By: Ellie Pratt
According to the COVID-19 dashboard on the St. Mary’s College of Maryland website, our current vaccination rate sits at 95% with three active cases as of Sept. 29. For the fall 2021 semester, all SMCM students are required to wear face masks while indoors and all students, employees, student guests and visitors must be vaccinated against COVID-19. There are medical and religious exemptions in place, although those who remain unvaccinated are required to be tested regularly. These precautions have led to impressive results so far.
Interestingly enough, it seems that other small liberal arts colleges in Maryland are experiencing very similar circumstances, demonstrating how well vaccination and mask policies work in preventing COVID-19.
Washington College, a small liberal arts college in Chestertown, Maryland with a student population of about 1,400, has a policy stating that all students who attend this college are required to wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status, and all students are also required to receive a COVID-19 vaccination with the exception of medical or religious exemptions. The school currently has a 90% vaccination rate according to its COVID dashboard. They have only had three positive cases since Sept. 13.
St. Johns College in Annapolis only has a student population of 451. The Annapolis campus of St. Johns has had five positive cases since the beginning of the semester, with 251 tests administered so far. Face masks are required for indoors and per their Fall 2021 reopening plans; all students are required to be vaccinated, while unvaccinated individuals are required to have weekly testing. The vaccination rate currently stands at 95%, and their website declares them to be at Level Green, which simply means that they will, “continue to closely monitor state and county positivity rates and local health conditions.”
In Towson, Goucher College has a slightly larger population of 2,173 compared to our own population of around 1,400. Students and others at the college are required to wear masks indoors, and unvaccinated people are highly encouraged to wear face masks if they are within six feet of another person. As with most schools we have looked at so far, Goucher requires students to be vaccinated. According to Goucher’s COVID-19 dashboard, the school has zero active cases on campus; an impressive feat. The college sits at a 99% vaccination rate, which may account for its low amount of infection. Since Aug. 16, there have only been six cases total after 193 tests.
It looks like SMCM is right on track in terms of high vaccination rates and low prevalence of COVID-19 cases when one compares it to other small liberal arts colleges in Maryland. Hopefully, with continued student, faculty, and staff cooperation with COVID-19 policies, we can reduce the number of active cases to zero by the end of the semester. It is up to us all to make our college safe and to protect vulnerable populations, both on campus and in the local community, so please wear your mask and get vaccinated.