Guidelines for the Fall 2021 semester

The following letter was sent to members of the Saint Mary’s community on August 13, 2021 in preparation for the Fall 2021 semester.

Since June 1, we have been preparing for the fall semester in many ways. Our goal has been to create a fall semester that is full of the typical activities and traditions of the season, while continuing to consider CDC and IDOH guidelines.  We are confident that even with the unpredictability of the Delta and other variant strains, by following the science, routinely reviewing emerging data and remaining flexible, we can ensure a successful fall for our entire campus community.

We are pleased to report that, as of August 12, 92% of employees are vaccinated and over 88% of students are vaccinated, with additional individuals submitting proof of vaccination every day. Thanks to this high vaccination rate, we are able to restore some campus activities to pre-pandemic levels. For instance, the plexiglass in the dining hall has been removed, classrooms have been put back to their original configuration and vaccinated students will not need to wear masks in the residence halls (further guidance on masking is below).  

If there is one thing we have learned in the past 18 months, it is that we need to be nimble to respond to the changing conditions brought on by COVID-19. The guidelines presented below are influenced by the fact that we are a highly vaccinated campus in a county that has an increased level of transmission. To begin the semester, we ask that everyone review and honor the following:


One of the hallmarks of a Saint Mary’s education is the in-person nature of coursework. Therefore, all fall 2021 courses will be taught in person. Remote access to classes will not be offered this fall. If a student is sick, they will follow the College’s normal practice for missed classes. For further guidance on missing classes, refer to the Student Handbook.

Classrooms and Common Area Capacity

In nearly all cases,  classrooms, laboratories, and common areas such as residence hall lounges and Noble Family Dining Hall have been reset to normal capacity. In certain classrooms, spacing students to an appropriate distance might be necessary, and will be marked accordingly. Chapels and sacred spaces will be open for the Saint Mary’s campus community.

COVID-19 Response Protocols

The College continues to closely monitor and respond to the changing conditions due to COVID-19. The COVID Response Group will continue to meet to review data and respond to immediate issues. In addition the COVID Operations team will meet regularly to forecast issues and monitor the current plan.  

Daily Health Survey

The daily health check email will begin August 23 as a reminder to continue to monitor your health. You only need to complete  the survey if you are diagnosed with COVID, develop COVID symptoms, if you are in direct contact with someone positive with COVID.

Dashboard on the Website

The College will begin the COVID-19 Dashboard on August 24, following the first day of classes.


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.

Sunday, August 15 through Sunday, August 22— Move-in and Belles Beginnings— everyone on campus will be required to wear a mask indoors.

Monday, August 23 through September 30—all students regardless of vaccination status and unvaccinated faculty will be required to wear masks in the classroom. Vaccinated faculty have the discretion to remove their mask in the classroom if, pedagogically, it is best to teach without a mask, and if the faculty member can physically distance 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.  

Individuals who are unvaccinated or not yet fully vaccinated are required to wear masks indoors. An individual is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their final COVID vaccination dose has been received.

Visitors and guests regardless of vaccination status are required to wear masks indoors in all buildings, except when actively eating or drinking.

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.

Re-Entry Testing

All students who are not fully vaccinated or who have received an exemption from the vaccine will be required to provide a negative PCR test taken 3 days prior to arrival, and a rapid antigen test upon arrival.  

Residence Hall Guests

Saint Mary’s students, faculty and staff have access to residence hall common areas and rooms. Guests are not allowed in residence halls or in rooms, including tri-campus community members, except during move-in.  

Screening Testing

Screening testing for students and employees who are not fully vaccinated or who have received an exemption will begin the week of August 30.

  • Unvaccinated employees and students, 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.
  • Vaccinated employees and students will not be required to test unless CDC or St. Joseph County recommendations change, or outbreaks occur.
  • Athletes will follow NCAA and MIAA testing protocols for vaccinated and unvaccinated athletes.


The College welcomes visitors to campus and asks that they honor the guidelines set forth by the College and local health officials. 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 aware that the Delta variant is acting differently than the original or prior variants. We ask for your patience and cooperation as we navigate a brand new set of challenges. Last year, all of us as a team worked together to complete the academic year. We are confident with teamwork and grace towards each other, we can once again finish the semester in style.


Be well, and stay healthy,

Mona Bowe
Vice President forEnrollment Management, and COVID Response Chair

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