Campus Updates

Posted: March 25 4:32 p.m. | March 25 11:16 a.m. | March 23 5:21 p.m. | March 18 4:02 p.m. | March 18 12:46 p.m. | March 18 12:02 p.m. | March 17 9:49 a.m. | March 17 9:44 a.m. | March 16 5:26 p.m. | March 16 3:57 p.m. | March 14 4:02 p.m. | March 14 2:53 p.m. | March 13 6:40 p.m. | March 13 4:30 p.m. | March 13 11:47 a.m. | March 13 9:58 a.m. | March 12 4:18 p.m. | March 12 4:00 p.m. | March 12 3:42 p.m. | March 11 5:13 p.m. | March 11 11:03 a.m. | March 5 3:12 p.m. | March 4 12:50 p.m. | February 28 4:00 p.m. | February 27 12:03 p.m.

March 25, 2020 at 4:32 p.m.

To St. Olaf College studentsFrom Pamela McDowell, Associate Dean Of Students For Residence Life

Hi everyone,

Well, I am writing to you sooner than I had said I would in my last email. You all received a message from President Anderson this morning announcing that we will not return to in-person classes this spring. It is good to have clarity, and now we can all figure out some logistics as we move forward to finish the semester. I am sorry that we didn’t get closure to our housing experience. In the next few weeks Residence Life will come up with ways for students in the halls and houses to share memories from this year with each other.

This email should answer the questions you may have — but if not, feel free to email me. I will respond as soon as I am able, but please give me 24 hours to do so before emailing again.

The most important takeaways from this email:

  • There is no immediate need for you to get your belongings from campus (in fact, you cannot return to campus at this time).
  • There is one more form that everyone needs to fill out AFTER reading this email.
WHEN TO PICK UP YOUR ITEMS

Those of you within driving distance of campus should plan to return to campus to pack up and take your belongings at a later date. This cannot happen right now — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has issued a shelter in place order that will remain in effect through April 10. At this time, you and your families should plan to come to campus either the weekend of April 24-26 or May 1-3 to remove your items from campus. We will have storage available for furniture from 10 a.m.–3 p.m. on both weekends, as space permits.

If you live farther away and cannot return to pack up your items, we will pack them up and put them in campus storage for you.

I need to know the plan for everyone’s belongings. I need every student to fill out this form — even if you have already taken your belongings with you.

RETURN TO CAMPUS ONCE

We ask that all of you who will be returning to campus to retrieve your belongings do so only once, on one of the weekends listed above. In an effort to limit the flow of people through campus at this time and protect the health and safety of the students and staff who remain on campus, we do not want students and families returning multiple times or on various days. Do not come to campus if you are sick.

SHIPPING YOUR ITEMS

We can ship your items if your items are packed properly for shipping. The shipping may be at your expense and put on your student account.

CAMPUS KEYS

If you are not returning to campus to retrieve your belongings BUT still have your keys, please mail them no later than April 15, 2020 to:

Residence Life Office — KEYS
1520 St. Olaf Avenue
Northfield, MN 55057

Keys do not travel well through the mail. Please put keys in a padded envelope or wrap in a paper towel before putting in an envelope.

CAMPUS HOUSING

Students currently staying on campus may remain in their current housing for the time being. If you can go home or leave campus, you should make plans to leave as soon as possible. For students who must stay on campus, we will eventually have everyone move into one or two halls. Even with the governor’s new shelter in place order, we will still have essential staff on campus to ensure students who remain have food, security, and other key services.

CREDIT FOR ROOM/BOARD

The College has been reviewing how to reimburse families for room and board. We took immediate action this week by providing a reimbursement of up to $1,125 per student depending on your current room and board plan. This immediate reimbursement is meant to cover the time away from campus through April 17. We are also working on a plan for reimbursement to cover room and board through the rest of the school year, and we will be in touch soon with those details. If you have immediate questions please send an email to tuition@stolaf.edu.

