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Mount Safe Initiative

Mount Safe Policies for Spring 2022

Effective January 6, 2022

The emergence of the Omicron variant along with holiday travel has led to a dramatic rise in COVID-19 cases nationwide during December 2021. Now, in early January, the national 7-day average of daily new cases is at an all-time high. The CDC recommends the use of masks indoors in areas with substantial or high community transmission rates and rates are in the high category throughout Maryland. Moreover, the Frederick County Board of Health has mandated mask wearing while indoors in any public space.

The following policies are based on known information about the COVID-19 virus, the effectiveness of the vaccines available now and public health recommendations. These policies will be adjusted as needed, at the university’s discretion, based upon changes to public health guidance and conditions on campus or in the surrounding region.

The health and safety of our students, seminarians, and employees is our main priority. If you have any questions about these policies or concerns about safety or COVID-19, we encourage you to promptly report those concerns to the vice president and dean of students (esses@msmary.edu), the rector (baker@msmary.edu) or the executive director of human resources (k.hurley@msmary.edu).

Mitigating the Risk

In order to minimize the risk of transmission of COVID-19 during the Spring 2022 semester, the Mount is instituting several prevention strategies. Given that students and seminarians are returning to campus from many states and locations around the world with varying levels of COVID cases, and that case rates are rising rapidly in Frederick County and Maryland, everyone must wear a medical-grade face mask while indoors on campus, regardless of vaccination status. More details on this policy are below.

General Risk Reduction Measures

Universal Indoor Mask Requirement

At both the Emmitsburg and Frederick campuses, all students, seminarians, employees and visitors, regardless of vaccination status, are required to wear medical-grade masks while indoors with the following exceptions:

  • In your own residence hall room
  • While actively eating and drinking
  • Alone in a room, such as an office or meeting room
  • During vigorous exercise

“Medical-grade” masks that are acceptable include surgical masks, KN95 and N95 respirators, and other products that are NIOSH-certified, have 3 layers of fabric, and a pliable nose wire.

The Mount will provide 1 medical-grade mask (surgical, KN95, or N95) per day to students and employees who need one. Once the current surge in COVID cases in the region abates, the medical-grade mask requirement will be reevaluated.

Testing on Return To Campus

All Seminarians must be tested for COVID-19 upon return to campus (January 9, 2022). All undergraduate students taking classes in-person on the Emmitsburg campus in Spring 2022 must be tested for COVID-19 on January 17 or 18 in the PAC (or submit a negative test result dated 1/17 or 1/18 from another provider to the vice president and dean of students). The only exceptions to this are student-athletes and other early returning students who are tested prior to January 17.

All students and seminarians are strongly encouraged to get a COVID-19 test 3-7 days before returning to campus. Report positive results to the vice president and dean of students and complete isolation before returning to campus.

All employees are strongly encouraged to get a COVID-19 test prior to 17 January. Report positive results to human resources and complete isolation before returning to campus.

Surveillance Testing

All students, seminarians and employees who are not fully vaccinated must be tested weekly. All students, seminarians and employees are expected to comply when instructed to participate in a testing session. A sample of students and seminarians who are fully vaccinated will also be tested weekly until case numbers decline regionally. Weekly wastewater testing will be used to help identify those to be tested.

Handwashing and Transmission Etiquette

All individuals should wash their hands or use hand sanitizer frequently. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and throw used tissues in the trash. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands.

Until further notice, eating is not permitted in classrooms (including labs and studios) nor in public areas of academic buildings (Knott Academic Center, Knott Auditorium, Delaplaine, Phillips Library, Coad Science Building, Borders, Purcell, Barrett, and the Frederick Campus). Beverages may be consumed but masks must be replaced immediately after drinking.

Isolation and Contact Tracing

The Mount has procedures in place to isolate anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 and to perform contact tracing.

Wastewater Testing

Wastewater testing from residential buildings has proven to be an effective method for identifying clusters of COVID-19 cases and will continue to be employed in Spring 2022.

Last updated January 14, 2022.