Week 102: New Masking Guidelines and How these Effect Countway

As of Monday, March 7th, mask wearing is no longer required at Countway Library. Of course, if you would like to continue to wear a mask, you absolutely can. Per the Dean’s message, masks are now optional in HMS and HSDM buildings. However, masks will still be required in health care facilities, including HSDM clinical facilities; public transit; University and MASCO buses and shuttles, and large indoor gatherings and events, including classes, that exceed 250 persons. Those completing isolation or quarantine are also required to wear masks. Individual faculty may require masking in classrooms even if masks are not required in classrooms by the School. Eating/drinking are now permissible in spaces approved for such pre-COVID, and during gatherings. The Harvard Chan School of Public Health and the Harvard Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences are maintaining their masking requirements until March 14th.

What does this mean for Countway?

  • All-staff, Town Hall, and departmental meetings can be held in-person without mask wearing; of course, you may wear a mask if you feel more comfortable doing so
  • Lite refreshments will be available at future all-staff meetings
  • Signage in the library will be changed to reflect optional mask wearing
  • We will return to allowing students to drink from closed containers. Food is still restricted to the Café area only.
  • Serving as Countway Library Safety Ambassadors, our LHTs have played a valuable role in enforcing the mask mandate throughout the building. Their role will now transition to building greeter/concierge service. In addition,, they will be helping with the BML move (i.e., overseeing packing of boxes, flagging items to be moved, blue dots, shifting the collections from L1 to L2, etc.).

While I look forward to loosening the restrictions at Countway, I realize some staff and library users may not welcome these changes. It is important to recognize this is an ever-changing environment and if cases increase or another variant emerges, restrictions may be reinstated. The library is prepared to reinstate any guideline or protocol if required.

However, for now, I hope you join me in reflecting and celebrating the evolution of Countway over the past two years. A lot has happened: completion of the renovation project, transitioning from remote work to a hybrid schedule, re-opening the library to users, increasing restrictions, loosing restrictions, etc. I want to thank all of you for your patience and continuous efforts in making Countway a safe and integral part of the Longwood Medical Area Community. Your hard work and cooperation the past two years certainly does not go unnoticed. Lastly, while these masking changes might be welcome for some, others may feel resistance or concern. We respect any decision you make regarding wearing or not wearing a mask. Do what makes you feel comfortable.

Finally, do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions. Personally, I am looking forward to the warmer months spent inside the Countway building and outside in our Community Garden, without having to wear a mask!