FAQ Index

Interim and Spring Semester

Why are we shifting to online classes for Interim (December 26-January 28) when we have limited COVID-19 transmission on campus?
The omicron variant is causing cases to multiply at a rate we’ve never experienced in this pandemic, even in highly vaccinated campus communities much like our own. As of the week of December 20, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the variant was responsible for nearly three-quarters of all U.S. cases and would likely cause all cases by the end of December. This variant is significantly more transmissible than earlier versions of COVID-19. People who have been vaccinated, but not yet received a booster shot, are more vulnerable to getting omicron.

The variant is expected to surge nationwide during the month of Interim. Delaying our return to campus during that period provides a critical window of time when more of our community can get booster shots, we can strengthen our COVID-19 case management workforce and protocols, and learn more about how omicron is affecting our community. All qualifying students, faculty, staff, volunteers, independent contractors, and staffing agency employees are required to get booster shots by February 1, before the start of the next semester.

What is the plan for spring semester?
We intend to make a full, in-person return for spring semester, which begins February 8. Pausing much of our on-campus activity in January will give us the opportunity to strengthen our COVID-19 contact tracing and case management workforce and protocols, learn more about the impact of omicron, and allow us to return with more of our community fully boosted.

Will students and families receive any refund for Interim?
There will be no tuition or room refund for Interim. Students do not have separate tuition, room, or board charges during Interim. When students aren’t on campus for Interim in non-COVID years — either because they’re studying off campus or taking Interim off — they do not receive a refund.

Interim meal plan refunds will be provided for eligible students:

  • Full Meal Plan Refund: Students on a full meal plan for both fall and spring semesters will receive an Interim meal plan refund of $740.
  • Partial Meal Plan Refund: Students on a partial meal plan for both fall and spring semesters will receive an Interim meal plan refund of $370.

All others will be reviewed based on the individual circumstances. Interim meal plan refunds will be processed in February after the start of spring semester.

Students living on campus or participating in an off-campus program during interim do not receive a meal plan refund.

Will boosters be required?
As we announced on December 7, booster shots are required by February 1 for all students, faculty, staff, volunteers, independent contractors, and staffing agency employees. The vast majority of our community currently qualifies for a booster shot (five months past your second Pfizer dose, or six months past your second Moderna dose, or two months past your single Johnson & Johnson dose.) Report your booster shot using our COVID-19 reporting form.

All faculty and staff are required, as a condition of continuing employment, to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and to have received a COVID-19 booster shot by February 1, 2022, or within two weeks of eligibility for a booster. Independent contractors, staffing agency employees, and volunteers who are working on campus are subject to the same requirement. Individuals who need reasonable accommodation because of a disability or a sincerely held religious belief should contact vaccineaccommodation@stolaf.edu.

Find a booster appointment by using the CDC’s vaccine finder.

What are the COVID-19 testing requirements?
Students, faculty, and staff who return to campus for Interim are strongly encouraged to test 24-48 hours before returning to campus. Access to testing in the community may be limited, and we recommend buying or scheduling a test as soon as possible.

All students, faculty, and staff who will be living, working, or attending classes on campus during Interim must participate in two rounds of baseline testing in January. The first round of testing will be held Tuesday, January 4, through Thursday, January 6. Sign up for your testing slot now.

A second round of baseline testing will be held Tuesday, January 11 and Wednesday, January 12. Sign up for your testing slot now.

As during the fall, testing will continue to be available for students living on campus and faculty and staff working on campus when symptoms or exposure is reported using our COVID-19 reporting form. Also fill out the COVID-19 reporting form to report any positive test that you get on your own, whether you are on campus or not.

What are the masking requirements?
Starting December 26, masks are required indoors while on campus, regardless of vaccination status. The only exceptions are for students in their own residence hall room when there are no guests (other than their roommates), or faculty and staff in their enclosed office if they are the sole occupant. If you are off campus, we strongly encourage you to mask in indoor public spaces or crowded outdoor settings.

I am experiencing COVID-like symptoms, what should I do?
Stay home when you feel sick. If you live in campus housing or are regularly coming to campus, report symptoms using our COVID-19 reporting form, and get tested.

For students, if you are on campus, please remain in your residence hall room, report your symptoms using the form, and follow the instructions provided on your screen upon submitting the form. This chart provides a helpful resource for understanding what steps to take if you have symptoms, have been exposed to COVID-19, or test positive.

