California Covid Guidelines and Campus Vaccine Update

Dear Saint Mary’s Community,

Yesterday was another very successful and exhilarating day on campus.  Our new students participating in orientation were excited and energetic. And while these new Gaels were becoming more familiar with their new home, we received another encouraging sign that conditions are continuing to improve throughout the state and that our campus planning is well on track;  the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board enacted revised workplace pandemic rules that amend state mandates requiring physical distancing and facial coverings for employees who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Though this is welcome news, we ask that you remain vigilant over the next few weeks and continue to practice mitigation measures on campus that help to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus: masking, hand washing, and maintaining appropriate distancing. We, as a community, have done an exceptional job of preventing on-campus transmission of the virus over the past fifteen months. And as we all look forward to the light at the end of this long tunnel, it is important that we do so carefully and deliberately.

The CDC’s guidance for institutions of higher education recommends that colleges begin reducing restrictions when external conditions have sufficiently improved and COVID-19 vaccination coverage among students, faculty, and staff is sufficiently high. We are optimistic that our requirement that students be vaccinated to participate in in-person classes, live in residential housing, and use campus facilities, absent a medical or religious exemption, will ensure that most students will be vaccinated this fall. In addition, our employee survey suggests that the vast majority of our faculty and staff are, or plan to be, fully vaccinated.

However, until we have the new systems in place to verify vaccination coverage, we ask that you remain vigilant in helping to prevent potential spread on campus.

On July 1, we will be rolling out a secure system for students to verify their vaccination status and to apply for exemptions if necessary. We will also be asking faculty and staff to verify their vaccination status so that we are able to determine whether it is prudent to lift campus restrictions, in line with the CDC’s recommendations. Also on that date, we will be retiring the daily health check for faculty, staff, and students coming to campus, while maintaining checks for campus visitors.

I am grateful for everything you have done to prioritize the health and wellness of our campus community and for your continued commitment to one another as we prepare for a robust start of the coming academic year.

Sincerely,

 

Margaret Kasimatis
Interim Executive Vice President