Dear Colleagues,

Effective Monday, March 14, masks will be optional for staff in all MBL campus spaces including research laboratories, office settings, dormitories, and dining spaces. Masks will continue to be required in instructional settings (e.g., classrooms, teaching labs), while educational content is being delivered in other spaces (e.g., MRC tours), and at any event open to the public (e.g., Falmouth Forums).

 This change in policy, made in consultation with the University of Chicago, takes into account new relaxed CDC mask guidance which shifts focus to hospitalizations—rather than infections alone—to determine when masks are recommended. Under this CDC measure Barnstable County (and indeed much of Massachusetts) is an area of low COVID-19 transmission.

Any individual who wishes to continue to mask will be fully supported in that choice. Especially during this time of transition, we ask that everyone be courteous and respectful to each other.

The MBL will continue to modify indoor mask policies over the coming weeks to reflect the changing environment. This will be a phased implementation. Guidance for Advanced Research Training Courses, Whitman and Grass labs, and future public events will be provided in the coming weeks. Any future changes to masking policy will consider the constant flux of U.S. and international investigators, faculty, and students onto our campus and the unique challenge and different risk level that influx presents relative to other institutions.

Please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions that addresses many details of this policy.  A few key points:

  • Individuals who are unvaccinated or not up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations are strongly encouraged to wear face coverings while in MBL buildings, with limited exceptions as detailed in the FAQ, and will be required to participate in the MBL’s Testing Program.
  • Individuals who would like to request accommodations related to masking requirements or COVID-19 may do so by contacting Human Resources at
  • Masking is still required for individuals after a positive test or exposure. See the MBL’s exposure protocol for more information about wearing a mask in these instances.

We are thankful for the community-minded spirit our employees have maintained throughout the pandemic and appreciate your continued care when it comes to COVID-19 precautions, including:

  • Monitoring for potential COVID-19 symptoms
  • Staying home and getting tested if you are ill
  • Reporting any positive cases to your supervisor and Human Resources  

Thank you for your attention to these important details. Updates will be reflected in the masking information on the MBLForward website.

Nipam H. Patel, DirectorPaul Speer, Chief Operating Officer