St. Olaf College | COVID-19

February 15, 2021 at 12:52 p.m.

Update on COVID-19 Baseline Testing

To St. Olaf College studentsFrom Campus Reopening Lead Enoch Blazis

Dear Oles,

As we continue with our reopening plan, I write to provide an update on our first round of COVID-19 baseline testing. We conducted 3,252 tests last week and had 9 positive results, which means we had a 0.28% test positivity rate. Our Contact Tracing Team quickly worked to identify close contacts, and we currently have 19 people quarantined as a result of potential exposure to COVID-19.

We expected to have some cases as we returned to campus, and we will continue to monitor our baseline testing results and provide updates to the campus community. Our COVID-19 Dashboard, which has been redesigned to make the data easier to read, will be updated daily.

The second round of baseline testing for students is this Wednesday and Thursday, February 17 and 18. As we did for the first round of baseline testing, we will use saliva testing. Although the sample collection method is different from the nasal swab test we used for baseline testing at the beginning of the fall semester, it uses the same RT-PCR technology — the highest standard of testing available — and has the same level of accuracy. We have added more detailed information about the testing we’re using to the FAQs on our COVID-19 site, and you can find it here under “What test are we using and how accurate is it?”

Testing is only one element of our efforts for a safe campus. Please remember that this virus spreads with close contact, and that is why it’s critical that we all continue to wear masks, physically distance, and follow all of our Community Standards. We’re still in our modified campus quarantine this week, and even after that ends all heightened Yellow Campus Alert Level conditions will remain in place.

Thank you for your hard work and diligence so far. Each community member who has tested positive in the first round of baseline testing has had very few close contacts, which means the number of people in quarantine has remained relatively low. You’re doing exactly what we asked you to do, and we’re grateful. Let’s keep up the great work.

Enoch