The presence of new COVID variants, combined with decreasing adherence to safety measures, are creating a “fourth wave” of infections across the US and Maine, even as vaccinations are being distributed more widely than ever.
This wave is now very close to reaching our shores.
Yesterday the Maine CDC reported 250 new cases across the state. Today it’s jumped to over 400.
Just to our north, Bates College had one positive case last week. Today they have over 85 people in isolation and quarantine. Their campus is in a full lockdown.
Just to our south, the University of New England has been in a similar lockdown situation, with all students learning online.
We cannot wait to let this next wave of COVID crash over us. We must prepare in advance, not react once it’s here. Once again, we will be stepping up our safety measures, using the tools we have available to keep our community here and safe.
However, we do not believe that locking down campus completely will achieve the best results at this time. Instead, we are instituting the following measures, effective Monday morning, to contain any possible outbreak and limit the effect on current campus operations. As always, we will remain flexible – if more needs to be done, we will respond quickly and thoughtfully.
These changes affect everyone at SJC: students, faculty, and staff. Please read them carefully.
- Effective immediately, Campus Safety will issue a $50.00 citation to any member of the community not wearing a mask in a public area.
- Residential students will be tested 3 times per week for the next two weeks. Please arrive at the Health and Wellness Center between 9am and Noon. The schedule:
- Seniors and Freshman will be tested Monday, Wednesday & Friday.
- Sophomores and Juniors will be tested Tuesday, Thursday, & Saturday.
- Commuter students will continue their weekly testing regime as scheduled.
- Student workers in essential departments (see last item under Faculty/Staff) will continue working. Other students may continue working remotely if possible based on the nature of the work – please check with your supervisor.
- Interhall travel restrictions and other measures will be considered as necessary.
- The following common areas have been identified as particularly vulnerable for crowds and safety infractions:
- The Fish Bowl
- Mercy Green
- The Quad Green
- Ballfield Lot and Hill (during athletic events)
- Turf Field Hill (during athletic events)
- Residence hall common areas
- Effective immediately, Campus Safety will establish a regular presence, including a Campus Safety vehicle, in the Fish Bowl area and will provide round rotation between Mercy Green and The Quad Green. Monitoring of the ballfield lot/hill and turf field hill will be stepped up during athletic contests. Routine camera monitoring of all parking lots will be used to prevent large outdoor gatherings.
- Campus Safety will also continue to monitor residential hall common areas and halls and will assist Residential Life staff as requested.
- If mask adherence, social distancing, and large gatherings continue to be a problem in these spaces, the PRT will close them indefinitely.
- NOTE: Overflow dining areas in Mercy Hall are now closed.
- During the next two weeks, campus operations will be limited to:
- Faculty for in-person classroom instruction
- Staff who are classified as essential personnel
- All non-essential personnel are asked to telecommute to reduce the amount of staff on campus during this period of time.
- COVID-19 testing will be required for all on campus faculty and the essential staff working on campus. Testing will be conducted weekly for the next two weeks. Email reminders will be sent from Human Resources later today to the faculty and essential staff who need to be tested weekly through April 16th. This testing will be conducted on the day of the week the employee originally selected for testing.
- All non-essential staff will be required to complete re-entry testing before returning to campus. This means the employee must provide a negative test within 72 hours of returning to campus from an external testing site, and reentry testing at the Health & Wellness Center before resuming work on campus the day of the return.
- NOTE: Essential personnel include members of the following departments: Facilities Management, Campus Safety, Pearson’s Café, Payroll (during payroll weeks only), Campus Life, Library, and Athletics. The PRT has identified a few other personnel in this category who will be notified.
Saint Joe’s, we are now five weeks from the end of the school year. So close. This rise in virus infection may test us, but we know how strong we can be when we stick together. Please be extra vigilant, and hold yourselves and your fellow Monks to our community pledge: that we will look out for each other, and take care of each other.