Saint Mary’s announces COVID guidelines for fall
Observer Staff Report | Friday, August 13, 2021
Saint Mary’s announced campus guidelines for the fall semester Friday in an email to the campus community from interim vice president for Student Affairs Gloria Jenkins and vice president for enrollment management and COVID response chair Mona Bowe.
“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 Indiana Department of Health guidelines,” the email said.
The email said guidelines were influenced by high vaccination rates from students, faculty and staff following the College’s decision to mandate the COVID vaccine.
“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,” the email said.
Therefore, the school has been able to reinstate some campus activity. The campus has removed plexiglass from the tables in the Noble Family Dining Hall, classrooms have been restored to their regular configurations and fully vaccinated students will not be required to wear masks in residence halls.
All members of the community are encouraged to carry a mask with them at all times and be prepared to wear it when required. Community members are also welcome to wear a mask in situations in which it is not required and any time they prefer to do so, the email said.
Starting the first day of classes, on Monday, Aug. 23, through Sept. 30, all students — regardless of vaccination status — and unvaccinated faculty will be required to wear a mask in the classroom. Vaccinated faculty will have the option to remove their mask if they consider it best for student learning that they teach without one, and if they are able to i social distance in the classroom.
Individuals who are unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated are required to wear a mask at all times indoors. The College stated that an individual is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their final COVID vaccination dose has been received.
Classroom and common area capacities
All fall 2021 courses will be taught in person, and remote access to classes will not be offered. Students who are sick should follow the College’s normal practice for missed classes. For more information, students should refer to the student handbook.
In nearly all cases, capacity has been reset to normal except for certain classrooms being spaced to allow for social distancing as necessary. Chapels and sacred spaces will be open for the Saint Mary’s campus community, per the email.
Daily health survey and dashboard
The daily health check survey should only be completed if a student is diagnosed with COVID, develops COVID symptoms or has been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID, the email said.
The COVID-19 cases dashboard on the Saint Mary’s website will be updated following the first day of classes.
Re-entry testing and screening
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 and a rapid antigen test upon arrival. Students must sign up online with the Health and Counseling Center.
Screening tests for students and employees who are not fully vaccinated or who have received an exemption will begin the week of Aug. 23.
Visitors and residence hall guests
All Saint Mary’s students, faculty and staff will have access to residence hall common areas and rooms. Guest and other tri-campus community members are not allowed in residence halls or in rooms, except during move-in. The College will allow visitors on campus and ask that they honor the College’s and local health guidelines. In addition, all visitors will be required to wear a mask indoors regardless of their vaccination status.
“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,” the email said.
The email also acknowledged the Delta variant.
“We are all aware that the Delta variant is aggressive and contagious,” the email said. “We ask for your patience and cooperation as we navigate a brand new set of challenges.”