COVID-19 Information for Faculty and Staff

COVID-19 Information for Faculty and Staff


GMercyU is currently mask-optional. 

May 23, 2022 Update

According to the Montgomery County Office of Public Health (OPH), “Montgomery County is now in the CDC-defined “high” level of community transmission for COVID-19. The public is urged to wear a mask indoors in public, stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines, and get tested if you have symptoms.”

At this time, we are not requiring masks to be worn in all indoor spaces, but we strongly recommend our community members to take appropriate precautions to protect themselves.

If you have any signs of illness, including symptoms commonly associated with COVID-19, flu, etc., please do not come to campus or attend in-person classes. Faculty and staff should contact covid19@gmercyu.edu. Students should contact healthandwellnessctr@gmercyu.edu.

Symptoms include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

We will continue to monitor guidance from OPH and CDC, and will update the community if we need to return to indoor masking. Thank you for all you do to keep the GMercyU community safe.

Please note:

  • Please continue to carry a mask with you at all times and wear it when requested to do so, out of respect for your fellow Griffins who may be at higher risk and may choose to continue to wear a mask or ask that others do so in their classrooms or offices. 
  • We will still require all non-resident guests entering the Residence Halls to provide proof of vaccination.
  • After March 18, we will no longer require unvaccinated community members to provide weekly proof of a negative test. It is essential that any faculty or staff experiencing symptoms report them to covid19@gmercyu.edu immediately.
     

Vaccine Requirement for Fall 2022 

All faculty and staff working on campus for Fall 2022 are required to complete GMercyU's COVID-19 Proof of Vaccination Form and Request for Vaccination Exemption Form here prior to coming to campus this fall. You must be logged into the portal to view the form.
 

It’s important to remember that students who are required to participate in clinicals, student teaching, or other field experiences in order to graduate may be required to show proof of vaccination in order to report to their site locations in the fall. Students who choose not to be vaccinated may not be able to complete these degree program requirements, which could delay your time to graduation.


March 2022 FAQs

Why are you removing the masking requirement when there is still a risk of infection?

Based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, areas that are experiencing “Medium” or “Low” infection rates can remove their indoor masking requirements. Montgomery County is currently at “Low”, and both Montgomery County and Philadelphia County have removed their indoor masking requirements. We selected March 19 out of an abundance of caution, waiting five days after our return from Spring Break to officially go mask-optional. Doing so will allow us to monitor any potential spike in on-campus cases, and make adjustments to our safety protocols if needed.

KN95 and three-ply masks have been proven very effective at preventing people from the illness. People who feel more comfortable doing so should continue to wear a mask. 

Out of respect for community members at higher risk, everyone on campus should continue to carry a mask with them at all times and wear it if requested. 

Will I be required to wear a mask in class or when meeting with other faculty or staff in their offices?

In some cases, students and other members of our community may be asked to wear a mask. Out of respect for community members who may be at higher risk, please continue to carry a mask with you at all times and wear it as requested. Doing so is consistent with our Mercy values and commitment to the Common Good. 

Will the University notify me if I’ve been exposed to someone who tests positive?

If a community member tests positive and provides the names of persons who were close contacts, those persons will be notified and asked to monitor for symptoms/quarantine based upon their vaccination status. 

What should I do if I'm sick?

If you have any signs of illness, including symptoms commonly associated with COVID-19, flu, etc., please do not come to campus or attend in-person classes. Faculty and staff should alert covid19@gmercyu.edu.

Symptoms include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
Will you still be testing unvaccinated faculty and staff?

After March 18, we will no longer require unvaccinated community members to provide weekly proof of a negative test. It is essential that faculty and staff experiencing symptoms report them to covid19@gmercyu.edu immediately.

Where can I find free COVID tests?

Free COVID tests for persons who are symptomatic are available. Please click the links below for more information. 

If you have any questions, please email COVID19@gmercyu.edu.


January 2022 FAQs

What should I do if I am exposed to a COVID-positive individual or test COVID-positive?

Anyone testing positive or identified to having exposure to a COVID-positive individual should email COVID19@gmercyu.edu.

Faculty and staff should not return to campus until contacted by the University.

What do I need to do if I'm coming to campus in January for the first time?

All students, staff and faculty members coming to campus for the first time must provide proof of vaccination or a completed vaccination exemption request form. If you have not already done so, please complete this process by January 4, 2022. Community members who do not submit this information will be restricted from campus.

Please use GMercyU's COVID-19 Proof of Vaccination Form and Request for Vaccination Exemption Form here. (You must be logged into the portal to view the form.)
 
