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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 2021-22 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. Context

On 1 July 2021, the State of Emergency in Maryland that had been in place since March 5, 2020 came to an end, indicating that the COVID-19 outbreak in Maryland had been reduced to a minimal level. Although the number of COVID cases is small, it is not zero and we must continue to remain vigilant to protect those who are not fully vaccinated. The following plan is based on known information about the COVID-19 virus, the effectiveness of the vaccines available now and public health recommendations. The plan will be adjusted as needed as public health professionals learn more about the vaccines and update their recommendations.

Beginning in the fall 2021 semester, vaccines are required of all students and seminarians taking any class on the main campus except for those with an approved exemption for a medical reason or a strongly held religious belief and for fully remote students. Students and seminarians who do not present proof of vaccination or an exemption will not be permitted to reside on campus, attend any in-person or blended classes or participate in athletics. Students attending only the Frederick campus are strongly encouraged to be vaccinated.

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 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.

III. 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 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)

IV. Community Health Metrics

Student Life and ASPIRE are responsible for the daily monitoring of the following health metrics:

  • Number of confirmed COVID-19 cases (tracked separately for residential students, off-campus 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 people hospitalized with a confirmed case (as an indicator of severity)
  • Number of fully vaccinated students, Seminarians and employees

*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.

V. Alert Levels and Response

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.

A. Level Zero: No health alert - following normal operations

  • Vaccine or effective therapeutic treatment is widely available
  • The Mount Community (students and employees) on main campus are 90% or more fully vaccinated
  • No cases on campus, very few to no cases in Frederick County

B. Level One: Low Level Health Alert

  • A few, isolated cases of COVID-19 among the main campus community
  • Campus isolation spaces at 50% or less capacity

Potential Responses at Level One

The university will assume a Level One Health Alert for the first two weeks of the Fall 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.

C. Level Two: Heightened Level Health Alert

  • Several cases of COVID-19 among the main campus community and evidence of community transmission
  • 51% to 90% campus isolation spaces in use for isolation cases
  • Several cases among fully vaccinated individuals

Potential Responses at Level Two

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

  • Require risk reduction measures like mask wearing and physical distancing
  • 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

D. Level Three: Advanced Level Health Alert

  • A large number of cases of COVID-19 among the campus community
  • Campus isolation spaces at or above 90% capacity
  • Sustained community transmission within the fully vaccinated population

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

VI. 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 & Public Relations 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.

1STUDENT PRIVACY POLICY OFFICE FERPA & Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) March 2020.

VII. 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.