Northeastern will ease mask mandates and other coronavirus restrictions

Student sitting on a chair outdoors
Face masks will no longer be required outdoors on Northeastern’s three campuses in Massachusetts as of Friday, provided proper distancing is maintained. Photo by Ruby Wallau/Northeastern University

Face masks will no longer be required outdoors on Northeastern’s Massachusetts campuses as of April 30 provided proper distancing is maintained, the university announced today. Masks will still be mandatory indoors as well as for big outdoor gatherings such as Commencement ceremonies and related events.

The new mask guidance is consistent with the recent decision by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ease guidelines on the wearing of masks outdoors.

The university will also ease the current COVID-19 testing cadence to once a week for fully vaccinated staff, faculty, students, and contract employees.

Northeastern students, faculty, employees, and contract employees on campuses in Boston, Burlington, and Nahant will be able to be maskless outside, whether they have been vaccinated or not, Ken Henderson, chancellor of Northeastern, said.

“Anyone who is outdoors, vaccinated or not, is no longer required to wear a face mask while they’re on our Massachusetts campuses as long as they can maintain distancing,” Henderson said.

The university will require masks for certain outdoor settings such as activities surrounding upcoming Commencement celebrations. Graduating students will hold a ceremonial procession from the Boston campus to nearby Fenway Park, Henderson said.

He said everyone on campus should continue to do their part to promote and encourage safety, including hand sanitizing and testing for SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

“Each individual should continue to exercise personal responsibility and good judgment,” Henderson says.

Northeastern will also ease outdoor mask restrictions throughout its global network of campuses in line with the guidance of local health authorities. Washington, North Carolina, and Maine do not require face coverings outdoors as long as people maintain proper distance from each other, Henderson says. California is currently reviewing its guidance on masks, while British Columbia, London, and Ontario do not require outdoor mask-wearing.

The cadence of coronavirus testing on Northeastern’s campuses will also change. Starting Monday, May 3, faculty, staff, and students who attest to being fully vaccinated will take a nasal swab test every seven days, instead of every three days for students and every four days for faculty, staff, and contract employees.

Beginning on Monday, May 3, members of the Northeastern community are encouraged to visit to access the Self-Report Vaccination form. Submitting the form will allow people to switch to a testing cadence of once every seven days if marked “Primarily In-Person” in the COVID-19 Test Scheduler.

Students will be required to be fully vaccinated before the start of the fall term unless they have a medical or religious exemption. The requirement for documentation of inoculations will come through a separate process that the university will announce in the coming days.


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