ROOM DRAW FOR NEXT YEAR’S HOUSING

We will prepare for an electronic room draw for sometime in May/early June. You will receive more information May 1 about the process. Between now and May 1 you should think about who you would like as roommate(s). The most important part of room draw is picking a compatible roommate(s); the other logistics of choosing a room we will figure out and communicate later.

FOR SENIORS

I know that many of you have questions about commencement, the cap and gowns you ordered, and other senior traditions. We will provide additional information in future communications.

I hope this email has helped answer many of your logistical questions. Offices all around campus are working hard to offer online experiences for you to engage in campus life once classes begin on April 6. Check out these virtual programming options.

As always, thank you for your patience.

-Pamela

March 25, 2020 at 11:16 a.m.

To St. Olaf College studentsfrom David R. Anderson, President Of The College

Dear Oles,

I am writing to you with a heavy heart to say that we will not be returning to on-campus learning this semester. Throughout the decision-making in our response to the pandemic, we have strived to preserve the possibility of returning to on-campus learning this spring while always keeping the safety of our students, staff, and faculty as our main priority. It is now apparent that it is no longer realistic to think we could safely resume life on campus this spring.

The rapid spread of the virus across the country, the numerous shelter in place orders in states and communities, and the thoughtful but stringent restrictions imposed by our governor here in Minnesota all testify to the severity of the COVID-19 outbreak. Because our students come to us from everywhere, the likelihood is high that some of those who would return to campus might unknowingly carry the virus. We do not have the ability to effectively practice social distancing when the campus is full, nor do we have the ability to quarantine or self-isolate more than a few handfuls of students who contract the virus. This is an important step for us to take so that we do our part to slow the spread.

I am pained by the consequences of this decision for all of you but especially for the Class of 2020. It is unlikely that we will be hosting commencement at the end of May. The spring semester of your senior year is full of milestones, and the baccalaureate and the commencement ceremonies are the most meaningful. We will find a way to honor you and to celebrate with you and your families. I don’t know when or how, but I promise you that.

You will be hearing shortly from others at the College about details for claiming belongings you may have left on campus and other details. We will continue to house and feed those who for compelling reasons cannot return home.

I don’t want to end this message on a sad note. Your academic year is not over. Classes will resume online April 6 and so will the learning. You will be able to finish the semester, earn credits for your classwork, graduate if you are a senior, and advance towards your St. Olaf degree if you are not. Your College has been here for 145 years, and we are not going away. We will be here for you as soon as we can welcome you back. I am eager for that day.

Regards,

PDA

March 23, 2020 at 5:21 p.m.

To the faculty and academic staff of St. Olaf Collegefrom Jan Hanson, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Dear Oles,

We know that uncertainty — on multiple fronts — grips the world. In addition to causing deep concern for the health and safety of our loved ones, the current crisis is also placing serious financial strain on many families. To help address this concern, we will be processing housing and meal credits this week that will be applied to your student account to address room and board expenses for your time away from campus. Once there is greater clarity regarding whether students can return to campus for classes later in the semester, we will revisit the issue of further credit for the fees you’ve paid for room and board through the rest of the semester.  Below are the details of the credit and the steps to receive the funds.

Campus Housing

  • Current students who have been residing on campus before spring break will receive a credit of $550.
  • Students with a single occupancy room will receive a credit of $650.
  • Students currently remaining on campus in college housing will not receive a credit.

Meal Plans

  • Current students with a full meal plan will receive a credit of $575.
  • Current students with a partial meal plan will receive a credit of $300.
  • Students currently remaining on campus and on a meal plan will not receive a credit.

The housing and/or meal plan credit will be applied to your student account by Friday, March 27. If your account was not paid in full, this will reduce what you owe. If your account was paid in full, you can request a refund to be mailed to you or sent via direct deposit. You may also leave the credit on your account to apply to next year’s charges. The credit being issued on March 27 will not impact your financial aid award for the current semester.

