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Health and Safety


Overview

Thomas College is committed to providing a safe campus environment for all faculty staff and students. Thomas invites and expects all members of the campus community to assist in exercising and respecting the range of risk mitigation strategies that are designed to promote a healthy campus, recognizing that individual actions help contribute to the community’s overall experience. The College intends to follow local, state and federal guidelines, to provide support to the members of the community, to remain flexible to respond to changing circumstances, and to communicate with the campus on an ongoing basis.

Daily Screenings
Individuals will continue to self-screen before coming to campus. If someone is symptomatic, they should remain off campus (residents remain in their room), contact Human Resources (employees) or the Health Center (students), and obtain a COVID test off-campus (as necessary).


Masks, Face Shields, and Social Distancing

Thomas College reserves the right to change this policy and require mask/face coverings, regardless of vaccination status, if a situation/event warrants its use in the interest of community safety. 

See paragraphs below for more information about these policies and exceptions. Individuals who may need to seek accommodations for this requirement are required to contact either Michelle Joler-Labbe at michelle.jolerlabbe@thomas.edu (for faculty and staff) or Lisa Desautels-Poliquin (for students) at lisa.desautelspoliquin@thomas.edu for more information.

Face Masks

Fully vaccinated students, faculty, and staff are not required to wear masks on campus unless required at a large attendance event (as determined and communicated in advance by the college). Facial coverings are optional for fully vaccinated employees based on comfort level.

Students, faculty, and staff who are not fully vaccinated and all guests are required to wear facial coverings/masks inside all buildings at all times

Acceptable Face Masks:  The College considers a 3-ply (or 3-layered material), non-vented facemask to be in compliance with our policy.  Face masks with exhalation valves or vents do not prevent the person wearing the mask from transmitting COVID-19 to others and Maine CDC does not recommend using these masks.  Therefore, vented masks are not permitted for use on campus and considered out of compliance with our face mask policy.

Other mask types including but not limited to:  Gators, bammies, bandannas, and handkerchiefs are not as effective or protective as a 3-ply (or 3-layered) face mask and are not recommended to be used on campus.

Proper Wear of a Facemask:   A mask is only effective as a preventative measure when worn over both the mouth and nose.  Wearing a mask below the nose is not acceptable and any individual wearing their mask in such a fashion will be considered out of compliance with our face mask policy.

General Facemask Exceptions:

Unvaccinated students, faculty, and staff are required to always wear masks/face coverings inside all buildings. Exceptions include:

  • When alone in an individual office/space.
  • When alone and/or with one’s roommate in their own room.
  • Within the Dining Center, Jeanie’s Café and Dog Pound, face coverings/masks can be removed only while seated at a table for the purpose of eating.

Athletic Exception:  Only during official Thomas College athletic practices and events athletes are exempt from the 3-ply (or 3-layered material) mandate.  The moment an athlete leaves the playing field, they are required to replace their athletic bammie with a 3-ply (or 3-layered) facemask that covers both the mouth and nose.  Please note that any unofficial athletic activities (e.g. a pick-up game of basketball in the gym) still require a 3-ply (or 3-layered) mask worn by all participants as defined by the above policies.

Face Shields

Face shields may be an alternative for those individuals with medical, behavioral, or other challenges who are unable to wear masks/face coverings. Students or employees seeking an accommodation to use a face shield should contact Lisa Desautels-Poliquin, VP Student Affairs, or Michelle Joler-Labbe, Chief HR Officer, respectively to discuss individual situations.

Face Shield Exception: Face shields may be used by a faculty member when teaching class from the front of the room. The faculty member will need to wear a face mask into the class and replace with the shield when at the front of the room if required by the above policies. Likewise, faculty should remove their shield and replace with a face mask when leaving the room. In the auditorium only, individuals (faculty/students) may use face shields when presenting from the stage and socially distancing.

Face shields worn in place of a face covering must extend below the chin and back to the ears.

