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COVID-19 Task Force Community Update for January 2024

January 11, 2024

All Employees and Students,

While we're excited to resume on-campus activities for the spring 2024 semester, it's vital to remain vigilant about COVID-19.  According to health professionals, infection rates have been increasing since November and will peak by the end of January. Experts strongly advise individuals who haven't received the latest COVID-19 vaccine to do so, as it has proven more effective in reducing severe illness or fatalities.

It's also not too late to have a flu shot. The peak flu season spans December to February.  Flu vaccines are easily accessible at local pharmacies, supermarkets, or doctor's offices. Additionally, other respiratory infections, such as RSV, are on the rise and often present more challenging symptoms than COVID-19 or the flu. These respiratory viruses have symptoms akin to flu infections and the common cold but are particularly severe for young children and older adults.

As we prepare for the spring semester, the COVID-19 Task Force is providing essential guidance and recommendations to maintain personal and collective health over the next two months.

Masking Remains Optional 

Masking is optional on all Bay Path University campuses. In case of exposure to COVID-19, the CDC advises wearing a mask immediately upon learning about the exposure and continuing to do so for a full 10-day period. Please refer to the CDC guidance for additional information.

 Masks will continue to be required when:

  • Experiencing symptoms (including but not limited to cough, fever, headache, and flu-like symptoms)
  • Exposed to COVID-19
  • Testing positive for COVID-19 and subject to COVID-19 protocols

Wearing a mask and washing hands regularly remains one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of contracting pathogens like COVID-19.


Testing continues to remain important in preventing the spread of infection and is recommended when circumstances warrant. Plenty of people exposed to COVID-19 might not experience any symptoms and should test if they are concerned about exposure and worried about getting others sick. Test results can guide decisions about in-person activities, including attending class, participating in events, or traveling.

The University will no longer provide free rapid antigen tests to employees or to students who are asymptomatic.  We will continue to support students with symptoms through Health Services.  Tests are available for purchase at your local pharmacies, or households can order a total of eight rapid Covid-19 tests for free through the United States Postal Service

Students-Are you experiencing symptoms?  

Students, undergraduate and graduate, who are experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms are encouraged to seek assistance from Health Services for a free rapid test and medical advice.  

Health Services is open Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.  If you are experiencing symptoms after hours, at night, or on weekends, you should isolate yourself and wear a mask when around others.  For those who seek immediate assistance, please call 911, campus public safety 413-565-1255, or visit the local urgent care facility located at 21 Dwight Road, Longmeadow, MA, Suite 104.  The hours are Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.  

If you test positive for COVID-19, it is strongly recommended that you isolate at the home of a family member or friend. However, if you are a resident student and choose to isolate on campus, please refer to the resident student isolation and food pick up guidelines attached.

Before You Return to Campus

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other pathogens, here are some recommendations to consider:

  1. If you begin to experience COVID-19 symptoms, it’s advisable to refrain from returning to campus.
  2. If symptomatic, take a rapid/antigen test, and wear a mask around others. 
  3. Upon testing positive, adhere to isolation guidance provided by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and avoid returning to campus while in isolation.
  4. Consider taking a precautionary test before coming back to campus, even if you're not displaying symptoms.
  5. Ensure that you are up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccines and the annual flu shot.  
  6. Remember to maintain regular hand hygiene and consider wearing high quality masks, especially in crowded Bay Path community indoor settings to minimize risks.

As always, it is vital that members of the Bay Path community keep the University’s Core Values at the forefront.  Nobody should be made to feel uncomfortable for their personal masking decision in a mask-optional setting. Be mindful that there are members of our community who must mask. A person’s COVID-19 status is considered private information, therefore please refrain from engaging in speculative discussion in an effort to reduce harm and the potential spread of misinformation. 

The COVID-19 Task Force wishes you a productive, safe, and healthy spring semester.

The COVID-19 Task Force