To request a credit:

  • Log in to the Student Information System (SIS) and complete a Refund Request.
  • Choose whether to have the credit refund mailed to your permanent address or have the funds sent to your bank account through direct deposit.

To set up direct deposit:

We stand ready to work with you on any questions or concerns you may have. Please contact us at tuition@stolaf.edu.

Jan

March 18, 2020 at 4:02 p.m.

To St. Olaf College stafffrom David R. Anderson, President Of The College

Dear Staff Colleagues:

Our College is a very different place today than it was a week ago. Most of our students have departed, and many of our co-workers are doing their jobs remotely. As a result, the movement and activity that give our campus its energy have largely given way to empty spaces and quiet times.

This is as it should be while we comply with our Governor’s Executive Order taking steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by closing public spaces, canceling public events, and asking us all to keep our distance from one another.

But I know that many of our staff remain on campus every day and every night, working very much hands on to care for our students who cannot go home, to see that they are housed, fed, kept safe, and kept engaged. This work will continue into our extended spring break, and I want to take this moment to offer a special thanks to our facilities, student life, and other administrative staff who have shouldered the in-person work of delivering on our mission and supporting our students.

Just as faculty have had to turn on a dime and figure out how to teach their courses online, other staff have had to turn on a dime and figure out how to deliver on their office’s or program’s mission in a new and uncertain environment. We’ve seen a lot of entrepreneurship, creativity, collaboration, and good will as that work gets done. To everyone engaged in it, thank you.

The qualities that our staff bring to work everyday in normal times are the same qualities that will carry us through this pandemic and keep us strong as we emerge from it.

I offer you my thanks, my prayers for your well-being, and my best wishes.

David

March 18, 2020 at 12:46 p.m.

To the faculty and academic staff of St. Olaf Collegefrom Marci Sortor, Provost and Dean of the College

Dear Faculty and Academic Staff Colleagues,

Please find attached a communication from the Emergency Academic Committee regarding changes to the academic calendar and academic policies in response to the changed circumstances in which we teach and advise students and in which students are learning. I hope that you find these decisions, plus their rationales and guidance, helpful as you support the college’s mission, St. Olaf students, and each other.

Thank you,

Marci

March 18, 2020 at 12:02 p.m.

To St. Olaf College studentsfrom Ericka Peterson, Registrar Of The College

Dear Students,

Please find attached a communication from the Emergency Academic Committee regarding updates to the academic calendar and academic policies in response to the changed circumstances for Spring 2020.

Thank you,
Ericka

March 17, 2020 at 9:49 a.m.

To St. Olaf College facultyfrom David R. Anderson, President Of The College

Dear Colleagues,

Here is a message that I just sent to students. The Governor’s Executive Order is a game-changer.

On a personal note, I have been wanting to say to all of you how sorry I am for the disruption that our response to the pandemic has caused to your classes, and thus to you. I know how committed you are to your craft and to your students, and I am loath to get in the way of your good work.

I particularly regret what must be the aggravation you are experiencing because of the constant changes in our approach to the pandemic. I am attempting, perhaps futilely, to preserve as long as I can the option for us to return to in-person teaching. I’m particularly mindful of our seniors, who will miss the kinds of culminating experiences that go with your last semester at St. Olaf and of their families, as well, who want that experience for them and who want to see them commence, in person, on our campus green, on a beautiful spring day. But attempting to keep our options open has a price, and faculty are bearing the largest share of it.

Marci will be in touch soon with more details about how to handle this latest wrinkle. Thank you for your patience.

David

March 17, 2020 at 9:44 a.m.

To St. Olaf College studentsfrom David R. Anderson, President Of The College

Dear Oles,

The ground has shifted under us again with the Governor’s executive order yesterday closing basically all public spaces to prevent people from congregating and thus to prevent the spread of COVID-19. I know that many of our classes have already moved online in anticipation of our move to online learning after spring break and that many students have already taken advantage of the opportunity to return home.