If you have previously submitted an exemption and would like to change your status to vaccinated, please email COVID19@gmercyu.edu.

Do vaccinated faculty and staff need booster shots?

Based on current CDC guidance which defines “fully vaccinated” as having one dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine and two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, the University is NOT requiring community members to receive a booster vaccine at this time. We STRONGLY RECOMMEND that all vaccinated community members receive a booster vaccine as soon as they are eligible. We will continue to monitor CDC, state and local guidance regarding the possibility of requiring booster vaccines.

If you have received a COVID-19 booster, please be sure to upload your proof of vaccination using this link.  

 

What else should I know about coming to campus?

Here are some additional steps we are asking all community members to take to ensure we keep our campus safe:

  • If you do not feel well, please do not come to campus.
  • Your University ID is required to access campus, so please be sure to have it with you at all times. Public Safety officers will scan your ID card at the Sumneytown Pike and Evans Road entrances.
  • Access to campus for Sumneytown Pike and Evans Road will return to two-way traffic starting January 4, 2022. Officers will be stationed at the passenger side of vehicles to scan ID cards. If you do not have a GMercyU ID card, please contact campbellsolutioncenter@gmercyu.edu.  
  • Please keep a copy of your vaccination card or approved exemption with you or in electronic format in the event Public Safety needs to verify your status. 
Will we still need to be masked indoors?

The indoor masking mandate remains in effect. Everyone on campus must wear a mask when indoors unless you are in your private office or residence hall room.

The University will provide free access to three-ply ASTM Level 3 masks since they have been proven to be most effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19. For the Common Good, we strongly encourage you to wear the new ASTM masks and continue to wash your hands frequently.

Can community members wear cloth masks or is everyone supposed to wear the 3-ply masks provided?

We strongly recommend that everyone wear the Level 3 masks.  They will be handed out at the entry gates, and available at other key locations around campus, including the Library, Campbell Solution Center, Residence Halls and classrooms.  

 An N95 mask is an acceptable alternative. Anyone who would like to wear an N95 mask may bring their own. 

What are we doing to enforce the masking policy, especially among visitors coming to athletic games on campus?

All visitors are required to wear Level 3 masks while in University Buildings. A Public Safety officer will be stationed at the entrance of the Griffin Complex during games to hand out level 3 masks and assist with mask enforcement. 

Contact Public Safety at 215-641-5522 if you observe someone without a mask. There are also masks within Student Life Office in Rotelle if you wish to offer a guest a mask. 

Will the Bensalem campus be supplied level 3 masks?

Yes.  Masks were delivered to Bensalem.

Are we still required to complete the health screening survey on the portal?

Student, staff, and faculty do not need to complete the screening tool before coming to campus. However, they should not come to campus if they have any signs of illness.

Symptoms include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

In addition, some clinical sites require students to submit health screening forms. Students can continue to use the University’s online health screening form as needed. You can access the survey here. It is also available on the portal -- click on the  button. Vendors also will need to continue to complete this online health screening form.

Are we still requiring social distancing?

Social distancing is a CDC recommendation. It is not currently a university policy, but strongly encouraged. 

Is the University allowing visitors to the campus?

Yes, visitors are allowed on campus.  All visitors must wear level 3 masks.  And any visitor to the Residence Halls must provide proof of vaccination.

Under what conditions will the whole campus go remote?

The university works in conjunction with Montgomery County as well utilizes CDC guidance to determine updates to existing campus safety protocols.  

We will continue to update you on our plans via the Portal and our COVID-19 pages of the website.

Are events allowed on campus this spring?

If the number of cases begins to spike in the area, we may need to limit campus guests to vaccinated individuals. Events on campus will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis by the Emergency Management Team.

All proposed events must be submitted via the Campus Event Calendar. If you need access to this site, please contact facilities at Kilpatrick.k@gmercyu.edu.

Any consumption of food or beverages at events must be approved by Parkhurst. 

Where can I find free COVID tests?

Free COVID tests for persons that are not symptomatic are available here:

You can also order tests at https://www.covidtests.gov/, but please note they may take several weeks to be delivered. ​Home tests are not an acceptable form of testing for the University weekly testing requirement.

If you have any questions, please submit them to COVID19@gmercyu.edu.


Fall 2021 FAQs

Are unvaccinated community members required to wear masks?

All community members regardless of vaccination status will be required to wear masks indoors unless they are alone in their individual offices until further notice.

Masks will not be required outdoors. 

Are faculty and staff required to wear a mask while in their office?

