The health and well-being of our campus community remain our highest priority. We continuously monitor public health guidance and best practices so that we might pivot effectively should conditions change on campus or in our region.
Please use the links at the bottom of the page for updated information and resources regarding COVID-19, Mpox, RSV, and other viruses, including the most current Course Masking Policy (current as of Sept. 8, 2023, though the guidance remains unchanged from academic year 2022-23).
COVID-19 Information, Resources, and FAQs
If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms you should wear a mask around others and get tested as soon as possible. Test kits are available to students at the Student Health Center and the library. It is recommended that you always have a test kit on hand in the event you develop symptoms.
Please feel free to call the Student Health Center at (925) 631-4254 for advice or to schedule an appointment. You may also schedule an appointment online through the student health portal.
Take-home test kits for students are available on campus at the Student Health Center and the library. You may also schedule an appointment for testing at the Student Health Center online or by calling (925) 631-4254 if you have concerning symptoms or would like to speak with a healthcare provider.
Contra Costa residents may order free test kits through the County here.
Other local testing options:
No, but you are expected to isolate from others for at least 5 days per Contra Costa County Guidelines. Please contact the Student Health Center at (925) 631-4254 with any questions.
We encourage you to work with your academic advisor, success coach, and professors to communicate clearly about your required isolation and how you will continue to make academic progress. Please remember that it is your responsibility to work with your teachers on completing class requirements. You may be required to fulfill class assignments and other responsibilities as assigned. You may choose to work with Student Disabilities Services (SDS) on temporary learning accommodations if needed.
It is helpful if you notify those you live with or who may have had exposure to you so they can keep an eye out for symptoms over the next ten days in accordance with Contra Costa County Guidance.
- If you don't have symptoms: You don't need to quarantine. You may attend classes and other events but you should take a COVID test 3–5 days after you were last exposed to see if you're infected. It's also recommended you wear a mask around others for 10 days after the exposure.
- If you have or develop symptoms: Stay home and get tested as soon as possible to determine infection status. Even if you test negative, you should still wear a well-fitting mask indoors around others for 10 days after you were last exposed. If you test positive, begin isolation per Contra Costa County Guidelines.
For those living in campus housing: It is advised that your Covid-19 positive roommate isolate off campus if possible, but if they are unable to do so, please see our section on Isolating with Roommates, below.
If you have experienced a positive test result, please follow the Contra Costa County Covid Guidelines. You should isolate through day 5 (with day "0" being first day of symptoms or day of positive test, whichever came first), and continue to wear a well-fitting mask (e.g., N95, KN95, KF94) around others through day 10. You do NOT need a negative test to leave isolation on day 5.
It is recommended that you leave campus to isolate at home, if possible. For those who cannot return home, Saint Mary's College uses an isolate-in-place protocol for students who test positive for COVID-19. It’s important to keep in mind that campus housing residents who become sick with other illnesses, such as the flu or a cold, usually remain in shared rooms with their roommate(s) while recovering. If applicable, please see the section on Isolating with Roommates, below.
Residence Hall Isolation Guidance:
Remain in your room with the door closed as much as possible—no visitors during this time. Open windows for ventilation if possible.
The following exceptions are allowed for brief trips and then returning directly to your room:
- Using the common bathroom, if necessary. If possible, avoid heavy traffic times, and wash hands with soap as soon as you enter. Always keep your mask on except when brushing your teeth/brief showering. If possible, wipe down any surfaces you have touched with a sani wipe.
- Pick up meals. Remember to remain masked unless eating or drinking. Eat in your room, away from others, and/or outdoors (still distanced from others).
- Use the laundry facilities in your building only when absolutely necessary, and try to avoid peak times. Again, remember to mask!
- Sit outside, away from others to get fresh air. You can go for a walk alone. Please wear your mask.
Please contact the Student Health Center for guidance on isolation on campus or at home.
Notifying Those Exposed:
You are encouraged to notify those you live with or who may have had exposure to you (anyone you spent 15 minutes or more in a 24-hour period in a shared indoor space beginning the 2 days prior to the onset of symptoms or positive test date, whichever is earlier) to let them know to keep an eye out for symptoms over the next ten days in accordance with Contra Costa County Guidance.
Anyone exposed to someone who tests positive will only need to quarantine themselves if they test positive or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.
If you do need to isolate, we encourage you to work with your academic advisor, success coach, and professors to communicate clearly about how you will continue to make academic progress. Please remember that it is your responsibility to work with your teachers on completing class requirements. You may be required to fulfill class assignments and other responsibilities as assigned. You may choose to work with Student Disabilities Services (SDS) on temporary learning accommodations if needed.
Individuals testing positive for COVID-19 are encouraged to move off-campus, if possible, to isolate from others (or remain in their current housing while their roommate moves elsewhere for the duration of their isolation period), but this is not always possible. It’s important to keep in mind that campus housing residents who become sick with other illnesses, such as the flu or a cold, usually remain in shared rooms with their roommate(s) while recovering.
If roommates cannot completely isolate from one another due to a shared room:
- All roommates should wear face coverings as often as possible while in shared room (aside from while sleeping).
- Try to keep your beds (particularly their heads) as far apart as possible.
- Avoid sharing personal items.
- Wash or sanitize hands and surfaces frequently.
- Keep room windows open as much as possible.
- Non-infected roommate(s) should limit time spent in room as much as possible.
Roommates at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 due to underlying medical issues can reach out to their Residential Staff (RAs or RDs) to inquire about temporary on-campus housing (if available) if their COVID-19 positive roommate is unable to move off campus to isolation housing.
