February 15, 2021 at 12:56 p.m.
Update on COVID-19 Baseline Testing
To St. Olaf College faculty and staffFrom Campus Reopening Lead Enoch Blazis
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 faculty and staff is this Monday and Tuesday, February 15 and 16. 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 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 so important that we all work hard to continue following our Community Standards. Students remain in a modified campus quarantine this week, and even after that ends all heightened Yellow Campus Alert Level conditions will remain in place.
I also want to take a moment to note that students are watching faculty and staff closely, and we all need to lead by example when it comes to following our Community Standards. When you are on campus, it’s critical that you wear a mask and physically distance. Please also remember that it’s important to make sure that your mask is fitted and worn correctly at all times, including covering both your nose and your mouth. If you see a colleague who is not adhering to the Community Standards, please remind them of the importance of doing so or notify your supervisor. A successful in-person semester will once again require all of us working together.
Thank you for all of your work.