St. Olaf College | COVID-19

October 7, 2020 at 8:15 a.m.

Plans for the Interim and Spring

To St. Olaf College studentsFrom President David Anderson

Dear Oles,

Thanks to all of you who responded to the poll requesting your thoughts about opening the College for Interim and spring semester. You’ve seen the results: 79% of faculty, 87% of staff, and 60% of students prefer Scenario 1 where Interim is online, followed by a two-week Interim break, followed by a return to campus, with the spring semester beginning with testing and quarantining as we did this fall. Because this scenario has such strong support in the community and because it is the scenario most likely to enable us to complete the spring semester in person, we have made the decision to go with it. We will have three “rest days” sprinkled throughout the spring semester.

We received 60 pages of commentary from students, faculty, and staff in response to the poll. It was clear from student voices that many of you treasure the in-person learning experience and would prefer an in-person Interim. I would, too. But it’s also true that the majority of you favored the approach we’ve chosen because of the benefits to everyone’s health and safety. The pandemic has imposed limits and constraints on many areas of our lives, and this is one of them. It simply wouldn’t be practical to have everyone back for Interim, test and quarantine, and then, one month later after the Interim break, repeat that process. Nearly half of Interim would have been online anyway in that scenario in order to allow for the quarantine.

This is a consequential decision. The welfare of students, faculty, and staff is at stake when we decide how and when to operate during a global pandemic. Thank you for helping us together come to the right decision for St. Olaf.

David R. Anderson ’74