Learn more about contact tracing and how we are keeping our community safe.
Scott Woolnough, Alternative Learning Program Coordinator, interviews Jill Dillon, Contact Tracer, on 10/16/20 to discuss the process of contact tracing at Misericordia University.
Matt Hinton, Assistant Director of the Student Success Center & Academic Student Support Services, interviews Kathleen "Kit" Foley, Vice President of Student Life, and Paul Nardone, Member of the Cougar Care Team on 10/20/20. The discussion explores how we are keeping our community safe.
Below are the most frequently asked questions from all groups concerning our response to the pandemic. Please consult the other areas of this web page for content specific to you and your interactions with MU as a student, employee, or parent.
Q. I am a student preparing to go home for the semester. I feel fine but concerned about possibly spreading COVID-19. Are there ways I can keep my family safe?
A. Yes. Remember to always practice physical distancing, wear your mask, wash your hands, and avoid gatherings. Here is a link to a PDF file with advice from Johns Hopkins on how to be safe and even quarantine at home.
Q. Pennsylvania released some new travel guidance on November 17. How does that impact students?
A. If a student leaves campus to travel out of state, they should plan to go home and not return until the spring semester. Pennsylvania is recommending a 14-day quarantine if someone leaves the state and returns after visiting someone out of state. Or, instead of quarantine, a person who spends time out of state must have a documented negative test result that is no older than 72 hours upon return to Pennsylvania. With less than a week remaining in the semester, for most practical reasons, these travel mitigation requirements would force students to remain at home after interstate travel. Students traveling out of state should plan to take everything with them that they would need for break and follow all the Residence Life check out procedures. Parents and families CAN still come to campus to pick up students under the new guidance since they will only be visiting, making a brief stop on campus, and returning home.
Q. The fall semester ends soon. Can I be tested for COVID-19 on campus before I go home?
A. Unfortunately, although we can test on campus, we only have the capacity to test symptomatic and at-risk individuals at this time and not the hundreds of students in our resident population as one batch immediately prior to leaving as would be ideal practice. We have released advice and instructions to our students on how to limit their exposure prior to returning home. Private testing is available in the area for those who may want to have a test performed. Remember that testing isn't always a guarantee as it only measures infection at a certain point in time. Persons may be exposed to COVID after having a test administered unless they maintain a strict adherence to protective measures or go into quarantine.
Q. I am in quarantine because of confirmed close contact with a person who was COVID positive, but I just got a negative test result for COVID? Am I released?
A. No, you should remain in quarantine. Even if you test negative or feel healthy, health experts say symptoms can develop anywhere from 2-14 days from the time of exposure. In order to have the greatest chance for you to not spread COVID to others, please complete the full 14 days of quarantine.
Q. Has the Spring 2021 Academic Calendar been changed?
A. Yes. No classes will be held on January 18, 2021 in honor of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday. Classes begin on January 19. In addition, spring break and Easter break have been combined in April to reduce the number of times we send our student population home and bring them back. Please visit myMU as a revised, printable listing of the Spring dates is now available in the Student, Faculty, and Employee sections of the portal. The updated spring dates are now available on the web site's Campus Calendar as well.
- I am not on campus today. Do I need to complete the Daily Symptom Check in the LiveSafe app?
- Yes. The Daily Symptom Check should be filled out every day, regardless of where you are. This helps us support and advise those who may not regularly be on campus, and provides us within valuable information on the health and status of our community that may be time sensitive. Data from the app is not being used to track any individual. Only the user responses are being reviewed as a tool to help people take care of themselves and protect others.
- Can I go home during the semester or can parents and friends visit?
A. Students are asked to please limit travel to and from campus unless they are a commuter student. Students can travel home, but please only do so if needed. There will be no Labor Day holiday and no fall break. Also please keep in mind the COVID-19 status at home. If you have a confirmed case of COVID-19 at home or if there is a major outbreak in your hometown, use common sense and limit your risk. Please stay on campus and near to campus as needed. No visitors will be allowed inside residence halls. Parents and family members should meet students outside of buildings and limit their trips to campus.
Q. Can students gather outside for recreational sports? Do we need to wear masks?
Q. Can students gather outside for recreational sports? Do we need to wear masks?
A. We encourage all of our community to spend time outside exercising and having fun while following university guidelines. Due to the higher risk of exposure associated with playing recreational sports where proper distancing is not possible, masks must be worn at all times when playing, both indoors and outdoors. We understand that breathing while wearing a mask may be difficult for some, especially playing basketball. If you find this to be the case, please adjust accordingly by playing half court, substituting players, or otherwise modifying the game within your group to ensure you can breathe safely and comfortably, with everyone’s masks remaining on. Remember to take all normal precautions by washing your hands before and after playing, and staying socially distanced (6 feet) when not playing.
- I passed someone in the hallway that later told me they were tested positive for COVID-19. What do I need to do? Was I in close contact?
- No. We are using the CDC guidance that says close contact is when one is within six feet of you for 15 minutes or more, whether you have masks on or not. If you spent less than 15 minutes with a person or they were more than six feet away during your entire interaction, that is not defined as close contact. Please always stay more than six feet away from others. The distance greatly limits the spread of COVID-19. If six feet is good, ten feet is better. Combined with mask wearing, physical or social distancing continues to be one of the best ways to stop COVID.