No, unless there is someone in the office with them. 

Can I travel to conferences (University sponsored) if I have not been vaccinated?

All University-sponsored travel must be approved by the Deans. Faculty who are unvaccinated may not be granted permission to travel if the need to quarantine for two weeks after travel will impact their on-campus teaching responsibilities.

For all travel, faculty and Deans should follow CDC guidance for quarantine and testing. 

How will supervisors get a list of non-vaccinated faculty/staff?

A list of non-vaccinated faculty/staff will be sent to the Vice Presidents by the Director of Public Safety.  They can distribute to the appropriate supervisors. 

Will faculty/staff meetings be held on campus or via Zoom?

This will depend on the meeting type and will be confirmed by the meeting conveners prior to the meeting.  

Please note that we only have two spaces on campus that are available for a hybrid meeting of both in-person and zoom. Therefore, meetings will most likely either be on-campus or Zoom, but not hybrid. 

What is the process for requesting an event on campus?

For events on campus, please complete this form. Event requests will be reviewed by the Emergency Management Team.

Please contact Kyle Kilpatrick at Kilpatrick.k@gmercyu.edu if you have any questions. 

How often will my office be cleaned?

Please continue to leave your trash outside of your office at night. If you need your office cleaned, please put in a request with Plant Services.


Faculty/Teaching Information

Are faculty members required to wear a mask while teaching in their classrooms?

Faculty either need to wear a face shield or a mask until the indoor mask mandate is removed for the campus. 

Will we require students to maintain a physical distance in classrooms for the Fall 2021 semester?

Based on current CDC Guidelines, we will not be requiring physical distancing in classrooms. 

Can I wear a face shield instead of a mask while I am teaching?

Yes, if you are physically distanced from the students in your class, you can wear just a face shield.  Although face shields may feel more comfortable when teaching, faculty can choose to wear a mask, a shield, or both if they prefer.

 

Are face shields as safe as masks?

Face shields have large gaps below and alongside the face, where your respiratory droplets may escape and reach others around you and will not protect you from respiratory droplets from them. A properly fitted face mask covers your nose and mouth and will better protect you and others from respiratory droplets.

Can I ask students in my class if they are vaccinated?

No. Students who are not vaccinated will have an approved exemption and should not be treated differently.

If students disclose that they have an exemption, please do not ask for any details regarding the exemption.

If a vaccination is required for a clinical or other off-site placement, can I obtain the information from the student?

Yes. Students who are required to have a vaccine to participate in clinicals will need to upload their vaccine information to the compliance site as well as to GMercyU.

Can I have office hours via Zoom instead of on campus?

Since students will be back on campus, we expect faculty teaching on campus to have office hours on campus. Faculty may also choose to have some office hours via Zoom if that is preferred by the students in the class.

Faculty and students are required to wear masks if they are meeting in any office on campus. Faculty must post their office hours on their office door, syllabus, and submit them to their School Administrative Assistant. 

How many days per week do I need to be on campus?

Based on the faculty handbook section on Academic Responsibilities, faculty teaching on-campus in-term programs are required to be on campus three days per week.  

Faculty teaching in online programs must consult with their Dean for an approved telework policy regarding on campus presence. 

Can I make my on-campus class hybrid or remote if all students agree to the change in modality?

No. A change in modality from on-campus to hybrid or remote could impact a student’s financial aid eligibility. Students may also not feel empowered to object if the majority wants to change

How do I handle a student who will miss class due to a COVID-related absence?

Treat any COVID-related absence the same as you would an excused medical absence.  Students will need to contact their faculty to make up work if they need to miss class or clinicals. In order to be in compliance with HIPAA protection, students should submit documentation directly to the Health and Wellness Center.

Faculty are welcome to inquire of the Health Center staff if the student’s documentation has been received and is valid. 


Fall 2021 Vaccine Requirement FAQs

Why is GMercyU requiring faculty and staff to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Our top priority continues to be the health and safety of our campus community. We believe requiring the vaccine is the best way to mitigate the potential spread of this virus.  

Requiring the vaccine is not only consistent with the best available information from the Centers for Disease Control and local and state health officials, but it also is consistent with our Mercy values, which call on us to make decisions that consider the Common Good and respect all human life.  COVID-19 has proven to be a highly contagious and often deadly virus, and we want to be sure we’re doing everything we can as a community to end this pandemic.

As an institution of higher education, we also are committed to making evidence-based decisions. The science around the COVID-19 vaccine indicates that it is a safe and effective way to help prevent the spread of the virus.

