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Black explains why wearing face masks on College of Medicine campus is mandatory

Dr. Kevin Black, interim dean of Penn State College of Medicine, sent the following email to staff, faculty and students on July 1.

Dear Faculty, Staff and Students,

Instead of our normal College of Medicine Pandemic Response Email this week, I wanted to take a moment to explain why everyone needs to continue wear masks.

Now that most of the COVID restrictions have been lifted in the community, and we no longer have to wear masks to restaurants or grocery stores or the theater, a lot of people have been asking why we still have to wear masks and social distance at our College of Medicine and at off-campus, college-sanctioned events.

The short answer is, it’s because our College of Medicine’s main campus is located on a health care campus, and the CDC still requires masks at health care facilities.

Our college may not be a health care facility, but we share the same rooms, halls, dining areas and library with our academic hospital. Every day – all day – physicians, staff, students, patients and their families move back and forth between our College and Hershey Medical Center. This isn’t the case at a lot of medical schools across the country, but our campus is very much a bi-directional campus, and that movement increases the risk of spreading the infection.

Our shared, integrated campus is one of the reasons we were able to offer the vaccination to our students and others in our College community so early.

I want you to know that we continue to have conversations daily with our infectious disease experts. Like you, I look forward to the day when we won’t have to wear a mask or social distance anywhere.

But for right now, for the safety of everyone who passes across our health care campus, masks are still a part of our lives – at least when we’re on our campus.

Thank you and have a great holiday weekend!

Kevin Black, MD
Interim Dean

See more College of Medicine coronavirus response updates

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