Keene State College plans on repeating its masking trend from the fall of 2022. Cases began to rise right at the start of the fall 2022 semester, according to Jeanelle Boyer, co-chair of the COVID-19 leadership team and professor of public health. However, patterns have shown that around the fourth week, cases tended to go down and balance out.
This semester should not be an exception to these patterns. KSC has been collecting and examining data from the school and the region, and have found that during the first few weeks of the semester is when COVID-19 numbers peak.
Referencing fall of 2022, “What we saw was a nice peak in that first several weeks of class and then it came down and it stayed pretty low until the very end of the semester when it began to tick up again slowly,” said Boyer.
Boyer added, “I think we did just fine last semester, so given where we were at in terms of how serious the virus is, how much immunity was around, I think it was fine to not have masks and I’m anticipating the same thing for this semester.”
According to Boyer, during the semesters where masks were required in the classroom for the full semester, similar patterns were found. For the first few weeks of class, cases went up and then back down. Comparatively, the beginning of the spring 2022 semester saw hundreds of cases being reported each week when students returned. Those cases went down eventually, as well.
As the spring semester of 2023 takes off, according to the school’s COVID-19 trigger point matrix COVID-19 data, there have only been six reported cases going into the semester as of Jan. 17. The sheet is updated each week and can be found under COVID-19 info on the health and wellness section of the MyKSC website.
In addition to the COVID-19 data, KSC President Melinda Treadwell stated that there were 12 known cases on campus last week.
Boyer said many different variables, such as masking, can determine the amount and the rate of the cases. The amount of immunity the population has and the variant of the virus are also considered. She noted that as the population gets exposed and immunity builds, the cases tend to go down.
Although, with COVID-19, “there is no crystal ball,” said Boyer regarding the projections for the number of cases of COVID-19 so far this semester.
Similarly, Treadwell said, “This past semester we didn’t get the peak continuing to escalate when we put masks on for 14 days. It slowed the transmission enough for us to then get in our bubble and this semester, so far this first week shows me, I think, we’re going to be just fine.”
According to Treadwell, schools around KSC saw higher rates of cases.
Treadwell said that having a completely maskless semester for fall 2023 could be a possibility, adding, “Masks are going to be a very last resort… I don’t want us to mask.”
Timothy Bruns can be contacted at