Questions and Answers

Saint Mary’s University has compiled the following answers to questions you may have.

What is the university’s policy on masking on campus?
Due to concerns about the omicron variant,  masks are required inside all university buildings and all university vehicles.

Can face shields be used instead of masks?
Face shields may be used in addition to cloth face masks or face coverings but not as a replacement.

Will warnings or sanctions be issued against students and staff who don't wear masks as required?
Yes. However, the most effective way to encourage individuals to wear masks is to ask them to do so directly and politely. This was the purpose of our pledge, “Protect myself and others in a spirit of generosity. I will keep myself and those around me safe from COVID-19 by wearing a mask, conducting a daily self-screening for COVID-19 symptoms, using hand sanitizer, washing my hands frequently, practicing social distancing, and participating in contact tracing programs as necessary.”

What about our external partners who work on campus?
We expect all who work on campus to follow Saint Mary’s protocols.

Is the university requiring the COVID-19 vaccination?
With full FDA approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, Saint Mary’s University expects all students, faculty, and staff to be vaccinated, unless an exemption is filed. We asked everyone, in good faith, to fill out proof of vaccination or a medical or non-medical exemption form by Oct. 8.

Is the university providing exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccine requirement?
Yes, the university is providing medical and non-medical exemptions for students and employees consistent with Minnesota statutes. A medical exemption is available if the vaccination is medically contraindicated. A non-medical exemption is available if the COVID-19 vaccination is against your beliefs.

How were students notified about the COVID-19 vaccination requirement?
Students were notified about the decision to require a COVID-19 vaccination upon FDA approval on Aug. 4, 2021, via email and in CommUNITY, our previous e-newsletter. Students were notified of the expectation that all students, faculty, staff be vaccinated, unless an exemption is filed on Aug. 23, 2021, via email and in CommUNITY. We announced information about the health portal on Sept. 1, 2021, via CommUNITY. Reminders of the vaccination requirement were included in Saint Mary’s Today, our current e-newsletter, on Sept. 29, 2021, Oct. 5, 2021, and Oct. 8, 2021. In addition, notification was placed in Canvas for all graduate and professional students. Information is also included on the university’s COVID-19 website and in its Questions and Answers on that website. Students who were noncompliant were sent two emails during the week of Oct. 11, 2021, from covid@smumn.edu outlining the need to comply and potential consequences for failure to do so.

What are the consequences for failure to comply with the COVID-19 vaccination requirement?
While we hope all students an employees complete the process, a failure to comply with the requirements — providing proof of vaccination or a completed exemption — may result in the following actions by the university:

Students:

  • Registration holds placed on course and housing registration until compliance is achieved
  • $100 a week fine placed on a student’s account until compliance, end of the term, or withdrawal, whichever comes first
  • Holds placed on the release of transcripts

Employees:

  • Oral reprimand
  • Written reprimand
  • Other consequences as outlined in the employee handbook

Where does it state that students will be charged $100 a week for noncompliance with the COVID-19 vaccination requirement?
This fine was outlined in an article in Saint Mary’s Today article on Sept. 29, 2021.

Where do I go for help if my image to upload was too large or something went wrong with the uploading process?
Contact the HelpDesk at 507-457-7800 or helpdesk@smumn.edu.

I am having difficulty logging into the health portal. What should I do?

  • Be sure you are using your Saint Mary’s credentials to login.
  • Use your login username only (without “@smumn.edu").
  • If you are still having issues, contact the HelpDesk at 507-457-7800 or helpdesk@smumn.edu.

I logged into the health portal but do not see any forms to complete under “My Forms.”
Please try logging in using a different web browser.

How do I confirm my vaccination information/exemption has been received?

  • Login to your health portal and select “My Profile.”
  • Select "Immun. History."
  • Download your immunization record.
  • If your COVID-19 immunization record/exemption is not immediately visible, please allow three business days and then contact us if it is still not reflected in your “Immun. History.”

I am not a current student (e.g., I have stopped out; I am working on my dissertation). Will noncompliance fines be assessed against me?
We will work to remove any fines that may have been imposed on your student account due to noncompliance with our COVID-19 vaccination requirement. Please note, you will need to comply with this vaccination requirement if you elect to register for classes in the future. Thus, a registration hold will be placed on your account. You will need to either file proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or file an exemption from that requirement.  

