COVID-19 Campus Guidelines & Regulations

These are unprecedented times, but here at Maria College we are committed to doing all we can to minimize the disruption to your education that can occur given the ever-changing circumstances we are facing. Ensuring a safe reopening and return to campus will involve all of us! Our reopening plans have focused on the safe return to campus and providing students with flexibility and options designed to meet their specific needs. We will communicate any changes to campus operations to our community via email (your mariacollege.edu account) and through this webpage.

Covid Vaccine Sites

If you live in NY state, click here to view available Covid Vaccination sites and to schedule your vaccine appointment. Albany County Department of Health is also maintaining a list of vaccine clinics available in Albany county.

“Let us take one day only in hands, at a time, merely making a resolve for tomorrow, thus we may hope to get on taking short, careful steps, not great strides.” -Catherine McAuley, Founder of the Sisters of Mercy

Important Information

Immunization Requirement: To ensure the safety of our entire campus community, Maria College will be requiring all faculty, staff, and students (except those eligible for religious or medical exemptions), to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19. This requirement will start as of August 16th. Please upload your vaccination information to ShareMy.Health, see instructions HERE.

Religious or Medical Exemptions from COVID-19 Vaccination: Maria College will allow for medical and religious exemptions from the vaccine requirement to those eligible. Students, faculty, and staff who cannot be vaccinated for COVID-19 because of a medical reason or sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance may request a medical or religious exemption by submitting a completed exemption request form to the COVID Care Coordinator at covidcare@mariacollege.edu. Both forms can be found below.

  1. Medical Exemption Request Form
  2. Religious Exemption Request Form.

Completed requests will be reviewed and a determination will be made based on the documentation submitted. Additional information or documentation may be requested to complete the process.  You will receive a determination notification to your Maria College email. If you are granted a medical or religious exemption, you will still be required to adhere to testing and mask guidance for non-vaccinated individuals.

Fully Vaccinated: If you are fully vaccinated, you only have to complete the ShareMy.Health screening before coming to campus each day

Testing Requirements: If you are not fully vaccinated, you must upload a negative test into ShareMy.Health no more than seven days old to access buildings on campus. This could mean being tested once every week.

Health Screenings: All students and employees must complete the daily health screening on the ShareMyHealth app only on days they are coming to campus to allow them campus access. Review a list of possible COVID-19 symptoms on the CDC website.

ID Badges: In order to get access into any of the buildings, you must have your ID Badge with you to swipe into the building and have the ShareMyHealth screening completed that day for the badge to work.

Face Coverings: Facial coverings for the nose and mouth are required to be worn by all community members in public spaces on campus.

Social Distancing: Social distancing is to be practiced in classrooms, public spaces, and laboratories (where feasible). Please observe all posted signage.

Hand Washing & Hygiene: Adequate hand washing is the preferred method of hand hygiene. Hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol will be available for use in all common areas when hand washing stations or sinks are not available.

Communication: Your college email account and the Blackboard (Bb) page will be the primary methods of communication on the college operations and individual courses. Be sure to check both frequently.

Student Support: All functions of the Frank E. O’Brien, Jr. Student Support Center are here to support you! Please reach out to them if you have questions or need assistance: studentaffairs@mariacollege.edu or refer to staff listing.

Hours of Operation for Frank E. O’Brien, Jr. Student Support Center:
Monday-Thursday: 8:00am-6:00pm
Friday: 8:00am-4:00pm
Weekend College: 10:00am-4:00pm

For information about Maria College’s participation in CARES Act funding, click here.

  • Safety Practices

    What practices has Maria College implemented in an attempt to protect the health of students, faculty, and staff who are on campus?

    • A COVID Task Force has been created to develop policy and procedures relating to the ongoing pandemic.
    • A Nurse Practitioner has been retained to be the College’s COVID Point-of-Care Coordinator.
    • Training for faculty and staff has been developed and implemented.
    • Most of the classes are occurring virtually to minimize presence on campus.
    • Rooms used for in-person classes have had occupancies reduced by 50% to achieve proper distancing.
    • Many of the work-related activities are occurring remotely with rotations having been established for those who are required to be on campus.
    • Signage encouraging proper distancing, mask use, and hand washing have been installed throughout the buildings of the College.
    • A valid ID card is required for entry to any of the buildings on campus.
    • Daily health screening must be performed for campus access.
    • All people coming onto campus for the Spring ‘21 semester must be initially tested within 5 days of arriving on campus for the first time and surveillance testing will occur throughout the semester.
    • Hand sanitizer stations have been widely installed across all the buildings on campus.
    • HEPA air filers have been installed in all the rooms used for in-person instruction.
    • Surfaces in rooms that have been used are sanitized after occupancy.
  • FAQ's

    How can the buildings on campus be accessed?
    A valid Maria College ID card is required for access to any of the buildings on campus. You will be required to swipe at each entry point. In order for your ID card to be activated you must have completed the daily health screening using the Share My Health app and have a negative COVID test on file within the last 7 days or uploaded proof of vaccination to share my health.

