May 7, 2021 at 1:02 p.m.
To St. Olaf College students, faculty and staff
From Campus Reopening Lead Enoch Blazis
Dear St. Olaf Community,
We got very good news this week! Governor Walz announced yesterday that with COVID-19 cases ramping down in Minnesota and increasing numbers of people fully vaccinated, the state will begin rolling back restrictions. These statewide trends mirror what we’re seeing on campus, where over the past few weeks COVID-19 cases have decreased and the number of people vaccinated has increased. We’re seeing a lot of good indicators that we’re moving in the right direction, so as of today we are moving to a Green Campus Alert Level. I want to thank you for all of your hard work, patience, and diligence this semester that has led us to this point.
Moving to Green Campus Alert Level
Our Green Campus Alert Level guidelines have been updated based on the new guidance:
Community Standards Required
- You are still required to report COVID-19 symptoms, test results, and vaccinations through the St. Olaf Health Reporting Form.
- Everyone on campus is expected to continue to adhere to our Community Standards. Face coverings will continue to be required indoors and are recommended outdoors when physical distancing cannot be maintained.
- All staff, faculty, and students need to continue to stay home when they are sick.
Classes, Athletics, Music, Clubs, and Other Student Activities
Will continue as currently structured, with mitigation measures in place. As appropriate, updated guidance will be coming through these organizations.
Social Gatherings (excludes classrooms and structured events/meetings)
Indoor social gatherings are limited to 50 people, and outdoor social gatherings have no maximum group size.
Must be pre-approved by the appropriate supervisor in your department. Indoor events should follow the capacity limits as listed in the 25 Live Scheduling system. Outdoor events have no limits for capacity. Masking is still required for all indoor events and for outdoor events that are over 500 people. Any indoor event prior to May 27 requires six foot distancing. All food and beverage needs should be coordinated with Bon Appetit using the firstname.lastname@example.org alias. Bon Appetit has created a specific reception menu that is both feasible for their team to produce and is mindful of COVID-19 safety precautions. Departments should keep all events on campus only.
- Residence Halls are open to inter-campus visits. The maximum number of students allowed in each room is twice the number of residents (so if two people live in a room, a maximum of four students may be gathered there). Unless the entire group is part of the same “social bubble,” you must all be masked and maintain 6 feet of physical distance when together.
- Students are encouraged to stay on campus, however they are allowed to leave to socialize or work in surrounding communities while following the Community Standards. If you need to stay overnight off campus, you must fill out this form to be reviewed and approved by Student Life so they can coordinate appropriate arrangements for quarantine and testing when you return.
- Approved visitors and essential service providers only.
- All buildings are open and functioning, but in some cases with stricter access.
- All on-campus dining areas are restricted to students only.
As President Anderson shared with the Class of 2021 this morning, the state’s lifting of restrictions means we can have an in-person graduation for our seniors that allows guests. The participants and guests at the events will still have to be masked. We realize this last-minute change of plans will make it difficult for some families to attend in person, but we have been following the MDH guidelines to keep everyone safe and made this pivot as soon as the governor announced the rollback in restrictions. More specific information will be sent to seniors and families directly. All signature events including Commencement will be live-streamed on our website.
Of the 1,169 surveillance and targeted tests we conducted this week, 0 were positive. Rice County’s 14-day case rate per 10,000 people also decreased, and is currently at 34.82.
At this point 69% of St. Olaf faculty and staff and 68% of students have reported that they are fully vaccinated or in the process of being vaccinated. Indications are that our vaccination rates helped to slow the virus that was present on campus, so we strongly encourage all students, faculty, and staff to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
Have you reported your vaccination status yet? If not, please do so now! Self-reporting your vaccination status through the Health Reporting Form (students can also report directly through the Student Health Portal) is essential so we can track the level of vaccination in our campus community and is our best tool to move toward resuming normal academic, athletic, and social activities.
What are the personal benefits of reporting your vaccination status? 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.
- Do not need to participate in on-campus COVID-19 surveillance and targeted testing.
- Do not need to quarantine if returning from a multi-day trip away from campus.
- Will be ready for fast-approaching summer internships, post-graduate jobs, and other programs and activities off campus that may require participants to be vaccinated.
- Will be ready to have as close to a normal experience on campus this fall.
While we are in a great position here on campus, I want to acknowledge the very difficult conditions related to COVID-19 in other countries where many of our international students and their families reside. I encourage everyone to continue to support these students.
The end of the semester is just around the corner, and we are on track to end in the way we had hoped. Let’s all keep up the great work.