April 30, 2021 at 3:12 p.m.
COVID-19 Campus Update
To St. Olaf College faculty and staff
From Campus Reopening Lead Enoch Blazis
Dear St. Olaf Community,
With less than a month left in the semester, things look like they are beginning to turn in a positive direction. We need to continue to remain vigilant against the COVID-19 pandemic and practice our Community Standards, but it looks like our efforts are paying off.
This week’s on-campus COVID-19 testing continues. Of the 1,356 test results received so far, 4 were positive. Last week we conducted 1,454 tests and 11 were positive, so our case counts are trending in the right direction. Rice County’s 14-day case rate per 10,000 people also decreased this week, and is currently at 48.51.
Yellow Campus Alert Level Remains in Place
Although we are moving in the right direction, the continued prevalence of COVID-19 cases on campus and the elevated Rice County case rate means we will remain in our Yellow Campus Alert Level. We will continue to monitor conditions on campus to see if the cases on campus and the surrounding community continue to moderate, and will adjust the Alert Levels appropriately in the coming weeks. In the meantime, the Yellow Campus Alert Level restrictions I’ve mentioned over the past few weeks remain in place.
Over the last several weeks, many of you have taken advantage of the on-campus vaccination clinics or have been able to find vaccines elsewhere, thanks to an increase in supply. We continue to encourage all Oles — faculty, staff, and students — to get vaccinated as quickly as possible.
If you have not yet reported your vaccination status, please do so now.
While we all wish to return to our pre-pandemic way of life, it is not prudent to change community mitigation and social gathering protocols until at least 80% of the campus population is fully vaccinated. Self-reporting your vaccination status through the Health Reporting Form is our best tool to move toward resuming traditional academic, athletic, and social activities. All information will be maintained by Human Resources and St. Olaf Student Health Services in the same way as all other confidential records.
Vaccinations and Mitigation Measures
Those who are fully vaccinated (two weeks past their final vaccine dose) do not need to quarantine if they have been in close contact with someone who tests positive. This week the CDC updated its mask guidelines for fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people. Our Community Standards remain in place and are still applicable given this guidance. Because of abundant airflow, physically distanced activities outside are very low risks. We will continue to require fully vaccinated individuals to wear a mask outside when you can’t physically distance and/or when you are in a large group.
Please remind your students that an increasing number of summer jobs, internships, and programs require employees and participants to be vaccinated, so getting the vaccine now is a good way for them to be prepared for their post-college experience. Getting vaccinated will also help ensure a smoother, more robust return to campus in the fall.
Community Vaccination Rate
At this point, 410 faculty and staff (51%) have reported that they are completely vaccinated, and 111 reported that they have had the first shot of their vaccine — for a total of 521 faculty and staff (65%) reporting that they are fully vaccinated or in the process of receiving a vaccine.
So far 651 students (23%) have reported that they are completely vaccinated, and 1,137 students reported that they have had the first shot of their vaccine — for a total of 1,788 students (62%) reporting that they are fully vaccinated or in the process of receiving a vaccine.
This is great progress, but we need everyone in the community to continue getting vaccinated as soon as possible and reporting your vaccination status to the college.
Update on Summer
Increased vaccination levels means we can allow the Upward Bound, SSS Summer Bridge, and SSSD programs to offer in-person summer programming. All programs will be in close coordination with the St. Olaf testing and contact tracing teams and the Minnesota Department of Health. Upward Bound students will be sent home if they test positive or become in close contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus.
Beginning in June, we will allow college travel for faculty and staff. We strongly encourage employees not to travel until you are fully vaccinated. People who are traveling will have to adhere to the CDC guidelines for domestic and international travel.
Thank you for your continued commitment to our proactive health and safety precautions. By working together as one campus community, we can continue our progress to a fuller on-campus experience in the fall.