WASHINGTON, N.C. — In light of the recent surge in cases of the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus, Beaufort County Community College is instituting the mandatory wearing of face masks by all students, faculty, and staff as of Monday (Aug. 9), including individuals who are fully vaccinated.
This decision coincides with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendation that all individuals—including fully vaccinated individuals—wear masks indoors in areas with “substantial or high transmission” rates. Currently, Beaufort, Hyde, and Washington Counties are experiencing “substantial” transmission, while Tyrrell County is experiencing a “high” rate of COVID-19 transmission.
This mandate will not apply to individuals when they are alone in their offices or workspaces, nor will it apply outdoors. The college is not reinstating social distancing but will maintain its ongoing disinfection of all spaces on campus.
According to the most recent data from the CDC, individuals who are fully vaccinated are 99.9 percent protected from hospitalization resulting from COVID-19, even if they contract the Delta variant. With the advent of the Delta variant, more than 95 percent of headcount hospitalizations and deaths have occurred in the unvaccinated population.
While the College will not be asking students, faculty, or staff to disclose their vaccination status, it encourages vaccination as students will be in close proximity with other students who travel between high schools, workplaces, and homes with varying safety protocols. Free vaccines are readily available at local drug stores and at each county health department. Classes start on August 16, and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that is available for ages 12 and up requires a second dose after 21 days or three weeks for full efficacy.
Broad vaccination among eligible individuals will also help protect individuals who cannot get vaccinated such as children under 12 and people with medical complications.
BCCC believes that the best way to serve its students is through in-person courses. Returning to an all-virtual environment is not effective for teaching and learning, especially when there is a vaccine available that will prevent serious illness. Therefore, the college will move forward with in-person classes without social distancing, trusting to vaccines and masks to slow transmission of the virus.
Sites in Washington and Tyrrell Counties are offering $100 gift cards for first-time vaccinations at upcoming events in August. See a full list of sites offering vaccination incentives here.