COVID Guidelines for the Spring Semester
The following letter was sent to students on January 5, 2022 outlining Saint Mary’s campus protocol for the Spring 2022 semester. For the most up-to-date guidelines for our campus, visit our Health and Safety Standards page.
In less than a week, you will be starting the new semester! You no doubt have questions regarding how the much reported increase in positive COVID-19 cases across the country and in our own community could impact your return to campus. At present, we remain cautiously optimistic that our mitigation strategies will continue to contain any serious outbreaks. Because of this, we will resume in-person classes as planned.
This is welcome news to receive, we are sure. And while we are pleased to share it, we do so with a watchful eye. Late last week, we met with the Deputy Health Officer for the St. Joseph County Health Department. We shared with him our guidelines, made adjustments based on his expert feedback, and together are comfortable with the following mitigation strategies for the spring semester, including updates on re-entry testing and masking policies. Please carefully review the following:
Daily Health Survey
The daily health check email will begin January 10 as a reminder to continue to monitor your health. You only need to complete the survey if you are diagnosed with COVID-19, develop COVID-19 symptoms, or if you are in direct contact with someone positive with COVID-19.
Dashboard on the Website
The College will begin a weekly COVID-19 Dashboard on January 17, following the first week of classes.
Eating and Drinking
Being unmasked while eating with others has been identified as a high-risk activity. Because of this, we will revert back to a no-food policy at College activities and/or meetings through January. If individuals want to take a sip of a drink, they should only remove their masks while they are actively drinking. We will not take the added measure of reinstalling the plexiglass at Noble Family Dining Hall, but please wear your mask while getting your food there or at other food outlets on campus, and keep your mask on until you are seated. Mask up again as soon as you are done eating, and before you leave your table.
Based on the recommendation of our county health officials, we strongly recommend the use of KN95 or surgical masks during the month of January. These types of masks have been found to be more effective than cloth masks in slowing down the spread of the virus. You can also consider wearing a disposable mask under a double-layer cloth mask for additional protection.
Sunday, January 2 through Sunday, January 30— Everyone on campus will be required to wear a mask indoors, including elevators and stairwells in residence halls. We consistently see an increase in positive cases on campus after breaks, and this additional measure will help mitigate the spread.
Monday, January 31 through February 11—All students regardless of vaccination status and unvaccinated faculty will be required to wear masks in the classroom. Vaccinated faculty will continue to have the discretion to remove their mask in the classroom if it is best for student learning to teach without a mask, and if the faculty member can physically distance themselves from others in the classroom. In addition, we ask that all members of our community mask in offices where use of a mask is requested. This extended period of time will allow us to assess the current situation of the pandemic after the holidays and after the return of our own community, and make a determination for the continued use of masks after February 11.
All members of the community are encouraged to 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.
Individuals who are unvaccinated, not yet fully vaccinated or have not yet received a booster are required to wear masks indoors for the duration of the semester. An individual is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their final COVID vaccination dose has been received.
In addition to following Saint Mary’s masking requirements, athletes will follow NCAA and/or MIAA masking guidelines.
Mother Angela Care Center
This private and secure space located in Regina Hall South is again open for residential students who need to quarantine or isolate. In anticipation of a possible surge in cases as we come back to campus, students who need to quarantine or isolate whose primary home is within 300 miles of campus will need to make arrangements to move home within 24 hours to complete their quarantine and/or isolation period. 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 recommendations for the duration requirements of quarantine and isolation.
In an effort to start the semester with as close to 0 COVID-19 cases as possible, we strongly suggest that ALL students take an at-home, rapid COVID test the morning before moving back to campus or attend your first class, whichever happens first. If your test is negative, proceed to campus; you do not need to submit your results. If your test yields a positive result, please stay home and inform the Health and Counseling Center by emailing HCCenter@saintmarys.edu.
In addition, students who have received an exemption from the vaccine or who are not fully vaccinated will be required to test on Monday, January 10, between 7 a.m. and noon, before their first Saint Mary’s class. Students must sign up ahead of time with the Health and Counseling Center for a time to be tested on campus. Students might be asked to remain at the Angela Athletic & Wellness Complex until their test results are available and they are cleared to proceed. The Health and Counseling Center will determine, based on information gathered from the student at the time of the appointment, if an antigen or a PCR test will be administered. The cost is $5 for the antigen test, and $40 for the PCR test. It will be charged to the student’s account.
Residence Hall Guests
Saint Mary’s students, faculty and staff have access to residence hall common areas and rooms, as do members of the tri-campus community, following regular visitation policies. Masking policies are applicable while in residence hall common areas (including elevators and stairwells) and residential rooms. Guests outside the tri-campus community will only be allowed in residence halls or in rooms during move-in, and must be masked at all times, regardless of vaccination status.
Screening testing for students who have received an exemption or who are not fully vaccinated will begin the week of January 17.
- Unvaccinated students and employees, including those who are not yet fully vaccinated, are required to be tested weekly. Check your email in the next week for instructions on how to sign up for your weekly test appointment. The cost of the weekly test is $5 and will be charged to your student account.
- Vaccinated employees and students will not be required to participate in screening testing at this time. If guidance from the CDC or local health officials changes, however, we may reinstate random screening testing for vaccinated populations.
- Athletes will follow NCAA and MIAA testing protocols for vaccinated and unvaccinated athletes.
On December 9, we announced the decision to extend the current vaccine requirements for enrollment to include the COVID-19 vaccine booster. Saint Mary’s students must provide proof of their booster by January 21, 2022 by uploading an image to Medicat.
Some students might not be eligible to receive a booster before the required deadline. If you received your second Pfizer or Moderna dose less than 6 months before January 21, 2022, or a Johnson & Johnson vaccine less than 2 months before this date, or have received COVID treatment that contraindicates receiving the booster, you are required to contact the Health and Counseling Center to determine your deadline to submit proof of the booster by emailing HCCenter@saintmarys.edu. Please see the Vaccination Resource page on our website for more information. You are required to continue masking indoors until you receive your booster.
Employees are also required to provide proof of the COVID-19 vaccine booster, and should upload their booster information using this form. Some employees might not yet be eligible to receive a booster. If you received your second Pfizer or Moderna dose less than 6 months before February 1, 2022, or a Johnson & Johnson vaccine less than 2 months before this date, or have received COVID treatment that contraindicates receiving the booster, you are required to contact Human Resources to determine your deadline to submit proof of the booster by emailing HR@saintmarys.edu. You are required to continue masking indoors until you receive your booster.
The College welcomes visitors to campus and asks that they honor the College’s and local health officials guidelines. 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 must follow Saint Mary’s masking and other protocols while on campus.
We are all aware that the new variants are aggressive and contagious, and experts expect to see a surge in January due to the high volume of holiday travel. We ask for your patience and cooperation as we continue to navigate the expected and unexpected. If you have any questions, we invite you to visit our All Together website which outlines FAQs, along with Health and Safety Standards. As always, please don’t hesitate to email email@example.com.
Gloria Roldán Jenkins
Interim Vice President for Student Affairs
Chair, COVID Response Team