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COVID-19 Monitoring and Response Plan

I. Purpose

The COVID-19 Monitoring and Response Plan provides general guidance for planning, tracking and decision-making for the 2020-21 academic year in which we expect COVID-19 to have an impact on our campus. The guidelines should lead to appropriate responses in dynamic and sometimes rapidly changing circumstances.

This plan further identifies departments and individuals that are directly responsible and accountable for emergency response and critical support services. It also details a structure for coordinating and deploying essential resources.

II. Scope

The resources and strategies outlined in this plan are designed to provide guidance to students, faculty and staff at MSMU’s main campus, Frederick campus, Seminary, and Grotto.

The primary stakeholders involved in managing infectious disease situations could include Student Life, Academic Affairs, Wellness Center, Public Safety, University Operations, University Affairs, and Physical Plant working in conjunction with the Frederick County Department of Health, MD State Health Department, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). See Appendix A for contact information.

III. Overview

The university will continue to monitor the public health situation in Maryland and surrounding states and the implications of this on our operations. The university has a plan in place for daily attestations of employee and student health and a plan for identifying and containing any COVID-19 cases on campus. We will be monitoring metrics that indicate the level of exposure of our community to COVID-19. If these metrics reach specified threshold levels, the university’s Emergency Action Team will be engaged to develop a response to protect our community. The President will call meetings of the Emergency Action Team as needed.

IV. Emergency Action Team

If needed, the President will convene an Emergency Action Team to assess the level of health threat to our community, develop appropriate responses to mitigate the threat, and communicate the situation to the community. Team members are:

  • President (Timothy E. Trainor, Ph.D., Team Leader)
  • Executive Vice President (Kraig Sheetz, Ph.D.)
  • Provost (Boyd Creasman, Ph.D.)
  • Vice President for Student Life (Bernard Franklin, Ph.D.)
  • Vice President for University Affairs (Pauline Engelstatter)
  • Vice President and Rector of the Seminary (Msgr. Andrew Baker, S.T.D.)
  • Vice President for Business & Finance (Bill Davies)
  • Executive Director of Strategic Planning and Institutional Effectiveness (Jeff Simmons, Ph.D.)
  • Director of University Operations (Maureen Plant)
  • Environmental Assessment Specialist (Will Wood)
  • Director Capital Projects & Energy Management (Todd Otis)
  • Director of Public Relations & Communications (Donna Klinger)
  • Leader of the Mount Contact Tracing Team (Kristin Hurley)

V. Community Health Metrics

ASPIRE is responsible for the daily monitoring of the following health metrics:

  • Number of confirmed COVID-19 cases (tracked separately for residential students, offcampus traditional students, student athletes, GCPS students, seminarians, and employees)
  • Number of students and Seminarians in isolation* on campus by group
  • Number of students and Seminarians in quarantine** (by group)
  • Number of employees not working due to responses on their daily health attestation
  • Number of people hospitalized with a confirmed case (as an indicator of severity)

*Isolation is defined as a student moved into the university’s isolation space because of a positive test result for COVID-19.

**Quarantine is defined as a student who is following self-quarantine procedures in their own room or residence because they may have been exposed to someone who tested positive for the coronavirus, have returned from out of state travel, or are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.

ASPIRE in coordination with Human Resources will also monitor the completion of daily health attestations by employees and students. If the aggregate percent of employees or students completing these on a given day falls below 80%, we will implement a communication campaign to remind everyone to complete these. Human Resources and the Dean of Students are responsible for the daily follow up with individual employees and students who do not complete the attestation.

VI. Alert Levels and Response

Thresholds for Transition Among Health Alert Levels

Metric Level 1 to Level 2 Threshold Level 2 to Level 3 Threshold
Active cases among UG students 40 60
Active cases among residential students 32 50
% of campus isolation spaces used 50% 100%
Active cases among seminarians 3 6
Percentage of employees with confirmed cases 2% 4%
Positive Test % (Positivity) in “random” surveillance testing 4% 8%
Weeks in a row of upward trend in number of cases 4

According to the level of incidences of COVID-19 cases on campus, the University will adapt its operations as necessary using four Alert Levels. The thresholds or triggers for each level are explained below.

Level Zero: No health alert - following normal operations

  • Vaccine or effective therapeutic treatment is widely available.
  • No cases on campus, very few to no cases in Frederick County.

Level One: Low Level Health Alert (see Appendix for threshold data)

  • Fewer than 40 confirmed and active student cases of the coronavirus (~2% of FT+PT UG population).
  • Fewer than 32 confirmed and active residential student cases (~2% of Residential population).
  • Campus isolation spaces at 50% or less capacity (28 out of 56 beds)
  • Fewer than 3 confirmed and active seminarian cases of the coronavirus (~2% of population).
  • Fewer than 12 of employees with confirmed cases (2% of 620).
  • Positive Test % (Positivity) in surveillance testing events less than 4%.

Potential Responses at Level One

The university will assume a Level One Health Alert for the first two weeks of the Spring 2021 semester until monitoring results can inform the Emergency Action Team. The university will continue to follow the health and safety protocols published in the Mount Safe webpages which includes isolation of COVID-19 cases and performing contact tracing. Wearing of masks and physical distancing are the main risk reduction measures that all employees, students and seminarians should be following.

