Frequently Asked Questions Regarding COVID-19

Masking

+Do I have to wear a mask if I’m vaccinated?

You are welcome to wear a mask anytime and anywhere, if you prefer to do so. Because of our high vaccination rate, masks are not required for fully vaccinated individuals in residence halls, or in other indoor public spaces with the following exceptions: 

  • Now through September 30, all students and unvaccinated faculty are required to wear masks in the classroom. Vaccinated faculty have the discretion to remove their mask in the classroom if it is best for student learning that they teach without a mask, and if the faculty member can physically distance themselves from others in the classroom.
  • All members of our community must wear a mask in offices and spaces where the use of a mask is requested. 
  • All visitors, regardless of vaccination status, are required to wear masks indoors, unless actively eating or drinking. 

All members of the community must carry a mask with them at all times and be prepared to wear it when required. In situations when not required to mask, members of the community are encouraged and welcomed to mask any time they prefer to do so.

+Do students and employees have to wear a mask if they have received an exemption?

Yes. Individuals who are unvaccinated are required to wear masks indoors, unless alone in their residence hall (students) or alone in their office (employees).

+Do students and employees have to wear a mask if they have one dose of the vaccine, but have not yet received the second one?

Yes. Individuals who are not yet fully vaccinated are required to wear masks indoors, unless alone in their residence hall (students) or alone in their office (employees). The CDC considers an individual fully vaccinated two weeks after the second dose of Pfizer or Moderna, or after one dose of Johnson & Johnson.  

+Why do students and employees with exemptions, or not fully vaccinated, have to wear masks?

We know that the broad immunization of our community is the best way to suppress the spread of COVID-19 on our campus. When a student or employee is unvaccinated, it is important to protect themselves and others. We lean on the guidance of the CDC, IDOH, and our county health department who state that masks should be worn by unvaccinated individuals whenever there is a risk of transmission. 

+Are all these rules applicable for the entire semester?

We continue to monitor the development of the pandemic, and any new recommendations from the CDC, the Indiana Department of Health and our local health officials. As their recommendations change, we will adjust our mitigation strategies accordingly. Students and employees will be informed of any changes via their Saint Mary’s College email address.

Vaccinations

+Who is required to have a vaccine at Saint Mary’s College?

All students and employees of Saint Mary’s are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by the beginning of the fall semester. Exemptions are available for verified religious or medical reasons, and must be approved. 

+Why is the College requiring a COVID vaccine?

It is clear that our ability to remain together for in-person instruction depends on suppressing the spread of COVID-19 in our community. Because we are a congregate-living residential community, we must take every step available to prevent this highly infectious disease. The broad immunization of our campus community is critical to achieving this goal. 

+How do I document my vaccine?

Students, to document your vaccination, please complete the Student COVID-19 Vaccination Information form. Employees, you must document your vaccination record using this form.  

+How do I seek an exemption?

Undergraduate and graduate students attending classes on campus may request an exemption from the vaccination requirement for verified medical or religious reasons. Information on how to request medical or religious reasons exemptions can be found here. Employees are asked to contact the Office of Human Resources as soon as possible to request an exemption, hr@saintmarys.edu or (574) 284-4542.

+Is the University of Notre Dame requiring Saint Mary’s students who are enrolled in ND classes or activities such as band to show proof of a vaccine?

The University of Notre Dame is requiring all students enrolled in courses, active in student organizations, or in band to provide proof of having a COVID-19 vaccine. That includes Saint Mary’s students. Notre Dame will honor exemptions to the vaccine approved by Saint Mary’s. 

+Should I get the vaccine if I have had COVID?

Generally, having had COVID does not prevent you from getting the vaccine. In fact, the CDC recommends that people who have had COVID-19 should receive the vaccine for continued protection against the virus. However, if you were treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. If in doubt, speak with your doctor, or with the individual administering the vaccine.

+Will contract tracing after an individual tests positive differ for students who are unvaccinated vs. those who are vaccinated?

The process of contact tracing does not change based on the vaccination status of the student who is positive. However, once it has been determined who in the community has been in direct contact with the student (as defined by the CDC), the direct contact individuals might follow different protocols depending on their vaccination status. During the contact tracing process, the identity of the individual who has tested positive, or their vaccination status, is never disclosed to other individuals.

