St. Olaf College | COVID-19

March 16, 2021 at 9:57 a.m.

Update on COVID-19 Testing and Reminders for Rest Day

To St. Olaf College studentsFrom Campus Reopening Lead Enoch Blazis

Dear Oles,

Last week marked our third consecutive week of on-campus COVID-19 surveillance testing. Of the 651 surveillance, symptomatic, and targeted tests we conducted, we had 3 positive results. Of the 336 student-athletes and coaches tested, 0 had positive results.

It’s important to note that although we had just a few positive test results, a number of campus community members are in quarantine because of our expanded social bubbles. This is a good reminder for all of us about the importance of adhering to our Campus Alert Level restrictions and being mindful of the number of close contacts we have.

Another important thing to note is that Rice County’s 14-day case rate per 10,000 people increased last week, and is currently at 21.74. This increase, combined with an increase across the state in COVID-19 variants, should prompt all of us to remain vigilant in taking precautions to mitigate the spread of the virus. We will continue to monitor county and campus case numbers, and remain in contact with county and state health officials.

Rest Day Reminders
Instead of spring break, we will have three “rest days” sprinkled in throughout the semester. The first of those rest days is this Wednesday, March 17. (The other two will be on April 7 and April 27.)

Classes will not be held this Wednesday, and faculty and staff have been asked not to program other events or activities. Oles have accomplished a great deal of academic success already this year. This day is meant to help you recharge and reconnect safely.

In spite of the spring snow, consider getting outside for some fresh air and activity. The Natural Lands are available to you in addition to the outdoor spaces on campus that we know are favorite relaxing spots. Anything you can do outdoors instead of indoors — including eating, exercising, and socializing — provides an extra level of protection against the virus.

New state health guidelines announced last week limit student group gatherings to 15 people for indoor activities and 50 people for outdoor activities.

While you may now leave campus to travel into Northfield and Dundas, it is extremely important to be cautious outside our bubble and adhere to all Community Standards, including masking, physical distancing, and frequent handwashing.

We are still in a Yellow Campus Alert Level, and the following guidelines remain in place:

  • Masks must continue to be worn at all times in public, including when you’re with your “social bubble” in common areas.
  • If you want to leave campus for more than a day, you are required to fill out this form to be reviewed and approved by Student Life. Upon your return, you will be required to lay low in your room and take a COVID-19 test immediately and again 5-7 days after returning. “Laying low” means that until those tests results are back, you may not socialize or attend college activities and should only go to class and pick up “grab and go” options from Stav Hall.
  • 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 viral symptoms. Please report using this form.
  • Only approved group activities and those that fulfill academic requirements will be allowed. This includes:
    • Meals
    • Classes and labs
    • Daily chapel and Sunday worship in Boe Memorial Chapel
    • Required and approved music and fine art activities
    • Approved athletic and extracurricular activities
    • Events and gatherings approved through Student Activities (see Guidelines for Student Organizations here)
    • Informal social gatherings (hanging out) of no more than 15 people indoors and 50 people outdoors. Additional guidance on social gatherings from MDH can be found here.
    • COVID-19 testing

Vaccine Updates
The Minnesota Department of Health is steadily expanding the number of individuals eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. As vaccines become available in Rice County, we will continue to notify eligible campus community members. We strongly encourage all St. Olaf community members to use the MDH Vaccine Connector in order to be notified when you meet criteria for vaccination.

State Guidelines Update
Gov. Walz announced Friday that the state will roll back a number of COVID-19 restrictions. Gyms are now allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity, and a larger number of people are allowed to gather for events with physical distancing and masking. With these changes in guidelines, the St. Olaf Admissions Office will begin offering a limited number of in-person campus tours for students admitted to the Class of 2025. Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Chris George will send a follow-up message detailing the safety precautions that will be in place for these tours.

We all have an important role to play in ensuring our Ole community stays safe and healthy. Thank you for remaining patient and vigilant.

Enoch