Social Distancing (6-feet)
All social distancing requirements – indoors and outdoors – have been lifted.


Testing policy

All unvaccinated students and employees must participate in the Thomas College campus testing program. This includes students and employees in the process of getting vaccinated but have not met the definition of “fully vaccinated” and those with approved exemptions. All individuals new to Thomas College this fall participating in the campus testing program must first sign a consent form by logging into their myThomas account. Unvaccinated students and employees who do not consent to testing will not be allowed on campus for any reason. Testing will be once a week. Testing information can be found posted on TVs, listed on the Thomas College homepage, and through email communications.

Positive Test Protocol:

Unvaccinated students and employees who test positive or are exposed would need to isolate or quarantine according to CDC guidelines.

Fully vaccinated students and employees who come into close contact with someone suspected or confirmed for COVID-19 need to test 3-5 days after exposure, and to wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result. Fully vaccinated students or employees who test positive for COVID-19 must follow CDC guidelines and isolate for 10 days.

PLEASE NOTE: All students (regardless of vaccination status) who are required to quarantine or isolate will need to make their own arrangements to do so off-campus. Limited exceptions will be coordinated as needed.

The actual testing will be self-administered (while observed by a trained professional), and is the less-invasive, front interior of the nose test.
Do I need to pay for COVID-19 testing?
Students, faculty, and staff will not be charged for testing.
How the testing process be administered?

Under the guidance of the Health Center, the College has hired dedicated staff to oversee the development of our testing schedule and collection site on campus.  The actual testing will be self-administered (while observed by a trained professional), and is the less-invasive, front interior of the nose test.

How is my privacy around testing being protected?
The transmission of testing information is via a secured system.  Negative test results will be sent from the testing company via email to the student as well as the Health Center.  Any result that is positive, invalid, or unable to be processed will be sent to the Health Center who will follow up directly with the student.  Any positive test results will be sent automatically to Maine CDC.


Isolation and Quarantine Definitions

Close Contact/Exposed: Generally defined as being within 6 feet of an infected person for more than 15 minutes over a 24-hour time frame

Quarantine: When you separate people from others because they may have been exposed or in close contact to the COVID-19 virus but are not currently symptomatic

Isolation: When you separate people who are infected with the virus (with or without symptoms) from people who are not infected


Vaccine FAQ

All in-person students, faculty, and staff are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is the single biggest risk mitigation act a community member can take.

Someone is considered “fully vaccinated” two weeks after receiving the second Pfizer or Moderna shot, or two weeks after receiving a single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine AND their vaccination(s) are on file with Thomas College. All others are considered unvaccinated.

Student Guidance:

  • All students who attend classes on campus must be partially or fully vaccinated against COVID-19 AND have submitted their vaccination cards to the Health Center BEFORE you arrive on campus, NO LATER THAN Tuesday, August 31, 2021.
  • Students who are partially vaccinated upon their arrival to campus will be required to follow all College mitigation protocols (masking indoors, routine testing, etc.) until they are deemed fully vaccinated.
  • All vaccine doses must be administered by Thursday, September 30, 2021
  • The College will allow limited vaccine exemptions. Students, please contact the Health Center for more information.

Faculty and Staff Guidance:

    • All faculty and staff must be partially or fully vaccinated against COVID-19 AND have submitted their vaccination cards to Human Resources NO LATER THAN Tuesday, August 31, 2021.
    • All faculty and staff who are not fully vaccinated will be required to follow all College mitigation protocols (masking in-doors, routine testing, etc.) until they are deemed fully vaccinated.
    • All vaccine doses must be administered by Thursday, September 30, 2021.
    • The College will allow limited vaccine exemptions. Faculty and staff, please contact Human Resources for more information.

Q: Why are we required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine? 

A: COVID-19 vaccination is the best form of prevention to stop the spread of COVID-19 and slow the speed of new variants. Currently authorized vaccinations provide a high level of protection, reduce the severity of illness in those who are vaccinated, and reduce the likelihood of spread.

