An Update on Masking at Saint Mary’s
The following letter was sent to the campus community on March 18, 2022.
GREAT NEWS!! COVID numbers around the US, here in St. Joseph County, and certainly at Saint Mary’s continue to decrease. In fact, we had a stretch of a month when we did not have any known positive student or employee cases. Given that our numbers continue to be very low, we feel comfortable relaxing additional protocols for the rest of the semester. Well done, everyone, we got here All Together!
Beginning today, in most cases, masks will no longer need to be worn on campus, including inside classrooms. We are thrilled to be able to announce this, and celebrate this return to a more normal college experience. We are especially happy for our sophomores and first-year students, who can for the first time, enter a college classroom unmasked.
As you’d expect, this welcome relaxing of our COVID-19 guidelines comes with a couple of exceptions, found in detail below the signature line. Two of note: Faculty have the option of requiring the use of masks in their classroom, and students are expected to adhere to their request. And, those who are not up-to-date on their vaccinations should continue to mask in the manner already in place.
It is your responsiblity to review the full list of exceptions, below or on our website.
It is important to remember to offer grace and respect to those who choose to continue masking. There are a number of reasons why someone would continue to wear a mask, including caring for children who are not able to be protected by vaccines, protecting immunocompromised or elder individuals, or being at risk themselves. And in some instances, they could be protecting the rest of us by wearing a mask during CDC-recommended periods of time after a close contact, or after release from quarantine or isolation. So please let’s be kind to each other!
We are also pleased to announce that guests can visit students in their residence hall rooms. We know this will be welcome news for parents and friends who have only been able to see students’ rooms on move-in/move-out days. We know the challenges this restriction has caused, and are happy to finally be able to remove it. As with masking, there are some further guidelines on this, outlined below the signature line.
We have always known this day would come, and we have followed the science to get us here. We will continue to monitor cases in our region and our own community, and will heed any new recommendations from the CDC and the St. Joseph County Department of Health. In the case of a significant outbreak, or concerns of one, we could bring some protocols back to protect our community.
We thank you for your continued commitment to keeping our campus healthy. It has taken all of us individually doing our part to get us to where we are today, and I could not be prouder of the Saint Mary’s community.
Chair, COVID Response Team
Exemptions to the updated masking policy are as follows
- Unvaccinated or Not Up-To-Date with Vaccines. Any individual who is unvaccinated, or is eligible to receive a booster but has not done so, should continue to mask indoors at all times. For students, this includes private residence hall rooms that are not yours.
- Recent Close Contact, Quarantine or Isolation. Following CDC recommendations, you are required to wear a mask indoors when around others due to a close contact, or recent release from quarantine or isolation.
- Private Offices and Classrooms. We ask that all members of our community mask in offices, classrooms and spaces where use of a mask is requested. Employees of the College are encouraged to complete reports on students who are not following masking requirements in offices or individual classrooms, and violations could result in Student Conduct referral.
- Performances, Lectures and Events. Some performances, lectures, or events might require masks. Be prepared to wear a mask if the individual event requires them.
- As Requested. Be prepared to mask when asked.
Residence Halls are now open to all visitors. Residence Hall visitors should follow the same masking protocols outlined above, and should wear masks if they are not up-to-date with the COVID vaccine (they are not vaccinated; or they are eligible for a booster but have not received one), if they are a recent close contact with someone positive, or after recent release from quarantine or isolation periods that require masking. Visitors and hosts should follow pre-pandemic visitation hours and rules. As a reminder, visitation hours are: Sunday to Thursday, 10 a.m. – midnight, Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. – 2 a.m.
The College welcomes visitors to campus. Visitors are not required to wear a mask unless they are not up-to-date with the COVID vaccine (they are not vaccinated; or they are eligible for a booster but have not received one), if they are a recent close contact with someone positive, or after recent release from quarantine or isolation periods that require masking.