Q. What type of mask should I be wearing or should others be wearing? Are neck gaiters still acceptable?
A. Masks are designed to keep other people safe. They block or slow down the tiny water droplets that we breathe out. Those drops don't travel as far when we wear masks. Maintaining 6 feet or more of distance between people at ALL times is important to protect yourself and others from possible COVID-19 infection. Masks add another layer of protection. Masks are required on campus. Visit our COUGARCARE documents in the employee and student sections of this web site for more information. According to multiple expert sources, an N95 mask is the most effective at blocking droplets from traveling out to others. These same sources say that you should NOT use an N95 mask with the square plastic vent. That vent is designed to make it easier to breathe out so it does little to protect others. Surgical masks, multi-layer cotton masks, and other similar masks that cover the nose and mouth are acceptable face coverings on campus for general daily use. A plastic face shield is not an acceptable face covering alone for general, daily activities on campus. It must be worn with a mask unless you have a medical need that prevents you from wearing a mask. Please consult with our COUGARCARE team if you have such a medical need. A highly publicized study released recently tested one type of neck fleece or gaiter along with common mask types. The authors of the study said there were developing a technique for testing masks rather than conducting a comprehensive mask test. We are still allowing neck gaiters to be worn as a mask on campus as we follow previous guidance from the CDC and PA Department of Health regarding face coverings. This may change if the official guidance changes.
Q. Will study rooms be open in the fall semester?
A. The study rooms in the Bevevino Library will be open. The study rooms will be socially distanced and limited in capacity. Please use the existing reservation system. Also note that the length of time for use of the rooms has been reduced to 2 hours rather than 4 hours as before to allow for more students to utilize them.
Q. Will the tuition rates differ for full-time students who have online courses?
A. There will not be a price differential for classes based on their delivery method. Our faculty will be highly attentive to the different learning styles and the different teaching platforms that will be needed to help us manage our physical distancing on campus this fall. The quality of our courses will remain unchanged. The courses will all count toward the your degree in the same way as they did before. We are committed to keeping the value of your education at the highest level possible.
Q: What if my roommate gets tested for COVID-19?
A: If your roommate is tested, they will be told to immediately go back to their room to collect what they will need (clothes, laptop, books, etc…) and will be isolated off campus (at home) until the university receives the results of the test. If the test is negative, your roommate can return to campus and resume normal activity if they were not determined to be exposed by a contact tracer. If the test is negative after determined exposure, your roommate will return after their 14 day quarantine. If the test is positive, the student will remain in isolation for at least 10 days from the onset of symptoms. At the end of the 10 days, the student must be fever free without the use of fever reducing medication and symptom free. The student must be approved to return to campus.
A contact tracer will be in contact with you if your roommate tests positive to determine if you have been in close contact and have been exposed (within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more). Normally, the university will not contact you directly to notify you that your roommate is being tested until a positive result has occurred. You should contact the Health Center at 570-674-6276 or Cougar Care Team email@example.com if you have any questions or concerns.
Q. What would happen if Luzerne County was designated as "yellow" in the state's emergency plan?
A. With appropriate precautions in place, The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will allow higher education institutions to deliver in-person instruction even if our region is put into the "yellow" phase. In fact, the university's procedures and safety precautions are designed with the "yellow" status in mind. Under yellow, telework would continue for faculty and staff where feasible. Essential functions would still be done on campus as needed. Supervisors will work with staff to determine coverage on campus. Strict adherence to proper social/physical distancing guidelines would be enforced. Clinical training and field experience would be allowed for all individuals preparing for licensure and certification. Our practice this fall will be to restrict gatherings of non-instructional activities to no more than 25 people (fewer whenever possible), and this is the allowable guidance under the yellow status. We will continue to adhere to CDC, DOH, and PDE guidance as they evolve. We will monitor public health indicators and adjust plans as necessary.
Q. If I was tested off campus, should I contact a university official with the results?
A. Yes. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org including your name and cell phone number. They will contact you to privately discuss your results. The Student Health Center is the preferred location for students to seek testing, unless they can't get to campus. Please remember to make an appointment prior to going to the Health Center. Faculty and staff should also contact their immediate supervisor after informing COUGARCARE.
Q. Will I be able to attend athletics contests?
A. The MAC Freedom Conference has suspended all athletics intercollegiate competition for fall 2020.
Q. If someone in my class tests positive, what happens next?
A. Every classroom has been designed for a minimum of 6 feet of social distancing, and everyone is required to wear a mask to minimize passing along any possible infection. The first thing that happens is the student who tested positive will be required to isolate off campus and not come to class or campus. A university contact tracer will then contact the student to get a list of names of individuals that the student believes he/she has been in close contact with (within 6 feet for 15 or more minutes masked or not masked). In addition, the faculty members who taught the student in class may be contacted for additional information. If someone has been determined to have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, they will be notified, then quarantined off campus for 14 days. This is why social distancing and wearing a mask is so important. It is much harder to transmit or be infected if you keep your distance and wear a mask. If you are not called by a university contact tracer, you were determined NOT to have been exposed.
Q. I am an employee. I am sick or have been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
A. Consult with your health care provider if you are not feeling well. Do not report to campus. Please consult the instructions in the Faculty and Staff or Risk Assessment sections of this web page. Complete the questions in the LiveSafe smartphone app every day. Do not report to campus until you can consult with your supervisor and Human Resources.
Q. Is campus open for informal recreation in outdoor areas?
A. Campus is currently open to pedestrians to use our sidewalks and paths. Please maintain social distancing and have a mask on as interaction with others might occur as you walk across campus. The tennis and basketball courts remain closed to visitors and our neighbors. We apologize for the inconvenience but our goal is to avoid any unnecessary crowds or gatherings as we increase our student and employee presence on campus. All campus buildings and interior spaces remain restricted to employees and preregistered guests and or/vendors only.