Dear Mines community,

The omicron variant of COVID-19 has proven itself to be highly contagious, even among those who are vaccinated. With positive cases at all-time highs in Colorado – exceeding even last winter’s peak – it’s vital that we all do what we can to limit transmission among our campus community.

Many colleges and universities – including a number of our neighboring schools in Colorado – have delayed the start of classes or elected to begin their spring terms remotely. At Mines, though, we made the decision to start the spring semester as scheduled – in person and on campus – in part because we knew our community would do what it takes to stay together, living, learning and working on campus.

Unfortunately, we are already experiencing some staffing shortages due to faculty and staff being exposed to COVID on campus. We need your help now to help limit further staffing issues during this surge of cases.

What can you do? In addition to getting vaccinated and staying home when sick, one of the best tools we have against COVID is wearing a tight-fitting face mask in indoor public spaces when community transmission levels are high, as they are right now.

Our campus mask policy has not changed since last semester: All Mines community members are required to wear a face mask while indoors on campus – regardless of vaccination status.

In addition to classrooms and teaching labs, masks are required at all times in:

  • Hallways and stairways
  • Building common areas, like entryways, atriums and break rooms
  • Conference and meeting rooms
  • Arthur Lakes Library and other communal study areas
  • Ben Parker Student Center
  • Mines Market and Periodic Table, when not actively eating or drinking
  • Research laboratories
  • Makerspaces
  • Shared workspaces
  • Department offices
  • Student Rec Center, unless you are swimming
  • Any other indoor places designated by signage

A handful of exceptions to the policy exist – see the full policy on the Mines Climbs Together website for more details – but in a nutshell, if you are inside a building on campus with other people, you should be wearing a face mask, regardless of vaccination status. 

Peer-reviewed scientific studies have demonstrated the value of masking as both source control and wearer protection: In one large, randomized trial in Bangladesh, the results of which were published in December 2021 in the journal Science, mask wearing was shown to measurably reduce the occurrence of COVID-19 infections in community settings.

With omicron cases soaring, now may also be a good time to consider upgrading your mask collection to higher efficiency N95 or KN95 masks, which are more readily available today than they were in the early days of the pandemic. Any mask, though, is better than no mask at all. Wear the best-fitting mask you have access to – and wear it consistently (and properly, covering both your nose and mouth) – whether that’s a surgical mask, a cloth mask, a cloth mask doubled up with a surgical mask, an N95 or KN95.

Reminder: Not following the indoor mask requirement is a violation of campus policy. Faculty members have the authority to ask students to leave the classroom if they are not following the Mines Mask Policy. Violations should be reported to the Dean of Students Office for follow-up and adjudication at

Thank you for your ongoing commitment to the health and safety of the Mines community. Nearly two years in, I know many of us – myself included – are ready for all this pandemic stuff to be over, but now is not the time to let our guard down.  And remember: You are not alone – we’re all in this together.


Derek E. Morgan, PhD

Dean of Students

Colorado School of Mines