St. Olaf College | COVID-19

March 5, 2020 at 3:12 p.m.

To St. Olaf College students, faculty, and staffFrom The Coronavirus Response Team

Dear St. Olaf Community,

As the situation with the global coronavirus outbreak continues to rapidly evolve, the college is closely monitoring guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Department of State, and the Minnesota Department of Health.

We’re writing with two important updates:

1. The Coronavirus Response Team has developed a COVID-19 web page to address frequently asked questions, provide up-to-date guidance from public health organizations, and outline plans and procedures at St. Olaf. We encourage all community members to review this resource.

2. It is the current recommendation of the CDC and the Minnesota Department of Health that individuals returning from countries with a Level 3 Travel Health Notice (currently China, Iran, Italy, and South Korea) self-quarantine for 14 days upon returning to the U.S.

St. Olaf advises that all travel to CDC Warning Level 3 countries should be canceled or deferred to a later date, but we understand that some individuals may choose to travel to these countries or will be returning from them in the coming weeks. Based on the recommendation of the CDC and Minnesota Department of Health, any employee, student, or other community member traveling to a Level 3 country should inform St. Olaf about their travel plans and self-quarantine away from campus for 14 days upon return to the U.S. Individuals traveling to Level 3 countries should report their travel plans here.

Students, faculty, staff, and other campus personnel who have plans to travel to a Level 3 country in the coming weeks should:

  • Carefully evaluate and possibly reconsider travel plans
    • Many airlines and hotels are changing their cancellation policies and waiving fees, and individuals with plans to travel to areas with serious outbreaks may wish to consider traveling elsewhere or remain on campus.
    • St. Olaf Residence Life will work with students who want to stay on campus over spring break instead of traveling.
  • Plan for a 14-day self-isolation away from campus upon return to the U.S.
    • Individuals will need to arrange for off-campus lodging for these 14 days.
    • Students will need to determine whether and how their professors will accommodate their absences. Students should contact their professors in advance of travel to determine what accommodations might be made.
    • Staff will need to work with their supervisors and faculty will need to work with their department chairs to make arrangements for taking this amount of time away.
    • During this 14-day self-isolation period, the CDC recommends that you:
      • Stay home and avoid contact with others.
      • Do not go to work or school.
      • Take your temperature with a thermometer two times a day and monitor for a fever above 100.4° F (38° C).
      • Watch for cough, trouble breathing, or other signs of respiratory infection.
      • Discuss your work situation with your employer or professors before returning to work or class.
  • Closely monitor federal government restrictions on return to the U.S.
    • All travelers should monitor the CDC’s travel information and alerts right up until flight time, and remain aware that identified Level 3 countries can change.
    • Travelers to countries with widespread COVID-19 outbreaks may have their return to the U.S. impacted by governmental units in those countries as well as by any limitations that may become effective in the U.S. St. Olaf does not have control over these restrictions and regulations, and will be limited in the assistance that it can provide to travelers.

Once again, at this time these restrictions apply only to community members who will be traveling to and returning from Level 3 countries. However, individuals should be mindful about the CDC’s recommendations regarding travel to other countries with heightened travel health notices. The CDC currently lists Japan as a Level 2 country, which indicates sustained community spread, and travelers are encouraged to practice enhanced precautions.

If you have health-related or general questions about COVID-19, contact

If you have questions about how this impacts off-campus study, contact

Thank you for your patience as we work to update and share information as efficiently and accurately as possible.

– The Coronavirus Response Team