Q: When is the latest I can be vaccinated and still be eligible to come to campus for the fall?

A: Students arriving on campus before August 31, 2021, must begin the vaccination process prior to their arrival. All other community members should begin the vaccination process no later than August 31, 2021 to ensure adequate time to get their second shot (if applicable) by September 30, 2021 to be considered fully-vaccinated in early October.

Q: The vaccine I was considering is still under Emergency Use Authorization, can’t this wait?

A: The COVID-19 virus, and specifically the highly contagious Delta variant, are spreading faster than ever, creating what experts refer to as a “pandemic of the unvaccinated,” allowing the virus to continue to spread and mutate. While we are confident that final approval may come in the next few months for more of the vaccines in use, we know now that the vaccine data has fully supported the safety and efficacy to prevent disease and reduce its severity.

Q: Where can I find an available vaccination clinic? 

A: Vaccines are widely available in Maine. You can find locations and schedule an appointment at https://www.maine.gov/covid19/vaccines/vaccination-sites

Q: Where can I find more information on vaccine safety?

A: More information can be found on the CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety/safety-of-vaccines.html

Q: Is it legal for you to require me to get this vaccine?

A: Yes, as a private institution, Thomas College can mandate vaccinations as a condition of attendance.

Q: What does “fully vaccinated” mean? 

A: Someone is fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the second Pfizer or Moderna shot, or two weeks after receiving a single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine AND their vaccination(s) are on file with Thomas College. All others are not fully vaccinated.

Q: Are faculty and staff required to vaccinate too? 

A: Yes, students, faculty, and staff are required to vaccinate.

Q: What extra steps are we taking to reduce risk to the community for members who have an exemption or are not yet fully vaccinated upon their arrival to campus? 

A: Until Thomas College employees and students are considered fully vaccinated, they will be required to follow additional mitigation protocols. At this time, this includes regular testing for COVID-19 (policy details will be released in the coming weeks) and to wear a mask while in-doors on campus.

Q: Will Thomas College test vaccinated community members this fall? 

A: CDC guidance provides that people who are fully vaccinated do not need to participate in surveillance testing. Therefore, vaccinated individuals will no longer be required to undergo regular on campus testing. Additional details about our testing policy will be released in the coming weeks.

Q: Will Thomas College offer vaccination clinics on campus? 

A: Thomas College is looking into availability and timing for potential vaccination clinics on campus. Vaccines are widely available at no cost in Maine. You can find locations and schedule an appointment at https://www.maine.gov/covid19/vaccines/vaccination-sites

Q: I am an international student and do not have access to a vaccine. What are my options?

A: International students should contact Student Affairs at stuaff@thomas.edu

Q: Are there any exemptions to the student vaccination policy? 

A: Students may qualify for a vaccination exemption. The College will provide exemptions for medical reasons only. Please contact the Heath Center (healthctr@thomas.edu) for more details.

Q: What is required to request an exemption from the vaccination requirement? 

A: Questions related to obtaining a vaccination exemption should be directed to the Health Center for students (healthctr@thomas.edu) and Human Resources (hr@thomas.edu) for faculty and staff.

Q: I am an online graduate student and do not come to campus. Is vaccination still required?

A: If you are enrolled in a fully online program at the graduate level, you may be eligible for an exemption. Please contact Graduate and Professional Studies at gpscurr@thomas.edu for more information.

Q: How do I submit my vaccination card? 

A: Students should submit their vaccination record to the Health Center.  Faculty and staff please submit your vaccination record to Human Resources using one of the methods below:

        • Scan and email the vaccination card/exemption form (please be sure to conceal your date of birth)
        • Take a photograph of your vaccination card/exemption form using your smart phone and email (please be sure to conceal your date of birth)
        • Deliver a photocopy of the vaccination card/exemption form (please be sure to conceal your date of birth)
        • Bring your original vaccination card form to the Health Center (students) or Human Resources (faculty and staff) and the College will make a copy
        • Students, new and returning may upload a copy of the vaccination card/exemption form via myThomas and/or the New Student Day dashboard (please be sure to conceal your date of birth)

Guest Policy

GUEST PROTOCOL

Please review this page each time you plan to host a guest on campus as policies are subject to change.