I’m writing now to advise every Ole who does not have a compelling reason to remain on campus through the end of the week to return home now. The Governor is asking us to disperse and not to gather in numbers, and it’s our duty to do so as best we can. You do not need to stay on campus to finish a class that has not moved online.

Students who have signaled their intention to remain on campus over spring break should re-evaluate those plans. If you can go home, or to the home of a friend or relative, you should. If this is not possible, you must be in touch with Pamela McDowell regarding your plans, and we will work with you to meet your needs.

Many colleges have decided now that students will not return to campus after spring break and have canceled commencement. I am reluctant to do that until we absolutely must. We are always going to prioritize your health and safety, and that of our faculty and staff, over other considerations, but if it’s possible to foresee a time when we could resume life on campus yet this spring I would like to preserve that option. We will make the decision about returning to campus at some point this spring by April 10.

I offer my best wishes and prayers for your well-being to you all.

– PDA

March 16, 2020 at 5:26 p.m.

To St. Olaf College faculty and staffFrom Jacqueline Christensen, Associate Director of Human Resources

Dear Colleagues,

Each day brings us new information about the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. I truly appreciate the grace that so many of you have been demonstrating as we adjust to changes in our lives. Please know that St. Olaf is committed to your safety and well-being. I understand this can be an exhausting and overwhelming time, so I ask that you remain calm, keep informed by credible sources when you are emotionally prepared, take time to rest, and be supportive of your colleagues, our students, and our community.

I’m writing to share more information about how the college will implement plans to change the way in which our staff work. These new measures are largely intended to maintain the continued operations of the college while also increasing social distancing, which public health experts recommend as the best way to slow the spread of COVID-19.

First and foremost, the expectation for all employees is to continue working.

Departments should be working to implement several social distancing strategies, such as:

  • Staff In-Office/On-Campus Rotation — While we will need to keep offices open on-campus during regular office hours this week, departments may do so with minimal staffing. This will reduce the number of essential personnel traveling on/off campus and limit potential exposure.

  • Essential Meetings — Plan to use means other than in-person, such as Google Meet or other tools to maintain social distancing guidelines from the state.

  • Postponing/Cancelling Gatherings — While on campus, be planful to take measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 such as postponing or cancelling in-person gatherings.

Your supervisor will discuss further details with you regarding your department’s contingency plans. The Coronavirus Response Team will continue to follow up with additional communications that will be posted, along with the most up-to-date information and FAQ, on St.Olaf’s COVID-19 website.

Please refer to the following resources:

  • Request work accommodations if you have a medical condition that could predispose you to a more severe reaction to COVID-19 and your request will be confidentially reviewed.

  • Report here if you will be missing work due to your own self-quarantine or are ill from COVID-19, or caring for a family member who has become sick due to COVID-19.

  • Staff Frequently Asked Questions

    • Remote work policy

    • K-12 school closings

    • Technology needs and resources

    • Social distancing

Thank you for your ongoing attention to this unprecedented situation. I have confidence that our community will work together to help to support and protect each other.

Sincerely,

Jacqueline Christensen on behalf of the Coronavirus Response Team
Associate Director of Human Resources

March 16, 2020 at 3:57 p.m.

To St. Olaf College stafffrom David R. Anderson, President Of The College

Dear Colleagues:

I am following up on my email to you yesterday with the plan for remote working for staff.

But first let me just take a moment to wish you well. This is an anxious time. We are beset with concerns for ourselves, for family, for friends, for our country, and — not least — for our students and colleagues. There will be difficult days ahead, so it falls to us to take care of one another, doing everything we can to ease tension, reduce anxiety, and quell fear. Thank you for what you are doing to support the College, and thank you for the flexibility and adaptability you have already shown in this querulous time.

Consistent with the guidelines of the Minnesota Department of Health regarding social distancing, we are going to transition beginning this Wednesday to remote work for staff. I am asking supervisors to identify those persons on their team who can work remotely and to offer that option. For offices and departments that must stay open, I am asking supervisors where possible to arrange shifts so that team members can share opportunities to work remotely. If you have questions regarding remote work, please speak with your supervisor. Members of the President’s Leadership Team will be ultimately responsible for these arrangements within their areas.

