Dear Northeastern Community:  


In an effort to provide regular updates to the Northeastern community, we are writing with some continued guidance on how the university is approaching the month of January and the Spring 2022 term. As stated in our December 23 message, the university is planning for fully in-person learning and research on its U.S. campuses. Our reasoning remains the same: We believe that we can provide superior learning opportunities—and produce the best research—when our campuses are fully open. And we have taken extraordinary steps to maximize the health and wellbeing of our community.  


Here are some updates on specific topics that members of the Northeastern community have raised:  


Flexibility: Remaining open for in-person teaching and research should not be interpreted as a lack of flexibility for our faculty and staff. We realize that even in a community that is fully vaccinated and boosted, the effects of the pandemic will still cause significant disruptions to daily life. Many daycare centers and K-12 schools have been forced to make abrupt closures, which puts additional strain on parents and other caregivers. Some of us will have to care for family members who test positive and need help. We are well aware of these challenges.  


When issues arise that require flexibility and support, we encourage you to engage with a supervisor or department chair/associate dean as appropriate. Human Resources also stands ready as a university-wide resource to assist you. Our overarching goal is to provide reasonable flexibility, while ensuring continuity of our learning and research mission. 


Masks: The infectiousness of the Omicron variant has renewed discussions about masks, particularly which masks are most effective at preventing transmission of the virus. The CDC’s guidance is a good starting point, but there are additional details worth considering as we gain greater information over the duration of the pandemic. Many experts, including those on the Northeastern faculty, believe that the most important issue is the “fit” of your mask. A mask that is ill-fitting—even an N95—does not offer sufficient protection to the wearer or those in close proximity.  


For this reason, surgical masks (also known as disposable masks) are a good choice because they are easy fitting and not porous in the way many cloth masks are. Double masking is good practice and highly recommended. Recent research shows that an N95 mask, if fitted properly, reduces the spread of air particles and aerosol better than other options. It is very important—no matter what type of mask you choose—that all members of the community remain vigilant and adhere to all mask requirements on our campuses.  


For further information about Northeastern’s COVID-19 protocols, you can find additional information in the Spring 2022 FAQs or by emailing


We hope this latest update is helpful. As we have throughout the pandemic, we will continue to provide information—and be prepared to adjust course—in real time. Thank you, once again, for all that you are doing to advance the university’s mission, while keeping our community healthy and safe.  



David Madigan
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Ken Henderson
Chancellor and Senior Vice President for Learning