March 11, 2020 at 5:13 p.m.
To St. Olaf College students, faculty, and staffFrom The Coronavirus Response Team
Dear St. Olaf Community,
The safety and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff is always foremost in the college’s thinking and planning. We’re writing today with an update about the college’s planning regarding COVID-19.
The conversation and concerns about the global COVID-19 outbreak have intensified on college campuses across the nation in the past few days, including here at St. Olaf. Members of the Coronavirus Response Team and college leaders meet daily to evaluate what this rapidly evolving situation means for Minnesota and our campus. We realize that many colleges and universities, including the University of Minnesota, are taking a variety of actions. We’re closely following guidance from the CDC and Minnesota Department of Health, and are in regular contact with our peer colleges.
In keeping with this guidance — while also being mindful of the fact that today the World Health Organization declared the global COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic and this outbreak is rapidly evolving — St. Olaf has made the decision to extend spring break by one week. Students should plan to begin their spring break as scheduled on Saturday, March 21, and plan to return to campus on Sunday, April 5. Classes will resume Monday, April 6.
During that extended break, faculty and staff will continue working on plans and preparations should we need to quickly shift to online instruction at a later date. At this time there is no plan to shift to online instruction, but as we all know, the situation is evolving rapidly and this could change at any point. Please take all class materials, medications, and other essential items with you when you leave for spring break.
If the situation changes, we will communicate those updates directly with the campus community. We will also continue to update this list of St. Olaf trips and events that have been impacted by COVID-19.
Many of you have contacted us seeking guidance on spring break travel. Our current recommendations are based on guidelines from the CDC and the Minnesota Department of Health. At this time, these public health agencies do not advise any restrictions on domestic travel or international travel beyond those associated with travel to Level 3 countries.
While there are no restrictions beyond the advice we provided on March 5 (look under “Campus Updates”), the MDH advises individuals to assess their own risks, and those of vulnerable populations with which they have contact, as they consider their travel plans. Anyone with travel plans should continue to monitor the CDC’s travel information and alerts. All travelers should be aware that evolving public health guidance could make it difficult for you to return to campus, and you may be required to self-quarantine away from campus for 14 days. We advise travelers to bring along items that you may need if your return to campus is delayed.
We’re also fielding numerous questions about events and large gatherings. At this time, all events scheduled through March 20 will proceed as planned unless the organizers decide otherwise. Individuals should periodically look for updates on canceled events and be prepared if scheduling changes become necessary.
College housing and dining will remain open for students who need to remain on campus over spring break. Any student who needs to remain on campus must register with Associate Dean of Students Pamela McDowell using this form. She will send a follow-up message to students with further guidance and instruction.
The COVID-19 web page addresses frequently asked questions, provides up-to-date guidance from public health organizations, and outlines plans and procedures at St. Olaf. We encourage all community members to frequently check the page for factual information and resources.
If you have questions about COVID-19, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our community works because people care for one another and for the best interests of our college. We appreciate your attention to this message, and we ask for your continued support.
– The Coronavirus Response Team