The expectation is that you continue to work your regular schedule from a remote location, when you are working remotely. Some of you will choose to continue working on campus. If you do, we expect that you will be scrupulous about following social distancing guidelines.

Human Resources will follow up with answers to your most commonly asked questions.

You can count on this remote work policy being in place until at least April 17th. By April 10th we will have determined whether to resume on-campus classes or to continue online and what that will mean for where and how we work.

Be Well,

David

March 14, 2020 at 4:02 p.m.

To St. Olaf College studentsFrom Pamela McDowell, Associate Dean Of Students For Residence Life

Hey everyone,

I am writing to lend some guidance and provide more information about the college’s plan for the next five weeks. First, though, I want to acknowledge that this is hard for all of you. I hope I am able to answer your questions on the front end with this email — but as you have questions, please reach out to me. Many of you have unique circumstances, and I will try to help you through those or direct you to someone who can.

Preparing to leave campus
As President Anderson noted in his message, St. Olaf now plans to shift to online instruction after the extended spring break until at least April 17. You need to take all class materials, medications, and other essential items with you when you leave for spring break. In past communication, I have advised you to leave your belongings in your room — and I think that is still good advice. However, you may take your belongings with you now OR you may pack up your belongings and leave them in your room and in the event you couldn’t return to campus later this spring we would move your items to storage.

If you do nothing to pack your room and on April 10 we announce that in-person classes cannot resume, we would expect students within six hours of driving distance to return by May 10, 2020, to get their items. For others who cannot return, we would box and store your items.

Before you leave, you should remove any perishable items from your refrigerator but leave it plugged in.

March 16-March 20
  • Classes are in session.
  • Students who would like to leave early should do so. Professors will be in touch about plans for individual classes.
  • Students leaving for break need to take their essential belongings and all class materials.
March 21-April 5
  • Extended spring break so that faculty can prepare for online instruction to begin on April 6.
April 6-April 17
  • Classes resume online.
  • College communicates by April 10 whether to resume in-person classes after April 17.

Leaving before the end of this week
Follow the guidelines above, and notify residence life that you have left campus at this Google form. It is important that I know if you are or are not on campus.

Staying on campus from March 21–April 17
Housing and dining will remain open for students who need to remain on campus, including international students. We are expecting anyone who has somewhere else safe to go to leave campus for the duration, and for students who are staying elsewhere not to visit campus during this time. Any student who needs to remain on campus needs to register using this Google form. I recognize this is the third form I have asked you to fill out. I am sorry BUT I would like to have all information in one location. It is also expected that anyone who stays on campus agrees to stay in the city limits of Northfield and Dundas.

Just like during winter break, IDs will stop working for building access unless you are signed up to be on campus. They will work until noon on Saturday, March 21, and start again on April 17. Students not registered to stay will not be allowed to come and go freely on campus.

Technology Needs
If you are concerned about your ability to take classes online please fill out this IT form. IT will be working with students individually.

Below my signature are excerpts about illness from my email March 12 — still very important.

Please take care of yourself. Take a few minutes to decompress from all of this. This is really stressful. That being said, take time for yourself today. Go for a walk, watch a movie, read a great book, talk with your friends!

Pamela

If You Are Sick
Follow the CDC guidelines if you are feeling sick. If you have influenza-type symptoms, you should stay in your room. You are most contagious when you have a fever (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius). You should not return to classes or  work until you are fever-free without fever-reducing medication for 24 hours.

If A Friend or Classmate is Sick
Some students have reached out because they’re concerned about a friend or classmate who appears ill. Please remember that many students are still experiencing common illnesses like cold and flu. Do not assume that someone who is ill has COVID-19. Be mindful about spreading fear or anxiety and making assumptions about staff or students who may be from the geographic areas at the epicenter of the COVID-19. If you have concerns about a particular student and send me their name, I will follow up to ensure they are doing appropriate self-care and taking measures to prevent exposing others. You can also encourage fellow students who are sick to stay in their room and practice self-care.