Level Two: Heightened Level Health Alert (see Appendix for threshold data)

  • 41 to 60 confirmed and active UG student cases of COVID-19 (2% to 3% of students)
  • 33 to 50 confirmed and active residential UG student cases of COVID-19
  • 28 to 55 campus isolation spaces in use for isolation cases (51% to 98% capacity)
  • 3 to 6 confirmed and active seminarian cases of COVID-19
  • 12 to 24 employees with confirmed cases (2 to 4% of employees)
  • Positive Test % (Positivity) in surveillance testing events between 4-8%
  • 4 weeks in a row of growth in cases (from community transmission)

Potential Responses at Level Two

The university may consider these additional risk reduction measures among other alternatives:

  • Reduce or restrict the size of certain on-campus gatherings (e.g., lectures).
  • Reduce or place further restrictions on athletic team practices and travel.
  • Consider expanding the number of isolation spaces.
  • Increase surveillance testing and contact tracing efforts.
  • Reduce or restrict student club and other extra-curricular activities.
  • Further restrict student travel off campus.
  • Require commuter students to attend all classes remotely and not come to campus.
  • Reduce further the number of students physically in classes.
  • Move more employees to telework.

Level Three: Advanced Level Health Alert

  • Greater than 60 confirmed and active student cases of the coronavirus.
  • Greater than 50 confirmed and active residential student cases of the coronavirus.
  • Greater than six confirmed seminarian cases of the coronavirus.
  • Greater than 4% of employees with confirmed cases.
  • Positive Test % (Positivity) in random surveillance testing greater than 8%.
  • Five weeks in a row of growth in cases (from community transmission).
  • Campus isolation spaces at or above 98% capacity (55 out of 56).

Potential Responses at Level Three

At Level Three, the university may consider these additional risk reduction measures beyond Level Two among other alternatives:

  • Move all class instruction to remote delivery.
  • Increase teleworking of employees.
  • Stop all athletic team activities.
  • Send students home for the remainder of the semester.

VII. Communication

All decisions and actions of the Emergency Action Team will be communicated first to the President’s Cabinet and, if necessary, to the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees.

The Director of Communications will develop and disseminate messages to the Mount Community regarding Emergency Action Team actions via email and social media.

The Mount Alert system may be used in emergency situations to inform the Mount Community of urgent matters.

Announcements about the health status of specific individuals is restricted by FERPA1.

  • FERPA prohibits educational agencies (e.g., school districts) and institutions (i.e., schools) from disclosing personally identifiable information (PII) from students’ education record without the prior written consent of a parent or “eligible student,” unless an exception to FERPA’s general consent rule applies. For instance, pursuant to one such exception, the “health or safety emergency” exception. Under the FERPA health or safety emergency exception, an educational agency or institution is responsible for making a determination, on a case-by-case basis, whether to disclose PII from education records, and it may take into account the totality of the circumstances pertaining to the threat.
  • FERPA permits educational agencies and institutions to disclose, without prior written consent, PII from student education records to appropriate parties in connection with an emergency, if knowledge of that information is necessary to protect the health or safety of a student or other individuals.
  • Typically, law enforcement officials, public health officials, trained medical personnel, and parents (including parents of an eligible student) are the types of appropriate parties to whom PII from education records may be disclosed under this FERPA exception.
  • An institution may disclose information about a student’s illness to other students and their parents in the school community without prior written parental or eligible student consent ONLY if a student’s identity is not personally identifiable, whether through single or multiple releases, and taking into account other reasonably available information. One could announce that “a student on campus has tested positive for COVID-19” but one probably should not announce to a class “a student in this class has tested positive” because students likely would be able to figure out who it is based on their absence.
  • Student information generally should not be released to the media. Under FERPA it should only be released to authorized Mount employees and relevant government officials, such as public health officials.
  • See the full Department of Education document for details.
1STUDENT PRIVACY POLICY OFFICE FERPA & Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) March 2020.

VIII. Partnering with State and County Health Departments

The Emergency Action Team and other university officials will remain in communication with the Maryland Department of Health and the Frederick County Health Department and will closely monitor their published guidance and requirements.

IX. Appendix

Table 1. Mount student numbers

Category Actual Fall 2019 Projected Spring 2021
Total Students (FT + PT) 2,318 2,420
Traditional UG (FT + PT) 1,899 1,830
Traditional UG Residential 1,328 1,220
Traditional UG Off Campus 351 370
GPCE Students 473 470
Seminarians 159 159
Employees (FT + PT) 615 615

Fall Metrics at High Point

Week of 9/14/20

  • 24 Active Cases (0.9% of total population of 2660; 1.6% of residential and Seminary population of 1500)
  • 16 Active Cases on campus (0.6% of total population; 1% of residential and Seminary population)
  • 34 Isolation beds in use - some for quarantine (64% of capacity (56 beds)); 16 beds would be 29%.

Note: 45% of cases isolated on campus; 55% of residential cases isolated on campus.

Return to Campus

  • Six cases per 1,000 people in Maryland and in Mid-Atlantic region currently.
  • Add 40% for asymptomatic cases that are not tested: 8.4 cases per 1,000.
  • Returning students: 1,830 returning undergrads – 230 remote students + 160 Seminarians = 1,760.
  • Out of 1,760 students returning, we can expect 8.4 * 1.76 = 15 cases.
  • In August we had 23 positive cases out of 1,780 baseline tests (1.3%).

Conclusion: We can expect at least 20 cases in the baseline testing.