St. Olaf College | COVID-19

August 5, 2020 at 4:53 p.m.

To St. Olaf College studentsFrom Rosalyn Eaton ’87, Dean of Students

Dear Students,

Returning to campus this year is both exciting and a bit daunting. It’s been too long since we’ve been together, and I imagine you’ll want to enjoy your friends and, I hope, make more. As you know, returning to the campus and Northfield communities is predicated on the expectation that everyone is conscientious about behavior. It is our behavior that will either protect or harm those around us. We know that you are smart, thoughtful and kind people who are capable of managing yourselves and looking out for each other in this really difficult time.

I expect that you are aware that college students have been among those making national headlines for ignoring precautions for the health and safety of themselves and those around them. The results have been disastrous for too many.

I recognize that some of you signed the Community Pledge without actually reading it. Please understand that you will be held to the Community’s Standards whether you have made yourself familiar with the standards or not. I’ll be clear: Coming to campus is your decision and we’re pleased that you’ve chosen to be here. If, however, you do not follow the College, City and State expectations for behavior, you will be suspended or expelled from the College.

Campus Reopening Lead Enoch Blazis provided an update earlier today on the changes the College is making to our reopening plan for the fall semester. Here is the promised a follow up, broken into a process of three key phases:

Pre-Arrival: Now Through August 19
Pre-arrival screening for COVID-19 Exposure
Reviewing and changing of class schedules
Notification of housing changes and needs for move-in accommodations

We would like every student to answer the following questionnaire. This questionnaire must be completed by Saturday, August 8.

The questionnaire is extremely important to help us:

  • Manage students who may have had exposure to COVID-19 prior to coming to campus. Those who have been recently exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19 or have tested positive will need to quarantine at home for 14 days before they return to campus.
  • Know whether students plan to take classes on campus (hybrid) or change their plans to take classes remotely.
  • Identify students who will not require housing and those who need a housing change because their roommate will not be coming to campus.

I want to reiterate how important it is to follow the guidelines for mitigating your exposure to COVID-19 in the next two weeks prior to coming back to campus as well as when you return to campus. Wearing a face covering, washing your hands, and keeping 6 feet of physical distancing from others are three important steps you each must take to ensure that you can be part of our campus community.

Starting Monday, August 10, you will be able to review your class schedule and request changes based on the availability of more online classes. The schedule will be as follows:

Monday, August 10: Seniors
Tuesday, August 11: Juniors
Wednesday, August 12: Sophomores
Thursday, August 13: First Years

For students who change their class schedule to be entirely online and choose to learn remotely for the duration of the semester, students will have a reduced comprehensive fee (removing room and board).

The Registrar’s Office will be sending you further instructions and information by the end of this week.

Arrival On Campus/Quarantine Level 1: Through August 24
Restricted to residence hall room/honor house through August 24
All students required to wear face coverings indoors (outside residence hall room) or when physical distancing is not possible
Meals will be provided at Stav Hall on a schedule
No student work except essential positions and remote
No extracurricular activities except for virtual
Classes will begin online on August 20
Second round of baseline testing begins August 24
  • For all students who have a move-in date and time slot that fall between August 15 and August 19, your date and time stays the same.
  • For any student who had planned to arrive later and who cannot change their travel plans, they should contact Pamela McDowell ( to make arrangements for quarantining at a separate campus location before obtaining permission to move into their residence hall following quarantine.
  • For those residing off campus but intending to come to campus to attend classes during semester one, they must arrange for testing on or before August 19, and then quarantine at their off campus residence.
  • Upon arrival on campus, every student will be quarantined to their residence hall room or honor house, with very few exceptions. Exercise is not an exception.
  • Each student will be tested within 24 hours of arrival on campus based on move-in date and time.
  • Positive test results will be provided within 48 to 72 hours. If you have a positive test result, a St. Olaf staff member will call you directly to work through next steps. If your test is negative, you will receive an email letting you know.
  • If you test positive you will be moved to isolation for 14 days and your roommate will have to quarantine in their room for 14 days.
  • Each student will have access to the ProtectWell app for daily tracking on symptoms. More information will be provided soon on how to download and use the app.

Quarantine Level 2: August 24 through September 2

Restricted to residence halls and immediate outdoor areas
All are required to wear face coverings outside of rooms
Meals will be provided in Stav Hall — residence halls will eat together at appointed times
No student work except essential positions and remote
Only virtual activities
Classes continue online through September 2

  • Once we are past the level one quarantine (through August 24), the campus will move to the next level of quarantine which will require students to remain in their assigned residence hall and surrounding outdoor area through September 2.
  • During this time, students will eat as part of their residence hall community during appointed times in Stav Hall.
  • This quarantine will require all students to be online for classes from August 20-September 2, and students will not be participating in any on- or off campus activities including employment, experiential learning activities, co-curricular activities, or student work during this time.
  • With the additional time you will spend in your room during quarantine, we recommend bringing:
    • Earbuds or headphones for help facilitate online classes, Virtual programs, etc.
    • Fans to help with cooling the space

I know this is a lot of information, and you may understandably have questions. This Monday, August 10, 3:00pm – 4:00pm Central, we will host a zoom information session for students to ask questions about housing, quarantine, testing, and class schedules. The staff members who will be on hand to answer your questions include Associate Dean of Students for Residence Life Pamela McDowell, College Registrar Ericka Peterson, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Chris George, Contact Tracing Coordinator Aida Mejia, COVID-19 Case Manager Teresa Lebens and me, Dean of Students. Click here to pre-register for the session. This session will be recorded and made available after the event for those who cannot watch live.

We’re looking forward to working with all of you this semester.

Dean Roz