March 14, 2020 at 2:53 p.m.

To St. Olaf College faculty, staff, students, and parentsfrom David R. Anderson, President Of The College

Dear Oles,

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt everything and everyone. Each day — even each hour — our situation changes. So do our plans.

That’s why I’m writing to you now. The recent decision by airlines drastically to reduce flights and capacity, the possibility of further restrictions on domestic travel, and the concerns many of you are expressing for your well-being, have prompted us to change course.

If you must, given travel concerns, leave campus before the end of the week, you should. If concerns for your well-being make you uncomfortable remaining on campus, you should also leave before the end of the week. The College is open, and classes will continue through Friday, March 20. This is all happening so quickly that your professors may not be ready to teach online this week. The guidelines from the Minnesota Department of Health regarding social distancing and the steps the College has taken in light of those guidelines remain in place.

Classes will resume online on Monday, April 6. They will be conducted online for two weeks, through April 17. We will make the decision on April 10 whether and, if so, when to resume in-person classes. We will continue to offer instruction, either online or in-person, through the remainder of the semester. We of course want to have commencement on campus. We will wait and see whether that’s possible.

March 16-March 20
  • Classes are in session.
  • Students who would like to leave early should do so. Professors will be in touch about plans for individual classes.
  • Students leaving for break need to take their essential belongings and all class materials.
March 21-April 5
  • Extended spring break so that faculty can prepare for online instruction to begin on April 6.
April 6-April 17
  • Classes resume online.
  • College communicates by April 10 whether to resume in-person classes after April 17.

We know this message will raise questions about the guidelines for remaining on campus during this revised schedule and what to do about your belongings. Pamela McDowell will be in touch with more information.

We know we could have made this decision sooner. The challenging thing about this pandemic is that it pits two of our most deeply held values against each other. The first, and the most important, is your safety and well-being. The other is our belief that education happens best in person, in community, on the Hill. We are doing our best to manage this conflict between those values. Thank you for your patience.

– PDA

March 13, 2020 at 6:40 p.m.

To St. Olaf College studentsfrom The St. Olaf Coronavirus Response Team

Dear St. Olaf Community,

We’re writing to provide several pieces of important information related to COVID-19 resources and guidance.

Non-Essential Travel
As we noted in our previous message, St. Olaf is cancelling all college-sponsored, non-essential travel. This policy only applies to St. Olaf-sponsored travel. It does not apply to personal travel. Any student concerned about whether they should travel over spring break is welcome to remain on campus. Any student who plans to remain on campus must register with Associate Dean of Students Pamela McDowell using this form.

Seeking Care If You Are Sick
Northfield Hospital + Clinics would like those who are experiencing symptoms and think they may have contracted COVID-19 to call before going to the hospital. During the day (7:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday), individuals can be screened by calling the clinic at 507-646-1494. After hours, individuals should call the Northfield Hospital Emergency Department at 507-646-1100.

Mental Health Support
We understand that this global pandemic has created additional stress and anxiety for many community members. We encourage all members of the campus community to practice self-care. Mental health resources are available on the St. Olaf Counseling Center website. Information regarding COVID-19-related resources specifically may be found here.

– The St. Olaf Coronavirus Response Team

March 13, 2020 at 4:30 p.m.

To St. Olaf College students, faculty, and stafffrom The St. Olaf Coronavirus Response Team

Dear St. Olaf Community Members,

This afternoon, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm held a press conference to address the statewide response to COVID-19. Commissioner Malcolm announced new guidelines for COVID-19 community mitigation strategies. They focus on using social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus.

At this time, St. Olaf will continue to hold in-person classes. The Minnesota Department of Health has provided guidelines that apply to events beyond what is considered “necessary for completing routine educational activities (e.g., classes and labs).”