    All Student Support services have been transitioned to online and remote delivery methods and are fully accessible. If you have any questions about these services, please email studentsupport@mariacollege.edu.

    How can screening be accomplished?
    Students, faculty, and staff click the Share My Health link that arrives daily by text to answer the health screening questions. Visitors to the campus can perform the screening at a guard station when they arrive on campus.

    Why is there an exclamation point on my daily health screener?
    You need a negative COVID test or proof of vaccination on file and to take the daily health screener.

    What if I am having trouble with my Share My Health account?
    Contact the help desk: helpdesk@mariacollege.edu

    What if I fail the screening?
    You will be directed as to what you should do, e.g., contact the college’s COVID Care Coordinator at covidcare@mariacollege.edu or (518) 764-4718) or your health care provider, by the Share My Health app.

    How do I schedule a COVID test? https://acphscovidtesting.timetap.com/#/

    What do I do if I test positive for COVID?
    You will need to abide by the Department of Health guidelines. Contact the Covid Care Coordinator at covidcare@mariacollege.edu or call (518) 764-4718.

    Do I still need testing if I’ve had the COVID-19 vaccine?
    No, as long as you are fully vaccinated and are feeling well.

    Am I eligible for the COVID vaccine?
    To determine if you are eligible the COVID vaccine visit the NYS COVID-19 vaccine website.

    What do I do if I feel unwell and need to come to campus or clinical experience?
    Contact the Covid Care Coordinator, (Covidcare@mariacollege.edu; 518.764.4718)

    What do I do if I’ve been in contact with someone who has COVID-19?
    If you are fully vaccinated and you are feeling well, there is no action to be taken. If you are not fully vaccinated and have contact with someone that has COVID-19 please contact the COVID Care Coordinator at covidcare@mariacollege.edu or call (518) 764-4718.

    What is considered an exposure?
    Being within 6 feet of someone who is positive for COVID for at least 15 minutes.

    What is the difference between quarantine and isolation?
    Quarantine separates and restricts the movements of people who have been exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick. Isolation separates people sick with a contagious disease from people who are not sick. Click here for more information.

    How do I access emotional support?
    Contact Maria College Counseling Services at counseling@mariacollege.edu

    Are there accommodations available to students who are mandated to quarantine or self-isolate due to exposure or a positive test, who are identified as at higher risk for severe illness or complications from COVID-19, or who care for a household member who are identified as at higher risk for severe illness or complications from COVID-19?
    Yes, such students should contact accessibilityservices@mariacollege.edu and apply for Temporary Accommodations. Click here for more details.

    What Maria College’s face covering requirements?
    Not fully vaccinated individuals must wear a mask on campus and during school related activities. Any individual may choose to wear a mask at any time 

    Where can I find NYS travel advisory info?
    Go to the NYS Travel advisory website or call 1.888.364.3065.

    Further information about the virus can be found on the DOH’s Coronavirus website: https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/home

    Where can I get the CARES Act Disclosure Information?
    As required by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), colleges who have received Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund Student Grant funding are required to report on use of the funds received. The information can be found here.

  • COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ's

    Will the COVID-19 vaccine lead to infertility?

    While the vaccines were not tested among pregnant women for initial FDA Emergency Use Authorization in the United States, ongoing data has been collected concerning the COVID-19 vaccine and those currently pregnant and planning future pregnancies. So far, the data support the safety of the vaccine in these populations. Of babies born to those who have received the vaccine, no congenital anomalies have been reported. Those who receive the vaccine will pass on antibodies to their babies in utero and through breastmilk.

    As of this writing, are no studies linking COVID-19 VACCINATION to infertility in men who produce sperm. At present, there is no demonstrated link between COVID-19 VACCINATION and infertility.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), pregnant women are at risk of severe illness from COVID-19 infection as compared to those who are not pregnant.  The COVID-19 virus has been found to put women at an increased risk for preterm birth and at potentially higher risk for other adverse outcomes of pregnancy.

    Preliminary Findings of mRNA Covid-19 Vaccine Safety in Pregnant Persons
    You asked, we answered: Can mRNA vaccines cause infertility?

    Learn more about how pregnancy data is being collected and tracked here: Investigating the Impact of COVID-19 during Pregnancy

    Will the COVID-19 vaccine alter my DNA? 