Guests will be permitted on campus and must be hosted by an individual or department.

A guest is defined as an individual who is not a current employee or student of the college.  Guests include friends and family of current students, faculty or staff, prospective students and their families, alumni, and other individuals coming to campus for official campus business or meetings.

For those who are hosting a guest, it is your responsibility to inform your guest of the College’s guidelines.  When your guest arrives on campus, please review screening questions, and remind them of the following:


Print/Download Guest Screening Questions

Guidelines for hosting a guest on campus (minimum requirements)

Screening

        • Guests should be given Thomas’ screening questions prior to
          their visit.
        • Guests must answer our screening questions prior to coming onto campus. If they answer “yes” to any question they should not come to campus.
        • Guests who have been exposed directly in the previous 14 days to someone confirmed with COVID-19 or someone exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 may not come to campus.
        • Guests who are from a non-exempt state must have a negative COVID19 test result within 72 hours of arriving in Maine or have quarantined for 14 days.

Vaccinated Guests

        • Guests are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the second Pfizer or Moderna shot, or two weeks after receiving a single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine AND they present their vaccination card upon arriving at Thomas College.
        • It is the responsibility of the host to review vaccination cards and to determine that guests meet the requirements stated above.

NOTE: Registering a guest confirms that they understand and have met screening requirements.

        • Upon arrival, the host should review each screening questions with the guest(s). Any guest who comes to campus exhibiting symptoms, should be asked to leave immediately.
        • After screening, the host should contact Safety and Security and provide the following information:
        • Name of host; Name of visitor; date/time of visit; location(s) on campus where guest will visit
        • Exception: candidates for employment should be registered with HR

Visit Safety

        • Unvaccinated guests must always wear a mask/face covering when indoors.
        • Guests are considered vaccinated two weeks after receiving the second Pfizer or Moderna shot, or two weeks after receiving a single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
        • Thomas College reserves the right to require mask/face coverings for guests, regardless of their vaccination status, if a situation/event warrants its use in the interest of community safety.

Employment Interviews

        • Notify HR the name of the candidates(s) and when they will be on campus.
        • Follow all guest and visitor protocols (see above).
        • The search committee can either join using a virtual meeting platform or in-person.
        • Facial covering policies must be followed during the on-campus interview (see above).

Note: The host is responsible for disinfecting and/or assuring all areas used by the guest are disinfected after the meeting/visit.

Online students and faculty:

  • Any online students and faculty who come to campus for a limited purpose are considered “guests” and must adhere to guest protocols during their time on campus.

Campus Access

Is the campus open to the general public?

The campus remains closed to the general public until further notice. This includes the turf fields and walking trails. For example, campus tours for prospective students which will be announced via email the day of the tour.
Facilities

Athletic Center
The facility will be open limited hours and available to anyone living and working on campus who is participating in the testing program. Those not participating in weekly on-campus testing must be fully vaccinated or show proof of negative COVID19 test (weekly) to use the facility.

Capacity Adjustments
Occupancy limits will be enforced in the Dining Center, Jeanie’s Café, Dog Pound and all classrooms. All other occupancy limits are lifted.

Cleaning Schedule
Physical Plant will collect trash in offices that are occupied throughout the summer. If you use a classroom, study room, auditorium, etc. please submit a maintenance request so that area can be cleaned (indicate daily, weekly, or one-time use)

Rentals
Thomas is not renting facilities this summer. Internal use of campus is allowed and will be for Thomas programs and courses that are consistent with the Thomas mission. There is no overnight use of campus.

