STU returns to in-person classes on Feb. 7, increased mask restrictions

    The entrance to George Martin Hall at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, N.B. is seen in this archive photo from Sept. 11, 2020. (Aaron Sousa/AQ)

    Two days earlier than planned, New Brunswick will move from Level 3 to Level 2 of the COVID-19 Winter Action Plan on Friday at 11:59 p.m.

    St. Thomas University announced Thursday around 4:40 p.m. that campus offices will open on Jan. 31 and in-person classes will begin on Feb. 7. 

    Cases spiked last week but have since “steadily declined,” according to Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health, during Thursday afternoon’s press briefing. There are 141 hospitalizations and eight in critical condition. As of Wednesday, more than 40 per cent of eligible New Brunswickers are fully vaccinated including booster shots. 

    In an email to students, STU president Dawn Russell said the university is updating its mask policy. It now recommends non-ventilated KN95, N95 or surgical masks. Cloth face masks are also allowed if they are two or three layers with a filter. A two-layer cloth mask with no filter may be worn combined with a disposable mask. 

    The university was in contact with the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour, along with public health and other universities, this week about proper health and safety guidelines for its return to campus. 

    Russell also encouraged students and staff to book their vaccination booster. 

    With a milder though more transmissible variant, our campus measures related to vaccination, masking and distancing are as important as ever to maintain a low-risk environment,” she wrote.

    More to come…