    Our DNA makes messenger RNA, which tells our cells to manufacture certain specific proteins in our bodies. The messenger RNA only contains info to make specific proteins. The mRNA vaccines contain the mRNA instructions to create a particular spike protein. This protein encapsulates the COVID-19 virus. It is important for us to build antibodies to this spike protein to recognize COVID-19 when it enters our bodies and attack it! DNA can be found inside the nucleus of our cells. The mRNA vaccine works outside the nucleus of our cells and does not enter the nucleus!

    Is there a chance that the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine can give certain people COVID-19?

    No. Since mRNA vaccines don’t carry any live virus, the vaccine cannot cause COVID-19 infection.

    Check out this outline concerning how exactly the mRNA vaccines work: How mRNA vaccines work

    How do we know that an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to utilize the vaccine is safe since it has not been FDA approved?

    It is important to note that corners were not cut when it comes to testing vaccine safety. According to the FDA, EUA can be granted when “there are no adequate, approved, and available alternatives” for serious or life-threatening diseases. As we are currently in the midst of a public health emergency that ultimately threatens lives, the EUA of vaccines is appropriate and, ultimately, lifesaving. 

    The same rigorous safety testing was applied to developing the currently available COVID-19 vaccines. Vaccine production, research, clinical studies, and the tracking and data collection of adverse side effects were all carried out with the same rigorous standards as with any other vaccine. EUA simply means that vaccine production and administrative processes were sped up to save lives. 

    How can these processes be sped up and not compromise safety?

    The safety testing was occurring simultaneously along with the manufacturing but was completed before distribution started. Once the vaccine was deemed safe, the EUA was granted, and distribution could occur immediately. Other vaccines go through testing first and production later.   All vaccines, including the available COVID-19 vaccines, have been subjected to the same testing processes, whether they are approved for emergency use or received prior approval through a typical license, which is what we think if we hear the term “FDA approved.” See the infographic below, which highlights the difference between each of these paths to vaccine approval.

     

    Image from: What’s the Difference Between FDA Emergency Use Authorization and FDA Approval?

    Check out an overview of how EUA differs from normal vaccine approval here: What’s the Difference Between FDA Emergency Use Authorization and FDA Approval?

    Check out Emergency Use Authorizations for vaccines as explained by the FDA: Emergency Use Authorization for Vaccines Explained

    Should I be concerned with the vaccines, since a new and unknown technology is being used (mRNA)?

    Although we may not have heard about mRNA technology in the past, researchers have been working with mRNA vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna for decades.  mRNA technology has been studied for use against influenza, Zika Virus, rabies, cytomegalovirus (CMV), and utilized in cancer research.  Viral vector vaccines, such as what is used with the Johnson & Johnson vaccines have also been studied for many decades and have been studied for use against diseases such as the Zika virus, influenza, HIV, and more recently, Ebola Virus Disease.

    For more information on mRNA and viral vector technology, check out these sites:

    Understanding mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines
    Understanding Viral Vector COVID-19 Vaccines

    Will I have a hyper immune response to the vaccine?

    Some concerns have centered on whether receiving the vaccine will lead to a hyperimmune response or “cytokine storm,” where a person would develop more severe illness if they encounter the live COVID-19 virus after receiving the vaccine.  This is also known as Antibody-Dependent Enhancement (ADE), or when antibodies created during a first-time infection could result in disease enhancement instead of protecting against subsequent infections.

     Scientists accounted for this when developing the COVID-19 vaccines.  In short, not one case of ADE was seen in animal models or human clinical trials.  As we know, hundreds of millions of people have received the COVID-19 vaccine thus far, and we have seen no signs of ADE with exposure to the virus after vaccination,  even among the variant strains in circulation.    

    Check out the resources below which address this topic further

    Antibody-dependent Enhancement (ADE) and Vaccines
    COVID-19 Vaccines: Should We Fear ADE?
    Antibody-Dependent Enhancement and the Coronavirus Vaccines

    The Vatican’s doctrinal office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), has made a determination concerning Catholics receiving the vaccine.  The Vatican has determined that it is “morally acceptable” for Catholics receive the COVID-19 vaccines.  Please see the article below for more information on this:

    Catholic Moral Teaching and Tradition on COVID-19 Vaccines

    The Vatican statement on the use of COVID-19 vaccines involving fetal cell lines:

    Note on the morality of using some anti-Covid-19 vaccines

    Do the vaccines contain microchips?

    No!  Some syringes may contain a microchip on the outside, which is used for scanning into a digital health record.  This cannot enter your body.  For a full listing of the ingredients in each of the vaccines, which can differ by manufacturer, please visit the sites below:

    For Pfizer- BioNTec: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine Overview and Safety

    For Moderna: Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Overview and Safety

    For Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen: Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine Overview and Safety

    To answer additional questions that you may have concerning the vaccines, please visit the CDC webpage: Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 Vaccination