ALL TOGETHER: Live Learn Work

Monitoring Our Campus Status

To determine the current status of our College operations, many factors are monitored simultaneously, including positive cases across our community, the capacity of our quarantine and isolation space, regional trends, state and local mandates, and others. Our response team meets daily at 8 a.m. to analyze all of this information, then makes decisions about any changes to our academic and operational plans.

Dashboard Screening Testing

Visitor Policies for Saint Mary's College 

On September 3, visitor guidelines at Saint Mary’s reverted to those established at the beginning of the semester, following a two-week period of tighter restrictions. Saint Mary’s expects all community members to continue to make smart and thoughtful decisions, taking into consideration the health and safety of the entire community, and the desire of students, faculty, and staff to complete the fall semester on campus. For details on the guidelines, visit the Living on Campus page by clicking here

Check Up, Mask Up, Back Up, Wash Up

For our fall semester, we’re coming together safely — with masks on — prepared to handle this new dynamic. We’ve adopted these four core guidelines as a mantra that will shape our return and give us a measure of personal freedom to be in each other’s company and our students can safely enjoy their college experience.


Check Up

Check Up

Students, faculty, and staff must record their health status before reporting to class or to work.

Mask Up

Mask Up

Everyone is required to wear a mask while indoors, and outdoors when physical distancing is not possible.

Back Up

Back Up

It's important to maintain safe physical distancing of at least six (6) feet from others both indoors and outdoors.

Wash Up

Wash Up

Hand sanitizer stations located throughout campus should be used when a sink and soap is not available.

Preparing for Positive Cases on Campus

At Saint Mary’s, we work diligently to limit our community’s exposure to the COVID-19 virus, even when positive cases are part of our daily campus operations. To mitigate widespread exposure, we have enacted several important features to keep our community safe:

  • Creating a dedicated on-campus space for residential students to recover, receive care, and actively participate in their academic classes if they are able
  • Establishing a COVID-19 sterilizing/sanitation team to thoroughly and routinely deep-clean all public spaces
  • Employing a robust contact tracing tool to identify those who may have been exposed

When a residential student tests positive for, or is verifiably exposed to COVID-19, she is assigned to the isolation/quarantine area on campus, located in Regina Hall South. Read more about the Saint Mary’s process for Isolation and Quarantine here.

Prospective students are welcome to visit campus this fall. Please see the Visit Campus page for further details.

The plans for Fall 2020 outlined by Saint Mary’s College are dependent upon local, state, and national health and wellness guidelines, and can change according to the current state of COVID-19. We encourage you to watch for further updates via email communications and on this website.

The Avenue

Fall 2020 FAQs

Information for Students and Parents

+Once the semester begins, and I believe I have been exposed to COVID, what is the process for requesting a test, and reporting the results?

If a student exhibits symptoms or is notified that they have been exposed, they will be directed to stay in their residence and contact the Health and Counseling Center, who will triage via a telehealth consultation. If the Health and Counseling Center determines the student needs to be tested, an in-person visit for the test will be arranged. Please note: The Health and Counseling Center has a separate COVID testing waiting area and treatment room. Students who need to be tested should not make their way to the Health and Counseling Center until directed by a member of the Health and Counseling Center team.

+Are we testing everyone in quarantine?

At this point, we are only testing those who are exhibiting symptoms, however, we are moving toward testing students while they are in quarantine. Though the CDC is now recommending only testing those who are symptomatic, we believe it is necessary to do more. In fact our local health department does not agree with this recommendation. We feel strongly about the need for more rigorous testing.

+What happens when quarantine space for students is full?

There are nearby hotels interested in housing our students as a fall-back. We have 102 beds on campus, which so far has been more than adequate for our needs.

+Who will decide if we go entirely online? What are the metrics?

There is no single metric that is robust enough to be used to adequately predict the trajectory of the virus. It is not a tidy “if/then” algorithm. There are actually multiple variables monitored by our response team. Each variable has the capacity to shift daily and requires careful analysis to determine if one or another is becoming a stressor for any particular segment of our campus. Are we filling our quarantine and isolation space too quickly? Is there an outbreak in a particular residence hall? How ably is our campus dining, faculty, housekeeping and other operations meeting daily needs? What does the region’s testing and positive case data look like? Each day, the response team analyzes these factors and others to determine the appropriate mitigation strategy. Our belief is that our response should not be an all-or-none situation.

+If we have to change the education delivery method, will students be sent home?

Just as there is more than one variable that we assess each day, there are also multiple mitigation strategies that can be employed before fully sending students home to complete the semester. For example, we could move to online classes while remaining in residence. Or we could temporarily close one residence hall if the infection seems to be impacting a single location. The only way we would immediately be forced to send students home is if the state (or federal) government mandates a shut-down.

+If Notre Dame or Holy Cross decides to shut down, will Saint Mary’s automatically do the same?

We have talked with ND and Holy Cross and have all agreed that any major change will include a conversation with each other to ensure we are aware of the other’s decision, and what impacts it would have on the tri-campus students. Having said that, Saint Mary’s is independent from our tri-campus partner institutions. Any decision to change our operation is ours to make.

+What protocols are taken to ensure the safety of those in residence halls?