Non-emergency COVID-19 Medical Resources:

  • St. Olaf Health Services: 507-786-3063
  • COVID-19 information line at 507-646-1919

Another option for you is Timely Care, a new telehealth program for students that will provide FREE 24/7 medical and mental telehealth care.

Students on campus who need emergency medical assistance related to COVID-19 should call Northfield Hospital + Clinics at 507-646-1494 or go to the Emergency Department if it is an emergency.

For faculty, if you feel sufficiently well to teach, you are welcome to teach remotely. If you are unable to teach your class, you should alert your chair (or Associate Dean, if the chair is unavailable).

For staff, connect with your supervisor to work through a plan.

My roommate/classmate/colleague seems sick — what should I do?
Please remember that many faculty, staff, and students may be experiencing common illnesses, like seasonal allergies or a common cold. Do not assume that someone who is ill has COVID-19. Be mindful about spreading fear or anxiety and making assumptions about faculty, staff, or students. If someone has symptoms, encourage them to seek medical advice, and to fill out the Health Reporting Form.

Are visitors allowed on campus?
Only essential visitors are allowed on campus while we are at an Orange (high) Campus Alert Level. Visitors are expected to be fully vaccinated and boosted, and masked at all times. Admissions visitors are required to be vaccinated.

Students

How and when will I know whether I need to be on campus for Interim?
Students who have been pre-approved to be on campus during winter break may continue to do so.

Students who have not made arrangements to be on campus or return to campus during the break may return to campus only for specific, approved reasons, including musicians participating in St. Olaf Choir, St. Olaf Orchestra, and Jazz 1 ensembles and in-season athletes competing in varsity sports. Those groups will be required to follow heightened safety protocols, including frequent testing, and may need to shift plans based on COVID-related restrictions.

A limited number of lab or studio-driven classes will be held in person. The Registrar will be updating the status of Interim classes in SIS and indicating which ones will be online vs. in-person.

Will I be allowed to come back to campus for my student work position?
If you have been pre-approved to be on campus during Interim, you may continue to work. Students who will be living on campus or in the state of Minnesota are permitted to work remotely. Those who are not on campus because they reside in other states or internationally are not. Please check with your supervisor to confirm your student work plan.

What happens if I test positive over break and I am supposed to be on campus for a class?
If you test positive while off campus during break, you will need to remain isolated off campus for 10 days from the onset or symptoms or date of test. Use the COVID-19 Reporting Form to inform us of your positive test. Someone from the contact tracing team will be in touch. If you’re comfortable doing so, you can reach out to your professor directly. Otherwise your class dean can help liaise with your professors.

Will I still be able to participate in a practicum or off-campus learning experience?
Your program leader will be in contact with you directly about the plans for these programs.

I didn’t bring home my books or things that I need for Interim. How can I get them?
You may make an appointment to return for 30 minutes between Sunday – Friday of next week December 27-31. Your ID will be programmed to work for the specific time you sign up. If you live too far from campus to return, ask your roommate (best) or a friend to pick up your things and ship them to you.

If you still need books for interim.
For students studying off-campus, please place orders on the St. Olaf Bookstore website as soon as possible and the Bookstore team will ship them out early next week. With normal shipping times, most orders should arrive by the first day of class, although please realize shipping times may sometimes vary.

For students on-campus, please purchase your books in the bookstore to avoid shipping delays.

Faculty and Staff

How and when will I know what my plans need to be for Interim?
The campus is not closed, but faculty and staff who can work remotely during January should do so based on guidance from their Department Chair and Associate Dean or from their supervisor, who will be consulting with their Division leader.

Most faculty members will be teaching their courses online. Associate Deans will work with faculty members to determine whether courses with an intensive hands-on element (e.g., science labs and certain performing/fine arts courses) should be offered in-person. Faculty members should refer to direct communication from the Provost for more detailed information.

Please note the following: because some courses will continue in-person, staff colleagues who directly support these courses should expect to work on campus at least part of the time. Similarly, since a portion of our students will still be on campus, staff in “public-facing” offices need to ensure that they are able to meet the on-campus needs of faculty, staff, and students.

