At least three Massachusetts colleges are choosing to enforce mask mandates "indefinitely" and a fourth is considering the measure, according to the New York Post.
Mount Holyoke College, Smith College and Hampshire College have each announced the policy, despite some having prior plans to drop the mandates. Enforced mask mandates have largely disappeared across the country as the COVID-19 pandemic has waned.
"I am sorry to say that because of the relatively high confirmed COVID-19 case counts on campus (approximately 50 per week since the start of the semester), we will need to continue our indoor mask mandate until further notice," Mt. Holyoke president Beverly Daniel Tatum wrote in a letter to the student body last month.
"While I am eager to move us from a mask mandate to a "masks welcome and encouraged" policy in all campus indoor spaces, it is clear that the current levels of infection have taxed our campus health care system and residential services to the limit," she continued.
Meanwhile, Amherst College has adopted a classroom-by-classroom strategy, requiring professors to poll their students on whether masks should be required at the beginning of the semester, according to the Post. If any one person responds that they would prefer masking, the entire class will be required to mask up.
The Massachusetts colleges join some of America's most elite institutions in imposing the mandates. George Washington University, Georgetown University, New York University, Rutgers University and San Diego State University also enforce mask mandates or "strongly recommend" wearing masks indoors.
Dr. Marc Siegel, Fox News medical analyst and professor of medicine at New York University Langone Medical Center, has argued there is little evidence that masking prevents the spread of COVID-19.
"It's not been proven scientifically how much benefit you get out of the mask," Siegel told Fox News Digital last month. "The universities have a right, but I question the harm and the public health value of actually doing them."
"I don't think it's been shown that mask mandates work anywhere, and the word ‘mandate’ causes psychological harm. And then it leads to virtue signaling where people have a mask on, but they're not wearing it properly," he continued.