St. Olaf College | COVID-19

February 20, 2021 at 8:04 a.m.

Update on COVID-19 Baseline Testing and Quarantine

To St. Olaf College studentsFrom Campus Reopening Lead Enoch Blazis

Dear Oles,

As of this morning, we’ve wrapped up the second round of COVID-19 baseline testing. This week we conducted 3,274 tests and had 1 positive result, which means we had a 0.03% test positivity rate for the second round of testing.

Simply put, this is great news. The low number of positive tests we had throughout our two rounds of baseline testing is a clear indication that all of you remain committed to our Community Standards. Thank you.

As a result, we’re able to end our modified campus quarantine now — a few days ahead of schedule. This means you will be able to move around campus this weekend before in-person/hybrid classes begin on Monday.

Here’s what will be open this weekend:

  • Saturday, February 20:
    • 7 a.m.–9 p.m.: Buntrock Commons will be open.
    • 8 a.m.–11 p.m: Academic buildings will be open. Students will be able to access academic buildings at the card access doors (please note that the doors will not be unlocked in order to prevent the public from accessing our buildings).
    • 9 a.m.–8:45 p.m.: Tostrud Center will be open. All COVID-19 protocols will be in place, and you must make an appointment here to use the facility.
    • 1–5 p.m.: Rolvaag Memorial Library will be open. (The music library will remain closed this weekend.)
  • Sunday, February 21:
    • 7 a.m.–9 p.m.: Buntrock Commons will be open.
    • 8 a.m.–11 p.m: Academic buildings will be open. Students will be able to access academic buildings at the card access doors (please note that the doors will not be unlocked in order to prevent the public from accessing our buildings).
    • Noon–10:30 p.m.: Tostrud Center will be open. All COVID-19 protocols will be in place, and you must make an appointment here to use the facility.
    • Noon–10 p.m.: Rolvaag Memorial Library will be open. (The music library will remain closed this weekend.)

The outdoor areas of campus are also available to you. There’s ice at Ytterboe, snow in most places, cleared sports fields, and the Natural Lands. Consider getting outside for some sun and fresh air.

Although the modified campus quarantine has ended, please remember that all of the Community Standards and heightened Yellow Campus Alert Level conditions remain in place. Despite the low number of cases we have on campus, the Minnesota Department of Health has advised colleges and universities to open in-person spring semesters at a higher level of alert (equivalent to our Yellow Campus Alert Level) as a precaution. As the semester continues, we will continue to monitor the indicators that determine our Campus Alert Level with the hope we can ease restrictions further.

While we remain in our Yellow Campus Alert Level:

  • Masks must be worn at all times outside your room.
  • All students are required to stay on campus. If you have an essential reason to travel off campus (such as work or a medical appointment), you are required to fill out this form to be reviewed and approved by Student Life. Students who live off campus should keep their activities limited to their residence and campus, and also need to fill out the form above for anything beyond that.
  • Residence Halls and Honor Houses are closed to visitors, including students who live in other residence halls or houses. You should only enter the residence hall/house you reside in.
  • You must report to the college if you have a positive test result, have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, or if you have COVID-19 symptoms. Please report using this form. The ProtectWell app will no longer be used, so delete that app from your phone.
  • Please maintain your “household” bubble on campus. The Minnesota Department of Health defines this as your residence hall floor or housemates. This includes eating and other social activities. No more than five people at a time are allowed in common areas in residence halls and student housing, and you must maintain 6 feet of physical distance.
  • Only approved group activities and those that fulfill academic requirements will be allowed. This includes:
    • Meals
    • Classes and labs
    • Required and approved music and fine art activities
    • Approved athletic and extracurricular activities
    • COVID-19 testing

Symptomatic and Surveillance Testing
Now that we have completed our COVID-19 baseline testing, we will be conducting weekly surveillance testing of 525 randomly chosen, on-campus community members (students, faculty, and staff). You must participate in this testing if you are selected. In addition to random surveillance testing, the college will increase surveillance testing of athletes who are practicing in approved groups (in accordance with guidance from MDH and the NCAA) and continue to do targeted testing of individuals more likely to have been exposed to COVID-19. We will also conduct regular weekly testing of food service, facilities, residence life, and public safety employees.

If you have COVID-19 symptoms and it has been determined by the St. Olaf Contact Tracing Team that you need to be tested, you will receive a test on campus. You will be required to isolate until you receive your test results.

Vaccine Update
We remain in regular contact with local public health officials about providing the COVID-19 vaccine to our students, faculty, and staff. At this point, health officials still don’t have a clear timeline for us on when we will be able to staff and manage a vaccine distribution program on campus for our own students and employees. The latest guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health is that if you are able to get the vaccine through your healthcare provider or another distribution point, you should go ahead and do so at the time it becomes available to you. MDH launched the COVID-19 Vaccine Connector, a tool that helps Minnesotans understand when, where, and how they may be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine. As soon as we have more information about distributing the vaccine on campus, we will share that with the campus community.

You’ve done an incredible job reestablishing our campus bubble. Let’s keep up the great work.

Enoch