How will I handle student employment if my students aren’t on campus?
Some or all of your student employees may be studying remotely over Interim, and it is unlikely that they will be allowed to return to campus to work. Your student employees will know later in the week of December 20 whether they will be studying on or off campus. Students who live in the state of Minnesota are permitted to work remotely. Those who reside in other states or internationally are not. Please check with your student employees to confirm the following: (a) whether they will be on campus; (b) if their work can be done remotely; and (c) if they will not be on campus, whether they reside in the state of Minnesota and thus are able to work. If you need — but do not have — students to work on campus during Interim, please contact Human Resources at hrstaff@stolaf.edu with details of the work and skills needed, and they will do their best to find student employees from among the students who will be on campus.

Other Covid-19 Related Questions

Should I mask off campus?
Yes. We are asking that members of our community follow CDC guidance and take extra precautions to be responsible for their own health and safety both on campus and especially off campus. We strongly encourage you to use a high-quality mask like an N95, KN95, or KN94. If you don’t have access to one of those masks, opt for a mask with two layers of fabric, or layer a cloth mask over a surgical mask.

How do I wear my face mask properly?
The mask needs to (as much as possible) tightly enclose the area around the nose and mouth, from the bridge of the nose down to the chin, and extend onto the cheeks beyond the corners of the mouth so that there are no gaps when talking or moving one’s head. Consult the CDC masking guide for more information on how to wear a mask and what types of masks are best to use.

Where can I find information about the college’s vaccination rate or COVID-19 cases on campus?
The COVID-19 Campus Data dashboard is updated daily to provide current information about cases on campus and our vaccination rates.

I may have been exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19. What should I do?
The definition of a close contact is still anyone who has been within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more, cumulative throughout a day, regardless of whether you were masked or not.

  • If you were a close contact to someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19 and you are not fully vaccinated, stay in your room or at home. Don’t attend class or participate in activities. Monitor your temperature and other symptoms, and fill out the Health Reporting Form. A member of the college’s Contact Tracing Team will follow up with you. This chart provides a helpful resource for understanding what steps to take if you have symptoms, have been exposed to COVID-19, or test positive. This chart provides a helpful resource for understanding what steps to take if you have symptoms, have been exposed to COVID-19, or test positive.
  • If you are fully vaccinated, you should report your exposure immediately using the Health Reporting Form, mask up, and someone from the contact tracing team will be in touch with more instructions and testing dates.

How long will I have to isolate if I test positive for COVID-19 while I’m on campus?
For those who test positive, based on the recent recommendations from the CDC and our consultant, we will be moving to shorten the 10-day isolation period. People who test positive will be eligible to attempt to test out of isolation after seven days if they are not showing symptoms. While the CDC guidance allows release from isolation on day 5 without testing, we are a residential community and want to proceed cautiously as we start Interim. We will continue to look at the transmission dynamics in our unique population and revise isolation timeframes appropriately.

Where will I isolate if I test positive?
The College continues to follow MDH Guidelines for isolating students on campus. The College has a reserve of isolation rooms. Because we’ve been able to de-densify our campus, some students who test positive may be able to isolate in their rooms There will be bathrooms designated for students in isolation. Those students will be required to follow specific protocols, including for meal pick-ups. Students from the region may isolate at home if circumstances allow. Students who test positive will receive additional direction from case management.

I lost my COVID-19 vaccination card. Can I get a new one?
Unfortunately, the CDC and the Minnesota Department of Health do not give out replacement COVID-19 vaccination cards if one is lost after the second dose. If the person has had only their first dose, they can obtain a replacement card when they receive their second dose. If a person needs information from the card about the first dose to make an appointment to receive the second dose, contact the Minnesota Department of Health (or the Department of Health in the state where they received the COVID-19 vaccine) to obtain a copy of their immunization records, which will show their date of vaccination and which vaccine they received.

If a person who has lost their card has already had their second dose, the best course of action is to contact the pharmacy or health department where they got their vaccine via phone or through their website and request a copy of their immunization records. Some pharmacies, such as CVS, have vaccination records available online where a patient can get a digital copy of their vaccination record or print out a physical copy. All immunizations, such as COVID-19 vaccines, are reported to the CDC’s Immunization Information System (IIS), and every state has one. A person without a COVID-19 vaccine card can contact the health department of the state in which they received their vaccine and obtain a copy of their immunization record if they are unable to obtain one through the pharmacy.