What is the vaccination proof process? What do I need to provide?
Students, faculty, and staff should log in to the health portal using their Saint Mary’s username and password.

Once logged in:

  1. Select “My Forms” and then click “COVID-19 Immunization History.”
  2. Select the type of vaccination and date(s) received.
  3. Upload an image of your vaccination card (i.e., a picture from your phone).
  4. Click “Submit”.

All documentation related to this process is self-service and will be managed through the health portal. Individuals are required to file proof of vaccination or a certification of exemption.

What is the vaccination exemption process?
Students, faculty, and staff should log in to the health portal using their Saint Mary’s username and password.

Once logged in:

  1. Select “My Forms” and then click “COVID-19 Immunization History.”
  2. Access forms to obtain a medical or non-medical exemption.
  3. Upload completed forms (i.e., a picture from your phone).
    1. Medical exemptions will require a doctor’s statement.
    2. Non-medical exemptions will require a notarized signature.
  4. Click “Submit”.

Where can I find a notary public?
Local banks and post offices are the best places to find a notary public. In Minnesota, you can find a notary public in your area by using Find a Notary. In Wisconsin, you can find a notary public in your area by using the WI Notary Public Search. Narrow your search using a city and a zip code. In Illinois, you can find a notary public in your area using the IL Notary Public Search. A Google search with "Find a notary in (insert appropriate states)" will result in similar notary search services by state.

Will my exemption form be challenged or reviewed for acceptance?
Your exemption form will only be reviewed to assure it is accurately executed and notarized, as appropriate. It will not be challenged or reviewed for acceptance based on content.

What if I (or my son or daughter) tested positive for COVID-19 and have antibody immunity? Is the vaccine required?
You are still required to submit proof of a vaccination or file an exemption.

Will I have to fill out an exemption form again in second semester or next academic year?
At this point, it is unlikely that you will be required to complete an exemption form for second semester. No decision has yet been made on whether you will be required to complete the exemption form yearly. Please keep an eye on our newsletters and emails, as we will be in communication as more information is available.

If I am a student taking all of my classes online, do I need to be vaccinated?
Yes, if you are an online only student, we still require a vaccine unless you file for a medical or non-medical exemption. Many of our online students do come on campus for student services, events, commencement, or other reasons.

Do course-contracted faculty members or student advisers who are doing all teaching or advising online need to be vaccinated?
Yes. Those working fully online are still required to file proof of vaccination or an exemption. Since we are requiring the vaccination or an exemption for our fully online students, we believe the online faculty and advisers should be treated similarly. Some of our online faculty and advisers come to campus for academic resources, events, commencement, or other reasons.

If I am vaccinated, will I still have to quarantine if I am a close contact of someone who tests positive for COVID-19? What if I am vaccinated but test positive?
Fully vaccinated individuals are not required to quarantine. Fully vaccinated people who have come into close contact with someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 must be tested 3-5 days after exposure and wear a mask indoors and outdoors for 14 days. Vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals who test positive should isolate for 10 days.

Can I get any of the vaccines?
While technically any of the vaccines meets the vaccination requirements, as a Lasallian Catholic university, it is important to offer the guidance and the perspective of the Catholic Church on vaccines. As such, the following resources may be helpful:

What if I’ve lost my vaccination card?
You can obtain your COVID-19 vaccination records through the Minnesota Immunization Information Connection. In Illinois, you can access your COVID-19 vaccination record through the Illinois resident Immunization Portal. In Wisconsin, you can access your COVID-19 vaccination record through the Wisconsin Immunization Registry.

Will my professors (or my supervisors) know if I am not vaccinated?
The university does not intend to share a student’s vaccination status with a professor or supervisor, nor does it intend to share an employee’s vaccination status with supervisors.

Where can I get vaccinated?