Re-entry and Screening Testing

+Why are you requiring students with exemptions and those who are not fully vaccinated to have reentry tests?

Unvaccinated individuals can more easily contract the virus, and are more likely to spread the virus to others. We know testing can slow and stop the spread of the virus. At this time, there are no recommendations to require reentry testing for vaccinated individuals from the CDC, IDH or our local health officials. Of course, these recommendations could change at any minute, based on the progress of the pandemic, and we are ready to pivot if additional testing is deemed necessary. But for now, we will continue to test following these recommendations. 

+Why are you requiring students and employees with exemptions and those who are not fully vaccinated to test weekly?

Unvaccinated individuals can more easily contract the virus, and are more likely to spread the virus to others. We know testing can slow and stop the spread of the virus. At this time, there are no recommendations to require screening testing for vaccinated individuals from the CDC, IDH or our local health officials. Of course, these recommendations could change at any minute, based on the progress of the pandemic, and we are ready to pivot if additional testing is deemed necessary. But for now, we will continue to test following these recommendations.

+Will there be an option to be fully remote for the fall for students who aren’t vaccinated?

DNP and Data Science graduate programs are the only fully online programs for this year. We are delighted to welcome all undergraduate students back to the classroom for in-person education.

Visitor Policy

+Are visitors allowed on campus?

We are pleased to announce that campus is once again open to visitors, who are asked to honor the College's and local health officials guidelines.

+Are visitors required to wear masks?

All visitors, regardless of their vaccination status, will be required to wear a mask indoors. As a reminder, members of the tri-campus community are not considered visitors and should follow Saint Mary’s masking and other protocols while on campus.

+Are visitors allowed in the residence halls?

For Move In Week (August 15-22), visitors are allowed in the residence halls to help to get the students settled.  Beginning August 23,  only members of the Saint Mary’s community—students, faculty, and staff—are allowed in the residence halls and their common areas. As the semester progresses, and we have a better understanding of the virus on our campus, this policy could change. 

Quarantine and Isolation

+How is the College handling student quarantine and isolation?

The Mother Angela Care Center is once again open in Regina Hall South for residential students who need quarantine or isolation. While we anticipate less need for the center due to our high vaccination rate, a care team is in place and will provide comfort and support for students who are in MACC. The Health and Counseling Center team will follow current CDC quarantine and isolation recommendations.

+How is the College handling employee quarantine and isolation?

The Office of Human Resources will follow current CDC quarantine and isolation recommendations.

+Are the rules for quarantine different for individuals who are vaccinated vs. not vaccinated?

Saint Mary’s uses information from the CDC and the Indiana Department of Health (IDH) to inform our protocols. Currently, the CDC and the IDH have different quarantine protocols for individuals who are fully vaccinated, and for those who are not. 

+Do I have to quarantine if I am vaccinated and I come in contact with an individual who is positive for COVID?

According to the CDC, if you are vaccinated, you should get tested with a PCR test 3-5 days after exposure, even if you don’t have symptoms. You should wear a mask indoors in public until the results of your test are available. If your test is negative, and you do not develop symptoms, you can discontinue the use of masks.

+Do I have to quarantine if I am unvaccinated and I come in contact with an individual who is positive for COVID?

According to the CDC, if you are unvaccinated, you should immediately go into quarantine. You should test with a PCR test, even if you do not have symptoms, on day 5 or later from exposure. If your test is negative, and you do not develop symptoms, you can leave quarantine on day 8 after exposure. You must continue, however, to wear a mask in indoor spaces, avoid eating in public and whenever possible maintain social distance until day 14.

+When do I need to be isolated?

Regardless of vaccination status, a student with a positive COVID test, will need to remain in isolation for 10 days following the onset of symptoms or a positive COVID test, if asymptomatic.

If a student with a positive test has or develops symptoms while in isolation, and these symptoms do not resolve by the 10th day, then isolation continues until symptoms improve and the student is free of fever, without fever reducing medications, for 24 hours.