Relaxing Our College Masking Protocols
The following letter was sent to the campus community on February 11, 2022.
Dear Saint Mary’s Community members,
We are pleased to report some good news regarding the status of our campus, and how this news impacts our COVID-19 safety measures. As you’ll read below, our booster compliance and rates of infection are moving in a positive direction. Because of the current trajectory of these important metrics, we feel confident relaxing our masking policy to our fall semester standards. Therefore, effective immediately, all members of the Saint Mary’s student and employee community who are up to date on their vaccinations, which includes the booster for those eligible to receive it, can remove their masks indoors, if they are comfortable doing so. Several important exceptions are outlined in the Masking section below.
A full list of our current COVID-19 protocols can be found here. Please continue reading for updates in several other key areas.
To remain in compliance with our Vaccination Policy, the College required all eligible students document proof of being up to date on all vaccinations, including boosters, by January 21. We are proud to report that 92% of our students eligible to receive the booster (as of Feb. 7) have done so. As more students become eligible to receive their booster, this number will continue to climb. Employees were required to document their proof of compliance by February 7. We are pleased to report that 91% of employees eligible for a booster have documented their results. The Office of Student Affairs and the Office of Human Resources are working closely with those who are out of compliance.
We are encouraged by the latest case counts for our own community. Between January 31 and today, we have documented only 4 positive student cases. The number of students who are in quarantine and isolation, either at home or in the Mother Angela Care Center, remains in the single digits. These numbers mirror national trends, as the Omicron variant seems to be subsiding. Our county health numbers also continue to drop at satisfying rates. Our COVID-19 dashboard is updated weekly on Monday. To view our latest numbers, click here.
As we mentioned above, all members of the Saint Mary’s student and employee community who are up to date on their vaccinations can remove their masks indoors if comfortable doing so, with the following exceptions:
- Classrooms. All students regardless of vaccination status, and faculty who are not up-to-date with the COVID vaccine, will be required to wear masks in the classroom. Faculty who are up-to-date with the COVID vaccine 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. Faculty do not have the discretion to allow students to remove their masks inside classrooms.
- Private Offices. We ask that all members of our community mask in offices and spaces where use of a mask is requested.
- Unvaccinated or Not Up To Date with Vaccines. Any student or employee who is unvaccinated, or is eligible to receive a booster but has not done so, must mask indoors at all times. For students, this includes private residence hall rooms that are not yours.
- Recent Close Contact, Quarantine or Isolation. You are required to wear a mask indoors if you are within the time frame during which you are required to mask when around others due to a close contact, or recent release from quarantine or isolation.
- Performances and Lectures. Some performances and lectures might require masks. Be prepared to wear a mask if the individual event requires them.
- As Requested. Be prepared to mask when asked.
Meetings can once again be conducted in person at the discretion of the organizer. All individuals are required to follow current masking protocols. When possible, it is recommended to open windows to allow for optimum air circulation. Participants are encouraged to wear masks if they are more comfortable doing so.
Saint Mary’s students, faculty and staff, and tri-campus students do not need to wear a mask in private residence hall rooms or other public spaces, unless you are required to mask due to the following: being a close contact or recent release from quarantine or isolation; you are not vaccinated; or you are eligible for a booster but have not received one. At this time, other than the populations outlined above, no other visitors, including parents, are allowed in private residence hall rooms. We will continue to revisit this policy as the semester progresses.
Eating and Drinking
Food and drink is once again allowed at student and employee activities and meetings, beginning Tuesday, February 15. Also included in this update, effective immediately we will no longer offer takeaway containers as an alternate dining option in Noble Family Dining Hall. In recent weeks, Campus Dining generously offered them as a temporary measure to reduce capacity in the Noble Family Dining Hall. We will continue to revisit this food and drink policy as the semester progresses. We ask that everyone use good judgment in terms of eating and drinking, and be mindful of your proximity to others.
The College welcomes visitors to campus, and into any building with the exception of private residence halls. 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 but should follow all current Saint Mary’s protocols.
We hope this is all welcome news, and we thank you for your continued commitment to keeping our campus healthy. It is because of your commendable actions that we are where we are today. I am proud of the work you have all done, and look forward to moving through this semester as a more connected and faith-filled community.
Chair, COVID Response Team