I plan to be on campus only a few times in the fall. Do I still need to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes.  All employees who plan to be on campus will be required to show proof of vaccination prior to coming to any campus in the fall. 

I would prefer not to get the vaccine. Can I just fill out an exemption form?

All GMercyU employees who will be on a GMercyU campus will be required to show proof of vaccination prior to coming to campus in the fall. You can request an exemption for religious or medical reasons only.  The exemption form will be available in the coming weeks.

It is also important to remember that faculty who need to go to clinical, student teaching, or other field experience sites will very likely be required to show proof of vaccination in order to report to those site locations in the fall. Most area hospitals, for example, have already announced vaccination requirements.  

Anyone who does not provide proof of the vaccination or complete the exemption process will not be able to come to campus.

Will requesting a medical or religious exemption impact my ability to work on campus?

If you are granted an exemption, you will be able to come to campus as long you follow all other safety protocols.  

If I have tested positive for COVID-19 do I still need to get the vaccine?

The CDC has indicated that contracting COVID-19 may provide immunity for a period of time, but vaccination provides the best protection against the spread of the virus.  Our top priority continues to be the health and safety of our campus community, and we believe requiring the vaccine for the fall is the best way to mitigate the potential spread of this virus.  If you contract the virus over the summer, prior to receiving the vaccine, it is recommended that you consult with your doctor on the appropriate timing for vaccination.  

If I don’t want to get the vaccine, will I be able to teach virtually instead?

Unless you are already teaching in a fully online program, it is very unlikely that you would be able to teach all of your courses in a virtual format this fall. The majority of campus undergraduate and graduate courses are already scheduled to be offered on campus in the fall.  

What if I can’t complete the vaccination process prior to returning to campus in August?

Appointments are much more widely available now than they were even a few weeks ago. Please be sure to check your County’s Office of Public Health website for details on where you can make an appointment.  Local pharmacies and grocery stores also have been offering vaccine appointments. Gwynedd Mercy University also plans to offer at least one more vaccine clinic over the summer. Be sure to continue to check your GMercyU email and the portal for potential dates and times.  

We strongly recommend that you schedule your appointment in June or early July, so you can be fully vaccinated no later than two weeks prior to your scheduled return to campus in August. Remember, you need both doses of a two-dose vaccine regimen or one dose of a one-dose regimen in order to be fully vaccinated.  

Is it possible that the University will eliminate this requirement before the fall semester begins based on new information?

The start of the fall semester is still several months away and we know things may continue to change.  Similar to the way we have handled decisions over the past year, we will continue to monitor and evaluate the situation carefully.  It is possible that we will make adjustments to our campus safety protocols based on new information.  But, for now, we believe this is the safest course of action based on the scientific information available to us today.  

Faculty and staff do not need to show proof of vaccination until August so you have a little time to schedule your appointments. However, you will need to have been fully vaccinated at least two weeks prior to your return to campus in August.

Where can I get more information about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine?

In addition to the many resources available on the CDC website, you may find it helpful to take a look at the information in this panel discussion, which was provided by members of our science, public health, and nursing faculty.  

What if I was vaccinated outside the United States?

People who were vaccinated outside the United States with an FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine and have received all the recommended doses do not need any additional doses. People who received the first dose of an FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine that requires two doses do not need to restart the vaccine series in the United States but should receive the second dose as close to the recommended time as possible.

Some people may have received a COVID-19 vaccine that is not currently authorized in the United States. No data is available on the safety or efficacy of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine currently authorized in the United States after receipt of a non-FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine. However, in some circumstances, people who received a COVID-19 vaccine not currently authorized in the United States may be offered revaccination with an FDA-authorized vaccine:

  • COVID-19 vaccines not authorized by FDA but listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization (WHO)2
    • People who have received all recommended doses of a COVID-19 vaccine that is listed for emergency use by WHO do not need any additional doses with an FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine
    • People who have not received all the recommended doses of a COVID-19 vaccine listed for emergency use by WHO may be offered a complete FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine series
  • COVID-19 vaccines neither authorized by FDA nor listed for emergency use by WHO
    • People who received all or some of the recommended doses of a COVID-19 vaccine that is neither authorized by FDA nor listed for emergency use by WHO may be offered a complete FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine series

The minimum interval between the last dose of a non-FDA authorized vaccine or a WHO-listed vaccine and an FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine is 28 days. Only people who have received all recommended doses of an FDA-authorized or WHO-listed COVID-19 vaccine are considered fully vaccinated for the purpose of public health guidance.