Following CDC recommendations, we have increased cleaning of high touch and public areas, mandating students to wear masks in all public spaces, not permitting non-essential outside visitors, modifying use of community kitchens, and increasing educational training for all members of the Saint Mary’s Community.

+Can my girlfriends, sisters and mom spend the night in my room?

No guests, including family members, students from Notre Dame and Holy Cross, or Saint Mary’s students who are living off campus, are allowed in private residence hall spaces. Each residence hall has a designated lobby where guests may wait, but they must wear a mask at all times. Saint Mary’s students living on campus are allowed to visit one another in their residence halls, but must wear a mask at all times.

+Why was the decision made to not allow Opus students the chance to cook their own meals? Students have expressed concern over the surprise extra financial burden and the increased risk by more visits to the dining hall.

In an effort to reduce the extent to which students leave campus and expose themselves (and, by extension, the rest of the community) to public off-campus venues, the College will be requiring full meal plans for all students living on campus for the 2020-2021 academic year. In an effort to offset some of the concerns for our seniors, Saint Mary’s has enhanced the Flex Point Program, created a meal exclusive for seniors called the Belles at Home option, and reduced the room rates in Opus Hall. Each senior received an email on June 11 outlining these features in greater detail.

+I have additional questions that are not answered here. Who should I contact?

Please contact Cyndie Horton-Cavanaugh in the Health and Counseling Center at  if you have additional questions or concerns not raised in this list.

Information for Faculty and Staff

+Are faculty and staff required to be tested?

All faculty and staff who are working full or part time on campus, as well as those who continue to work from home but visit the campus occasionally, are expected to adhere to the health and safety standards established by the College as it relates to pandemic operations. While there is no mandate to test every employee prior to coming to campus, all employees should self-monitor for any symptoms that could pose a risk to the campus community. Any employee who believes they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, and is on the College insurance plan through Christian Brothers, can be tested for free at one of several testing sites in the area. For further details on free testing for employees, please contact Human Resources or visit My Saint Mary’s employee portal.

+Are campus vendors and campus partners required to be tested?

Vendors and other campus visitors essential to the operation of the College (delivery personnel, employees of 1st Source Bank, ECDC, Shaheen Bookstore, ND Campus Dining, etc) follow the testing requirements of their employer, and not Saint Mary’s College. They will be required to adhere to College policies that require the use of masks and, to the extent possible, maintain appropriate physical distance while on campus.

+Will the College provide testing for faculty and staff?

The test kits at the Health and Counseling Center are not available to employees. Employees must obtain a test through their family physician, or by visiting the South Bend Optum testing site where they can get tested for free with no doctor’s order. Please note: Co-pays are waived for those employees on the College health insurance plan administered through Christian Brothers. The majority of testing sites provide a polymerise chain reaction (PCR) diagnostic test. Locally, there is a CVS Minute Clinic at 51467 State Road 933 that offers drive-through PCR testing.

+Will students/faculty/staff be tested on an ongoing basis (pool testing or others)?

Not at this time. However, we will continue to revisit this to determine the best course of action for our campus community. 

+Will I be notified by the College if a student taking one of my classes is quarantined and/or diagnosed with COVID-19?

Through contact tracing, we will assess the level of potential exposure for every person in the classroom, and notify those who may be at risk. The same will occur for those who work in residence halls and other buildings on campus. At the time of notification of possible exposure, health instructions will be provided to guide the individual through the next phase, which could range from increased self-monitoring to self quarantine, depending on the level of risk.

+If I am in a lab with students for 3 hours, but because it's assumed we're six feet apart, will I still be contacted?

Yes. We will not be making assumptions about physical distancing. If a student from your class is moved into quarantine or isolation, you will receive a notice from Academic Affairs. In addition, if the student reports that everyone in your class has remained masked and six feet apart, then you will not be contacted by the contact tracing team.

+What is the status with contact tracing for students, faculty, and staff? When will that begin?

Student contact tracing is up and running. We are also contacting any employee who indicates through their daily health check a “trigger” (i.e. possible exposure or are experiencing symptoms) using the same methods as for students.

Travel Related Questions

+As a student, can I leave campus for the weekend?

The College has accelerated the academic calendar by beginning early, eliminating fall break, and finishing the semester on November 20 in order to reduce the opportunity that the coronavirus could be brought back to campus due to travel. Therefore, we discourage all non-essential travel, including trips home. However, students are not barred from such travel. We do ask that students who choose to leave campus for the weekend adhere to the health and safety guidelines established by the College to reduce the risk of exposure and spread of the coronavirus.

+If I go away for the weekend for personal reasons, do I need to be tested before coming back to campus?

As a general rule, no. However, if you believe you have been exposed to COVID, or are notified that you have been exposed by contract tracers or others, please contact the Health and Counseling Center for further instructions. Furthermore, if you have any symptoms upon your return, please contact the Health and Counseling Center.

+As an employee working on campus, do I need to inform my supervisor if I’ve traveled? Do I need to report weekend travel to my supervisor if I’m working from home?

Non-essential personal and professional travel is discouraged at this time. Please reach out to Human Resources if you have questions regarding your specific circumstances. If you choose to travel for personal reasons, and believe you may have been exposed to COVID, the health and safety standards established by the College require self-isolation and possible testing. For more information, please contact Human Resources or visit My Saint Mary’s employee portal.