Why did the university decide to implement a COVID-19 vaccine requirement once Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval was obtained?
This decision is based on the most current information we have about COVID-19:

  • COVID-19 cases are increasing in Minnesota. A significant portion of the new positive COVID-19 cases in the state are attributed to the delta variant.
  • The delta variant is more easily transmissible which is of great concern to us as our students live in what can be considered congregate care setting. Also, the delta variant is causing more severe illness in unvaccinated individuals.
  • When we made the decision not to require the COVID-19 vaccination, we did so because the vaccine had been approved under an Emergency Use Authorization. Accordingly, we decided to implement a COVID-19 vaccine requirement once the vaccine received full FDA approval.
  • The COVID-19 vaccine is the best protection against the spread of COVID-19.
  • We hope the COVID-19 vaccination requirement will help us reach 85% to 90% vaccination status on campus, which will allow us to begin a return to normal operations.
  • Hennepin, Olmsted, and Winona counties are all counties of substantial COVID-19 transmission per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Over 600 colleges and universities across the country currently have COVID-19 vaccination requirements.
  • The majority of the Minnesota Private College Council schools have COVID-19 vaccine requirements in place currently (Augsburg University, Carleton College, College of Saint Benedict, Gustavus Adolphus College, Hamline University, Macalester College, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Saint John's University, St. Catherine University, Saint Olaf College, and University of St. Thomas).
  • While we have an obligation to protect our students, we also have an obligation to protect our employees, many of whom have children under the age of 12 who are at risk for COVID-19.

If I come to Saint Mary's, will I be forced to withdraw if I choose to not be vaccinated?
You will not be forced to withdraw. You will be required to file a medical or non-medical exemption. See above.

Will you be doing regular COVID-19 testing?
The Wellness Center will be conducting surveillance testing of random sample of 10% of our unvaccinated student body, beginning the second week of school. Staff will be conducting this testing. More information will be forthcoming.

I am having difficulty uploading my documents to the health portal. What should I do?
Please make sure that you are accessing the health portal using your Saint Mary’s username and password. If you continue to have difficulties, contact the HelpDesk at 507-457-7800 or helpdesk@smumn.edu.

Will I be able to commence if I am not fully vaccinated?
Students who are fully vaccinated will be able to process at commencement. The university may require masking or a negative COVID-19 test for unvaccinated students. More information will be provided well in advance of commencement dates in January and June 2022.

Are classes on the Twin Cities and Rochester campuses in person or online?

A hybrid approach is being offered, allowing some in-person and some online instruction. Students can check the course schedule in the student portal or check with their program director if they have any questions about academic delivery for a particular course.

What will change in terms of events?
We are monitoring the situation daily and will make determinations weekly related to in-person event gatherings. Appropriate announcements about events will be made each week, and all fall COVID-19 protocols will be implemented for events. We ask our community to be in full compliance.

What should I do if I or someone close to me (e.g., roommate, family member, close contact) tests positive for COVID-19?
Students should report a positive COVID-19 test to Health Services at 507-457-1492. Health Services will arrange isolation housing. Students are not permitted to leave their isolation housing for 10 days. Students who are a close contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19 should also notify Health Services. Health Services will arrange quarantine housing. Students are not permitted to leave their quarantine housing for 14 days. See quarantine guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health.

What resources are available to assist with mental health?
Students at the College in Winona have access to counselors in the Jay Johnson Wellness Center. Learn more.

Do I need to wear a mask while in my office?
Masks are encouraged, but not required, when employees are working in their office alone.

Will we be going to remote work again?
We will not be returning to remote work at this time. Until and unless we receive additional guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Minnesota Department of Health, our current work arrangements remain in place.

I have children at home and am not comfortable working in the office. What can I do?
Our current protocols are meant to mitigate risk. That said, if you require a special accommodation, please contact Human Resources to discuss the process of requesting an accommodation.

What should I do if I or a family member/close contact tests positive for COVID-19?
Employees who test positive for COVID-19 should notify Human Resources. They are required to stay home for 10 days. Employees who are a close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 should also notify Human Resources. They are required to stay home for 14 days. See quarantine guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health.

Is COVID-19 testing available to faculty and staff?
Visit the Minnesota Department of Health to find a COVID-19 testing location in Minnesota. COVID-19 testing is not available to faculty and staff through Health Services. We have limited health staff there whose efforts need to be focused on students.

Does Blue Cross Blue Shield require a COVID-19 test be ordered by a doctor in order for it to be covered by insurance?
No. However, the test does need to be administered by a healthcare professional (Dr., PA, RN) for it to be covered by insurance.

