Ninety-two percent of students and employees at Goshen College are now fully or partially vaccinated. Still, the mask mandate will remain in effect until infection rates in the Goshen area decline, the Pandemic Task Force (PTF) announced last week.

The increase in vaccination rates on campus is partly a result of additional reporting by students and employees in the past few weeks.  As of this week, only four percent of employees and five percent of students have yet to report on their status.  

“Getting to over 90 percent [for full and partial vaccinations], that is huge,” said Jodi Beyeler, vice president for communications and people strategy and a member of the PTF. 

But, she added, it will still be a few weeks before the partially vaccinated individuals in that count receive both of their doses and go through the two-week period for immunity.  

While 90 percent was the mark chosen for lifting the mask mandate on campus, the PTF decided to keep it in place because of high transmission rates in the community.  

“At the time, when we first talked about reaching 90 percent as a marker to change our mask policy, we didn’t realize yet how contagious the Delta variant is, including for vaccinated individuals,” Beyeler explained.  “The CDC recommends vaccinated people be masked when there is substantial spread in their communities.”  

Currently, only 37 percent of Elkhart County residents are vaccinated, and, while COVID-19 cases are seeing a decline, the county is still recovering from a large spike earlier this month.  

“We can do this a little longer,” said Beyeler.  “We need to watch our local community.  We are part of our community.”