St. Olaf College | COVID-19

May 14, 2021 at 2:07 p.m.

Masking on Campus

To St. Olaf College faculty and staff
From Campus Reopening Lead Enoch Blazis

Dear St. Olaf Community,

Given yesterday’s announcements from the CDC and Governor Walz on masking, I’m writing to provide clarity on what our expectations are on campus. With just a couple weeks of classes and finals remaining, we will stay the course and follow the guidelines I outlined in my last COVID-19 update:

  • Masking is not required outside unless you are in a group of 500 or more.
  • Masking is required inside.
  • Physical distancing is not required outside.
  • Physical distancing is required inside.

The new masking guidance from the CDC and Governor Walz only applies to fully vaccinated people, and we are mindful of the fact that most of our students have either not yet had the opportunity to get vaccinated, have not yet had their second dose of the vaccine, or are not yet 14 days past their second dose (which is when an individual is considered fully vaccinated). Just 43 percent of St. Olaf students have reported that they are fully vaccinated.

Based on the number of students who have reported that they are in the process of getting vaccinated, in a few weeks the number of fully vaccinated people on campus will be much higher. Our students have done an incredible job of accessing vaccines as soon as they became eligible, but the vaccine simply hasn’t been offered to the traditional college-aged population long enough for most of our students to be fully vaccinated at this point.

It’s also important to note that we are still seeing COVID-19 cases on campus and we do currently have community members in isolation and quarantine. Given the density of our campus population and our congregate living environment, we need to continue to take steps to mitigate the spread of the virus — and that includes masking and physically distancing indoors.

We have consulted with our epidemiologist, who agrees that continuing to mask and physically distance indoors on campus is the best approach. We will continue to take any new guidance that the Minnesota Department of Health has for higher education institutions into account. For now, though, we need to remain cautious and vigilant so that we can finish the semester strong over the next few weeks.

If you have not yet reported your vaccination status please do so through the Health Reporting Form (students may also report directly through the Student Health Portal). This is our best tool to move toward resuming normal academic, athletic, and social activities.

– Enoch