What protocol should be used to enforce mask use in classrooms and hallways — specifically, if students refuse to leave when asked?
The faculty member should speak with the student about the requirement to wear masks in class and give the student the opportunity to comply. If a student refuses to comply and will not depart from the classroom, the faculty member should call Campus Safety at 507-457-1703 or hit the Campus Safety button on the classroom phone to remove the student from class.

Upon arrival to the classroom, Campus Safety will speak to the faculty member to find out which student(s) are refusing to wear masks. Faculty members should understand that by calling Campus Safety, the student will likely be removed from class.

Campus Safety staff will then approach the student(s), if safe to do so, and explain that the student(s) must leave the classroom and building. Campus Safety staff will explain that the student’s failure to mask is a violation of university policy. Only students with masks may participate in in-person classes. If the student resides on campus, the Campus Safety officer will direct the student to return to his or her residence hall room. If the student resides off-campus, the Campus Safety officer will direct the students to leave campus. The student will be advised that they may not return to classes until such time as the student is wearing a mask.

The Office of Student Affairs will meet with the student. The Student Success Center will also be contacted as the student’s absence from class will be considered an unexcused absence.

In the event the situation escalates and requires law enforcement or emergency personnel, the administrator-on-call will be contacted.

What is the protocol for a student, faculty, or staff testing positive? Who will be required to quarantine and or isolate?
These protocols are on the Human Resources section of Inside Pages. Any employees or student who is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or has had a positive COVID-19 test must isolate until the following occur:

  • At least 24 hours have passed with no fever without fever-reducing medications; AND
  • At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared; AND
  • The student or the employee feels better meaning, any cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms are better.

Any employee or student who has been exposed to someone with COVID-19 must quarantine for 14 days.

All employees are required to report COVID-19 symptoms or positive COVID-19 tests to Human Resources. All students are required to report COVID-19 symptoms or positive COVID-19 tests to the Wellness Center. If the employee is asymptomatic, the employee may work from home.

What is the procedure if a family member is required to get tested or quarantine?
If a family member is required to take a COVID-19 test or quarantine, the employee should follow any guidance from contact tracers. In all likelihood, the employee would be a close contact of the family member and would be required to quarantine. The employee should contact Human Resources at hr@smumn.edu or 507-457-1508.

What resources are available to assist with mental health?
The Cigna Life Assistance & Work/Life Support Program is available 24/7 at cignalap.com or 1-800-538-3543. Three face-to-face sessions with a behavioral counselor for you and your household members are available to employees.

If a faculty member is extremely fearful of teaching face to face but has no underlying conditions, what resources or recourse is available to them?
They should contact Human Resources for information. The university will grant reasonable accommodations to employees who qualify for such accommodations under the Amercians with Disabilities Act.

Will instructors have their own discretion to change their class format to online even after the semester starts/in the middle of the semester?
The goal (for the College) is to have face-to-face sessions as space and social distancing allows. In situations where this is not possible, then leveraging a CardinalFlex model or fully online model is the desired approach. Faculty must consult with their dean and obtain their dean’s approval before moving any course fully online. Occasional synchronous sessions are fine, but faculty need to let students know that as far in advance as possible and should consider recording and posting those sessions for students who cannot attend.

If a full-time faculty member contracts the virus and is unable to teach for six weeks, will they still receive their salary and benefits? How will their classes be covered for that length of time? Will the substitute professor be compensated for their additional workload? What about an adjunct faculty who becomes ill or is needed to substitute?
A full-time faculty member would be entitled to paid sick leave for any period of time they are not working due to COVID-19. Any substitute professors would be compensated for any additional workload. We will determine class coverage on a case-by-case basis.

An adjunct faculty member would not have sick leave afforded to them, so they would not be paid if they cannot teach. The substitute would be paid instead.

Can faculty take their class on field trips this semester?
Yes, but masking would be required of all students during the field trip unless it is outdoors. In addition, masking would be required in any university vehicle. Occupancy limits in vehicles are reduced so faculty should plan accordingly.

Are off-campus service projects permitted this semester?
Yes, but masking would be required of all students during the service project unless it is outdoors. In addition, masking would be required in any university vehicle. Occupancy limits in vehicles are reduced so faculty or staff should plan accordingly.