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Temporary Health and Safety Change 08-16-2021

Campus Communications

Temporary Change to Campus Health & Safety Policy

 

Dear Marist students,

We hope you have had a healthy and enjoyable summer and are looking forward to the fall semester.  As we get closer to the beginning of classes, we’re pleased to share the excellent news that approximately 90 percent of students, faculty, and staff have now uploaded documentation of full vaccination against the coronavirus.  Sincere thanks to all those who have taken these steps to protect the health of our college community.  The science clearly shows that vaccines remain our safest and most effective defense against the coronavirus and its variants. 

At this point, we are well on the way to reaching our ambitious goal of having 95 percent of the Marist community fully vaccinated by the beginning of the fall semester.  These high vaccination rates will allow us to enjoy most, if not all, of the activities that make the College such a special place to live, learn, and work.  These include high-quality faculty/student interactions inside and outside the classroom, in-person dining, lectures, a full athletic schedule, intramural sports, cheerleading, music, theatre, dance, and support for more than 80 student clubs and organizations.  The relaxation of gathering limits and social distancing protocols will also give campus life a welcome feeling of normalcy.  As you know, vaccinations are mandatory for all members of the Marist community, with the exception of those who have received medical or religious exemptions; these individuals are subject to additional requirements, such as regular testing and mandatory mask usage indoors, among other requirements.

Despite the great progress we’ve made, we need to be mindful of the rapid spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus, both across the nation and here in Dutchess County.  The Delta variant is particularly worrisome because it is more virulent and more easily transmissible than previous strains of the virus.  While unvaccinated individuals are especially vulnerable to serious illness and even death, so-called “breakthrough infections” of vaccinated people have also been reported.  For this reason, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is now strongly recommending the use of masks indoors by both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals in areas with “high” or “substantial” rates of COVID-19 transmission.  Dutchess County is such an area, and County officials have made a similar recommendation about wearing masks indoors.  Marist’s internal medical advisory team also supports this guidance on a temporary basis for the Marist community.  Scientific research has clearly shown that face masks provide very good protection against COVID-19 by stopping the spread of respiratory droplets released by infected individuals.  But masks work best when everyone wears one.

Accordingly, Marist is instituting a temporary and limited revision to our campus masking policy.  In addition to the mandatory masking requirement for individuals with an authorized exemption, we are temporarily extending this requirement to all members of the Marist community.  As of Wednesday, August 18, the use of masks is required in all administrative and academic buildings on campus, including the Library.  The College has a supply of masks available in each building on campus, or you may request them from the Office of Safety and Security by sending an email to PPE.requests@marist.edu

Please note that facial coverings are not required for fully vaccinated individuals in the following settings:

  • Outdoors
  • Private offices or shared work spaces where six feet of distancing can be maintained
  • Marist dormitories/residence halls and common areas
  • The McCann Center – members of the Marist community must wear a mask when entering or walking around, but facial coverings are not necessary when exercising, eating, or drinking
  • Marist’s main dining hall and cafes – members of the Marist community should be masked when entering the facility but may remove masks when eating, drinking, and socializing during the meal

The academic administration is currently consulting with faculty leadership on whether to extend this temporary masking policy to in-person classroom instruction and laboratories.  We’ll report more on the results of these discussions when they are completed. 

We again wish to stress that these rules regarding face coverings for vaccinated individuals are temporary.  As the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in our local area declines, we hope to be able to scale back these measures.  As has been the case since the beginning of the pandemic, we will closely monitor the prevailing public health conditions and adjust our response accordingly.  Most importantly, the College’s policies will continue to be based on science, data, and the best advice of medical and public health experts.

We are extremely grateful for the way in which the Marist community has stepped up to the challenges of the past year and a half, and we appreciate your continued cooperation.  While we are all weary of this pandemic, we are encouraged by signs of a recent uptick in vaccination rates nationwide.  After everything we have been through as a nation, we must believe that our collective diligence will pay off and that normal life will resume. 

The current public health situation continues to evolve quickly, and we will keep members of the Marist community updated as appropriate.  In the meantime, thank you again for your support and best wishes for the remainder of the summer.

Sincerely,

Dennis Murray, President
Geoff Brackett, Executive Vice President
Thom Wermuth, Vice President for Academic Affairs
Deb DiCaprio, Vice President for Student Affairs