The indoor mask mandate will continue through the start of the spring semester, according to an email sent on Jan. 25 by Chair of the Healthy Elon Committee Jeff Stein.

The decision stems from the high transmission of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. According to the Healthy Elon dashboard, as of Jan. 24, there are 18 current active cases among students and 32 active cases among employees. In Alamance County, there are over 13,000 cases of COVID-19, as reported by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. 

The mask mandate extension also comes as testing surges on campus. On Jan. 24, 183 tests were administered. Since Jan. 18,  Elon University has administered over 800 tests, according to the Healthy Elon Dashboard. 

The CDC confirmed that well-fitting N95 and KN95 masks provide the best protection against Omicron. Gaiters, bandanas, hoodies or masks with valves are not appropriate or adequate face coverings, according to Stein.

Prior to reinstating the mask mandate in August of 2021, the CDC had stated that it was no longer necessary for fully-vaccinated individuals to wear masks indoors in May 2021. Elon later followed this guidance by adopting the same policy in June 2021.

In August 2021, the university reinstated the mask mandate due to the number of community members traveling to campus and increased virus transmission in Alamance county. Now, the same caution is put into place with the rapid transmission of the Omicron variant.