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Saint Mary’s continues admission tours despite new campus regulations

| Monday, August 31, 2020

Saint Mary’s admissions will continue giving tours after new visiting policies were announced for the tri-campus community. Mona Bowe, Vice President for Enrollment Management, announced new restrictions for campus tours to help maintain the safety of students.

“The visitors coming to campus are in a very controlled environment,” Bowe said. “They’re only coming for the time of the tour. In previous times before the COVID pandemic started, we also offered for prospective students to spend the night to meet with admission counselors, faculty members or coaches, and they could go to classes. All of that has been restricted at this point in time, so the families are only coming for the tour, which takes about an hour and 15 minutes.” 

The College has taken additional safety precautions to promote the well-being of the campus community, she said. 

“We are keeping the tour outside except for Angela and the library because they’re much bigger spaces. Visitors are not going into residence halls, the students center or any other indoor space. All the families that are coming to the tours are required to wear a mask entire time that they’re here, whether it’s indoors or outdoors,” Bowe said.

Visitors are also being asked to self-report their health before coming to campus and staff is checking their symptoms upon arrival. 

“They’re being asked the same types of questions that students answer in the morning,” she said. “We haven’t done this before, but starting this week, we’re also taking their temperatures when they get here before starting the floor.”

The College has told student tour guides they have the choice to continue giving tours for as long as they are comfortable. 

“We told students who have signed up to give tours that at any point in time, they can say, ‘I’m not comfortable doing this,’ and they don’t have to continue giving tours. So, these are the students who are comfortable maintaining their distance and wearing masks through the entire time that the families are here,” she said.

Student tour guides have had some concerns about continuing campus tours after recent restrictions were announced. Senior Ellen Duda decided to temporarily opt out of giving tours.

“I decided that once the restrictions are put in place, I was no longer comfortable giving tours,” Duda said. “I love my job, and I love being able to talk to students, but also if I were a student who doesn’t work for admissions and I saw outside visitors on campus, I personally would be upset. That’s one of my reason for stepping back a little bit currently.”

Duda also expressed concerns about the risks of allowing visitors from all across the country to tour campus. 

“We have people from all over the U.S. coming to campus. That’s the beauty of Saint Mary’s, we have representation from all fifty states, but that also brings up concerns about where people have been how they travel to get here,” she said. 

Duda said admissions has been very flexible and supportive of student tour guides during this time. 

“They were pretty flexible with students concerns about being shut down and still giving tours. They said if we weren’t comfortable, we wouldn’t have to give tours anymore and we wouldn’t be fired,” she said.

Senior tour guide Maddie Hopek has decided to continue giving tours, expressing that admissions has been flexible at addressing student concerns.

“With the recent changes, a lot of girls had questions they wanted to ask about for their tours, what they can do, what it would change and they were really prompt on getting back to us with answers making sure that we felt safe,” she said. “If anyone were to feel uncomfortable, there was no pressure for students to continue giving tours.”

Hopek said that she thinks the College has done the best they can to maintain safety during tours.

“I think they’ve done the best they can given the situation,” she said. “The fact that we’re able to still see certain buildings, or just in general, still be allowed to give tours is important, especially as we depend on having a good size incoming class next year to keep funding this school and the place we love.” 

Despite the pandemic, Hopek said the tour numbers she has been giving have remained consistent for her this semester, although she only has two families per tour. 

Bowe said continuing admissions tours is the best way to make the admissions process as normal as possible while keeping the community safe. 

“We want to try to make the admission process as normal and as positive for them as possible,” she said. “We’re glad that we’re finding ways to make it safe for our community and the families. We are continuing to give tours and we hope that we can continue doing that as we move along.” 

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