID-19 cases.  The XBB.1.5 variant has proven to be more transmissible and adept at evading the immunity that comes from vaccines and infections. 

Although the XBB.1.5 variant does not appear to cause more severe illness or death as previous variants, experts are urging people to get their booster shots. The bivalent booster vaccine works against the Omicron variant, as well as the original form of the virus, and appears to be especially effective against XBB.1.5 

Currently, the FDA has approved two bivalent (dual strain) vaccines offering a higher level of protection against current COVID variants.  If you have not received the bivalent booster, we strongly recommend receiving the vaccine as soon as possible. Information on bivalent vaccines and boosters can be found here.  Vaccination locations are available here.

For the spring semester, The COVID Task Force has made some minor updates to the Bay Path University COVID-19 protocols following the recommendation of the most recent CDC, DPH and medical best practices procedures. These recommendations are not new, but they are particularly important to the health and safety of our community.

Masking Remains Optional but is Strongly Recommended

Masking is not required on Bay Path University campuses.  Those who choose to mask are welcome to do so.  Currently, the CDC reports that the Hampden County Community Risk Level is rated at “Medium,” meaning that “if you are at high risk of getting sick, wear a high-quality mask or respirator (e.g., N95) when indoors in public.”  Considering the current risk level, we strongly encourage voluntary masking in all settings in an effort to reduce the risk of transmission.

In the event that the risk level is elevated to “High” the COVID Task force is prepared to require the donning of masks in all indoor group settings. Masking, vaccinations, and frequent washing of your hands is the best way to keep you and our community safe. 

As a reminder, if you are exposed to COVID-19, the CDC recommends that you immediately wear a mask for a full 10 days.  Please refer to the CDC guidance for additional information.

We also ask you to be mindful of other members of our community who must mask. Nobody should be made to feel uncomfortable for their personal masking decision in a mask-optional setting.  Masks will continue to be required when:

  • In Health Services
  • Riding on the University shuttle
  • Exposed to COVID-19 (on or off campus)
  • Testing positive for COVID-19


Testing is optional.  Testing continues to remain important in preventing the spread of infection and is recommended when circumstances warrant. Test results can inform your behaviors as you consider joining in-person classes, attending events or traveling.

Rapid antigen tests are available, free of charge, Monday to Friday from 9:00 AM-5:00 PM in Health Services, Hatch Library, and Student Life.  They are also available at the Ryan Center by calling Helen Gentile at 413-565-1059.

Color Health/Broad PCR tests will remain available. Test kits are available for pick-up, Monday to Friday, in Health Services, Student Life, Hatch Library, or at the Ryan Center by calling Helen Gentile at 413-565-1059.  The drop box is located in the Blake Student center foyer. The courier will pick up your sample on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  You will receive a notice of your results via an email from COLOR Health on the following day.

Did You Test Positive?

If you (students) have tested positive using Color Health, a rapid test or outside testing program, you should seek guidance by clicking here. Students who test positive outside of the Color program should report their results on MEDICAT and notify Health Services at  

If you (employees) have tested positive using Color Health, a rapid test or outside testing program, you should seek guidance by clicking here. You are also required to notify Interim HR Director Ashley Pereira at

NOTE: As of December 15, 2022, households can order four rapid COVID-19 tests for free through the United States Postal Service. This is a one-time/limited-time option. 

Maintaining Vaccination Compliance

Proof of the primary series consisting of COVID-19 vaccinations and one booster will continue to be required for all new students and employees unless a medical or religious waiver has been approved. 

The COVID-19 Task Force will continue to monitor state and local data to guide future COVID-19 health decisions. If warranted, we are prepared to implement more extensive protections to safeguard the health and safety of our community. Please review our FAQ’s. This list is not all-inclusive and will be updated as the situation evolves.  Meanwhile, individual action remains critical for personal protection. Wearing a mask and washing hands regularly remains the most effective ways to reduce the risk of contracting pathogens like COVID-19. 

Thank you again for your commitment to protecting our community.

The COVID-19 Task Force