Summer Housing
Housing is available but limited to students working on campus; or with academic requirements (and cannot reasonably commute); or limited extenuating circumstances. Requests for summer housing will be completed through an application process and reviewed by Housing and SFS. Students granted permission to remain on campus must participate in Thomas’ testing program.

What is our policy with vendors coming on campus?

Vendor relationship owners are obligated to contact all of our outside vendors who we anticipate coming to campus through the Fall semester and ask them for copies of their screening protocols that we then keep on file. These vendors would include FedEx, UPS, Fred’s Vending (water), all Physical Plant vendors, etc.

Ask all vendors to complete our screening questions BEFORE arriving to campus. If they answer “yes” to any of the questions they should not come.

All vendors (except daily deliveries) must be signed in using the process below.

The Thomas College employee hosting/overseeing a vendor must contact the Safety and Security Office when the vendor arrives to campus and provide the following information:

        • Name of each person
        • Name of Vendor Company
        • Time of arrival
        • All location(s) where they will be when on campus
        • Safety and Security will maintain a daily log of all
          vendors

All vendors must wear protective face coverings when inside campus buildings and outside.


Travel policy

Thomas College recommends that all individuals should take appropriate precautions and follow CDC health advisories while traveling. As of May 1, 2021, all states are exempt from travel restrictions therefore, testing and quarantine will not be needed. If states are placed back on the non-exempt list (as defined by Maine CDC), employees traveling to one of those states for essential college related business must be approved by one’s President’s Council member. Faculty and staff must notify HR and students living and working on campus must notify Student Affairs prior to traveling to a non-exempt state or internationally. Please refer to the Maine CDC site for up-to-date policies.
Domestic Travel (to non-exempt states)
If you are fully vaccinated and at least 14 days have passed since your final vaccination, testing and quarantine are not required. You can return to work if you are not symptomatic. If you are symptomatic, you would need to get tested at an off-campus location and may return to work with a negative test result.

If you are not fully vaccinated, you must get tested at an off-campus location within 3-5 days of your return OR self-quarantine for 10 days. You will be permitted to return to work once you have either a negative test result OR are symptom free after the 10-day quarantine.
International Travel
Thomas College strongly recommends that people be fully vaccinated prior to international travel. No Thomas College employees will be permitted to travel internationally for college-sponsored business without vaccination.
If you are fully vaccinated, and at least 14 days have passed since your final vaccination, get tested within 3-5 days of your return at an off-campus test location. You can return to work if you are not symptomatic. If you are symptomatic do not return to work until you receive a negative test result.

If you are not fully vaccinated, you must get tested at an off-campus location within 3-5 days of your return AND stay home and self-quarantine for 7 days. You will be permitted to return to work once you have a negative test result, have completed your 7-day self-quarantine, AND are symptom free.


COVID-19 FAQ

Can I do anything to protect myself?

This information comes from the CDC website:

The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, the CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

        • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
        • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
        • Stay home when you are sick.
        • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. If you do not have a tissue, use your elbow/sleeve (not your hand).
        • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
        • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

For information about handwashing, see CDC’s Handwashing website.

Should I use a face mask?

See above paragraphs for detailed information regarding face masks. If you have questions, please contact:

        • Lisa Desautels-Poliquin, Vice President for Student Affairs: 207-859-1220
        • Michelle Joler-Labbe, Chief Human Resources Officer, 207-859-1240

What if I exhibit symptoms of this virus?

If you are a resident student and you are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, please call Health Services at: 207-859-1401.

All others in the Thomas College community who suspect they may be symptomatic are asked to call their primary care physician and should not come to campus.

Who can get tested for COVID-19?

Based on advice from the CDC, current healthcare practice is that healthcare providers will determine, based on each patient’s symptoms, if a test is warranted.

What are other helpful resources?

If you are seeking more information, we recommend referring to sources considered credible and informed. This includes the following websites:

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