Know emergency warning signs* for COVID-19. If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone
Call 911 or call ahead to your local emergency facility: notify the operator that you are seeking care for someone who has or may have COVID-19 symptoms. This list is not all possible symptoms. Call your medical provider for any symptoms that are concerning to you.
*Emergency symptom list is taken from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Updated Oct. 26, 2022). Symptoms of Coronavirus.
Latest Masking Guidelines
Course Masking Policy
We are continuing to follow the Course Masking Policy from academic year 2022-23, which invites faculty to either encourage masking in their class (but not require it), or to require masking in their class - and, if they do, must communicate the masking requirement clearly to all students, including a statement in the course syllabus. Syllabus statements for either option are included in the previous fall announcement.
Additional Virus Information
GET YOUR FLU SHOT! The best way to prevent influenza is by getting the updated vaccine each year.
The Student Health Center wants the SMC Community to be prepared and informed about this public health concern.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age or older as the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease. Getting the flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available each year is best. Flu shots given in the fall should cover you until next fall.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Does Flu Spread?
Most experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, eyes or possibly their nose.
What are the signs and symptoms?
The symptoms of the flu in people include fever and chills, cough, sore throat, runny nose or congested sinuses, body aches, headache, and fatigue. A significant number of people who have been infected with this virus also have reported diarrhea and vomiting. Severe illnesses and death have occurred as a result of illness associated with this virus.
What should I do if I get flu like symptoms?
Start with rest, lots of fluids and good nutrition. You may take over the counter medication for some symptom relief. If symptoms are worsening, seek medical attention immediately. If you have a chronic medical condition such as diabetes, cancer, asthma, heart or lung problems, a weakened immune system or pregnant, please consult your physician or the Student Health Center as soon as possible.
The CDC recommends that people “self isolate” and stay at home until 24 hours after body temperature is back to normal or less than 100 degrees without using medication that would lower the temperature. We encourage students to come to the Student Health Center for evaluation if they develop any concerning symptoms. A mild, lingering cough may occur. Barring any other flu symptoms, this cough should not prevent student from returning to class, but masking is recommended.
Graduate students, faculty and staff are to seek medical attention and counseling from their own primary care physician.
How long am I contagious?
You may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. Some people, especially young children and people with weakened immune systems, might be able to infect others for an even longer time.
Are there medications to take once I get the flu?
The treatment for this illness is primarily supportive, including rest, home remedies and over the counter medication to relieve symptoms. Tamiflu, an antiviral medication, is prescribed for individuals with severe symptoms, chronic medical conditions or a suppressed immune system. Tamiflu for influenza is not a cure, it only reduces symptoms and decreases length of recovery time.
What are the complications of flu?
Complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.
How can I prevent the flu?
We strongly encourage all members of the SMC community to take the standard precautions adopted during the flu season—and to play an active role in our public health prevention efforts.
Some of things you can do to protect yourself and decrease the spread of disease include:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or alcohol based hand gels, located at most common areas on campus
- Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing.
- Adequate rest
- Good nutrition
- When possible and safe, increase ventilation in your place of residence.
- Avoid large crowds in small spaces when possible.
- Self isolate if you develop flu like illness
- Do not share food, drinks or utensils
Students and parents who have questions may contact the Student Health Center at 925-631-4254. Thank you for your efforts to keep all members of the Gael Family in good health. Although we can’t eliminate the spread of this virus, our collective efforts can significantly minimize its reach and overall impact.
Most of the information below is found on the Contra Costa Health Services webpage.
Contra Costa Health Services, along with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and other agencies, are monitoring a growing outbreak of MPX cases in the United States and California. Visit the CDPH MPX tracking page for the latest information about confirmed or suspected cases of MPX in the county.
While it is good to stay alert about any emerging public health outbreaks, the current risk of getting MPX in the general public is very low, outside of certain activities that increase the chance of exposure.
MPX is a rare disease that is caused by infection with the MPX virus. It belongs to the same family of viruses as smallpox, although MPX tends to be milder than smallpox. MPX spreads to through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact, including sex and kissing. The virus can be spread from the time symptoms start until all sores, including scabs, have healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. This can take several weeks.
MPX symptoms usually start within 2 weeks of exposure to the virus. Initial symptoms are similar to flu (fever, headache, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes), followed by a rash and sores that look similar to herpes sores. The rash or sores may be located on or near the genitals or anus but could also be on other areas like the hands, feet, chest, or face.
- The sores will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing.
- The sores can look like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itchy.
- Sores may be inside the body, including the mouth, vagina, or anus.
- Avoid intimate and physical contact with anyone who has symptoms
- Talk openly with sexual partners prior to intimate physical contact
- Consider covering exposed skin in dense, indoor crowds
- Don't share bedding, clothing with others
- Stay aware if traveling to countries where there are outbreaks
The Student Health Center does not have access to the Monkeypox vaccine at this time and encourages eligible individuals to pursue vaccination through Contra Costa Health (CCH) Services. Vaccine supply is currently limited, please see the CCH website for more information on who is currently being prioritized for vaccination.
Medical Support and Testing:
The Student Health Center is here to support our students. If you have symptoms or believe you have been exposed to Monkeypox contact the Student Health Center at (925) 631-4254. One of our nurses will speak to you to determine the best next steps in regards to your medical treatment, including scheduling an appointment if indicated.
Students who are notified they have tested positive for Monkeypox outside of the Student Health Center are also asked to contact our office to report.