Spring 2022 Plans
With the spring semester rapidly approaching, we write to you today with more information about our plans for the upcoming term. We last communicated to you on December 22 that we are focused on delivering an in-person educational experience with the full range of extracurricular activities this upcoming semester while also protecting the health and welfare of those in the Marist community, Poughkeepsie, and the surrounding region. We are pleased to report that this remains our approach.
However, in just the few short weeks since we sent our last message to you, the proliferation of the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus - globally, regionally, and locally - has been dramatic, and even exponential. It is now the dominant strain nationwide. Thankfully, while Omicron has proven to be vastly more transmissible than prior strains, its impacts generally have been less severe. This is especially the case for vaccinated individuals who have received a booster.
That said, this is not the time to let our guard down as the COVID-19 pandemic remains a serious threat to public health. Keeping everyone as safe as possible during this ongoing pandemic, especially on a college campus, requires a high degree of vigilance and a collective commitment from everyone in our community to a variety of health and safety protocols. In making these determinations, we have consulted extensively with public health experts and officials at the federal, state, county, and local levels. We also remained mindful of the need to balance measures to guard against COVID-19 with a focus on mental health and wellbeing and optimization of learning outcomes.
As a result, our primary strategies involve vaccination, masking, and symptomatic testing. Each element of this approach is described below:
1. Mandated COVID-19 Booster
As previously communicated, Marist College is requiring that all members of our campus community who are eligible per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, obtain a COVID-19 booster by Monday, January 31, 2022. Anyone who is not yet eligible for a booster as per CDC guidelines prior to this deadline must receive their booster within 30 days of becoming eligible. Individuals who have already received their COVID-19 booster should upload documentation HERE.
Individuals who were previously approved for a medical or religious exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine requirement will retain their exemptions. New medical exemptions that document that the COVID-19 booster will be detrimental to the individual’s health or is otherwise medically contraindicated will be accepted until January 21, 2022, at 5:00 p.m.
Those who wish to explore courses that are available online should look at my.Marist.edu or contact their advisor for possibilities. Those who wish to defer attendance for the semester should contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 845-575-3500.
2. Mandatory and Enhanced Masking Requirements
Mask wearing continues to be one of the most effective ways to reduce transmission of COVID-19. For this reason, and pursuant to New York State regulations, all members of the Marist community are required to wear masks at all times while indoors. Where possible, individuals are encouraged to double mask (we recommend a surgical mask covered with a cloth mask), wear a KN-95 mask, or if appropriate, an N95 respirator. Single-layer cloth masks are not as effective at preventing transmission and should be avoided.
Marist College has purchased additional supplies of all masks, and they are available upon request through the Office of Safety and Security. Face coverings can be requested by emailing: PPE.email@example.com.
Masks may only be removed in the following circumstances:
- Within individual residence hall rooms
- Working alone in single occupancy spaces with the door closed
- While eating or drinking and seated. If eating with others, put your mask back on immediately when done eating, and maintain physical distance while socializing at the table, if possible.
3. Isolation and Quarantine Requirements
Marist College will adopt CDC, state, and local guidelines for isolation and quarantine of the general population following COVID-19 infection or exposure. For students who live far away or otherwise cannot return to their home environment, we have a limited amount of on-campus space for isolation or quarantine. These guidelines are outlined below:
- Confirmed COVID-19 infection: Individuals with COVID-19 must complete an isolation period and meet the following criteria before release from isolation:
- Isolate for a minimum of 5 full days, followed by strict mask wearing for 5 additional days (day 0 is the day of symptom onset, or day of the positive test if asymptomatic). Those unable to wear a well-fitting mask at all times must isolate for a full 10 days.
- If symptoms are present, they must be improving or resolved
- Complete a clearance assessment with Marist Health Services, who will make the final determination on when the student will be released from isolation. Determination will include factors such as living arrangement and ability to mask 24/7, among others.
All students will be required to adhere to a strict mask-wearing protocol after release from isolation until 10 days have passed since the date of COVID diagnosis.
Requirements After Close-Contact Exposure to COVID-19:
- For unvaccinated individuals and those not fully vaccinated (less than 14 days after the final vaccine dose in the series):
- Quarantine for 5 days after exposure
- Strict mask-wearing after release from quarantine through 10 days after exposure
- Obtain a viral test (rapid antigen or PCR) on day 5 after exposure (recommended, not required)
- Complete a clearance assessment with Health Services, who will make the final determination on when the student will be released from isolation
- Self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days after exposure
- For all others (fully vaccinated, whether with the booster or not):
- Strict mask-wearing for 10 days following exposure (includes masking in outdoor spaces when around others).
- Obtain a viral test (rapid antigen or PCR) on day 5 after exposure (recommended not required).
- Self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days after exposure.
- For all exposed individuals: If any symptoms of COVID-19 develop during the 14 days after exposure, individuals should immediately quarantine until a negative test confirms the symptoms are not due to COVID-19.
Students who must isolate or quarantine should contact their faculty to develop a plan to stay current on coursework. Faculty and the Center for Advising and Academic Services Office will assist, as needed.
4. Mandatory Surveillance Testing
Weekly mandatory surveillance testing will be required for individuals with Marist-approved and documented medical or religious exemptions. Testing will occur at 51 Fulton Street on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 8:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
As a reminder, students with approved medical or religious exemptions must complete arrival testing at 51 Fulton Street during one of the following two times:
- Sunday, January 16, from 3:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
- Monday, January 17, from 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
5. Marist COVID-19 Alert Level at Orange
Marist has elevated its COVID-19 Alert Level to the Orange status, the details of which are available HERE. Key elements of this level are:
Events and special programs where outside guests may be present, such as performances and athletic events, will operate at 50% capacity. Physical distancing may be required.
No food or drink may be served at campus events.
Visitors will not be permitted in the residence halls (with the exception of brief forms of assistance during move-in).
6. Recommended Pre-Arrival Test
Marist College strongly recommends that all students obtain a negative COVID-19 viral test prior to returning to campus to minimize the risk of community spread and the need to enter isolation. It is the responsibility of all community members to minimize the spread of COVID-19 to the Marist campus, and testing is the best way to identify those individuals who are actively infected with the virus. If you have experienced any symptoms in January, you must test before returning to campus.
Students are personally responsible for reporting positive results to Health Services. If your test is positive, you should complete isolation at home prior to returning to campus and follow the isolation protocols detailed above.
Omicron is a fast-moving situation, and there is some evidence globally that cases eventually decline after initial spikes. We are eager to return to a greater degree of normalcy and will continue to watch caseloads and patterns closely. When the situation allows, we will ease these restrictions to the greatest degree possible.
We look forward to seeing you on campus in the coming weeks.
Geoff Brackett, Executive Vice President
Thom Wermuth, Vice President for Academic Affairs
Deb DiCaprio, Vice President for Student Affairs