To follow these recommendations and work to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19, St. Olaf College will:

  • Immediately cancel all college-sponsored events through at least Sunday, April 5 (which is the end of the extended spring break). One of the goals of this measure is to limit the exposure of our students on campus to visitors from off campus.
    • “Events” include all non-academic public or social occasions. This includes public concerts, performances, and athletic contests.
    • We will communicate with you as we make decisions on events beyond April 5.
  • Immediately cancel all college-sponsored, non-essential travel.
    • This includes travel by employees, student organizations, and athletic teams.
  • Support social distancing measures when it is practical. Social distancing means remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet) from others when possible and practical.
  • Open all rooms in the second level of Buntrock Commons for dining.
    • The cancellation of large events on campus will create space on the second floor of Buntrock Commons for more spaces to eat. More space means greater social distancing. We will still have community dining, but will be more attentive to these guidelines. You may bring your plates from Stav Hall to any room on the second floor in Buntrock Commons. When you are done, you must return your plates, cups, and utensils to Stav Hall.
  • Determine when and where remote work by staff aids our efforts while continuing to support the core operations of the college.

The Coronavirus Response Team and faculty members continue to prepare for the option of moving exclusively to remote learning. We will continually evaluate that option based upon guidelines and direction from the Minnesota Department of Health.

As we’ve said in our previous messaging, it is important that we all work together to take practical, prudent steps to prevent the spread and impact of COVID-19. Thank you for your continued support and cooperation.

– The St. Olaf Coronavirus Response Team

March 13, 2020 at 11:47 a.m.

To St. Olaf College studentsFrom Pamela McDowell, Associate Dean Of Students For Residence Life

Hi everyone,

I am writing to let you know of changes you will be seeing starting today in Stav Hall in an effort to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19. Bon Appetit has continued to adjust their practices to ensure food safety for our population. There will be ongoing adjustments, but as of today you will see the following:

Requirement to wash your hands
You should wash your hands before you enter food service. Please wash with soap and hot water.
All trays will be removed from Stav Hall
Trays pose greater risks to our food service area since they are slid from place to place, facilitating germ spread. Removing trays also eliminates the need to sanitize that additional surface space.

Removing trays increases the bandwidth of Bon Appetit’s dishwashing machines, enabling team members to run silverware and dishes through the machine more often and more times to ensure better sanitation. * Please note that students with disabilities will have access to trays or another mode of accommodation.

Plates, cups, and utensils are not allowed outside of Stav Hall
Members of the St. Olaf community will not be allowed to take plates, cups, and utensils outside of Stav Hall. Dining areas such as Stav Hall and the Cage are sanitized regularly, while other areas of campus are not. Eliminating plates, cups, and utensils outside of dining areas will help reduce the spread of germs across campus.

Removing self-service stations
Bon Appetit will remove all “self-service” areas in Stav Hall. The entire salad bar will be removed, and Bon Appetit will offer pre-packaged salads and make dressing packets available. Alternatives will be made for all other self-service stations. Changes will also be made to the way other food items — such as condiments and spices — are offered.

Swiping your own card
Bon Appetit has instructed cashiers to allow anyone who wants to swipe their own card to do so. They are also working to get proxy readers installed on Stav and Cage registers as soon as possible that will allow students to swipe their cards over the reader.

Please pay attention to the signage and instructions about all of these changes in Bon Appetit. We all need to do our part to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Pamela

March 13, 2020 at 9:58 a.m.

To St. Olaf College students, faculty, and stafffrom The Coronavirus Response Team

Dear St. Olaf Community,

The Minnesota Department of Health reached out to all institutions of higher education (IHEs) this morning with an update.

Health officials at the department reiterated that “we are not recommending IHEs close at this time or that they move solely to distance learning.” All colleges and universities — including St. Olaf — are sharing their plans with the Minnesota Department of Health, and we are all in frequent, continuous contact with the department and each other. We are all in this together, and we will work together as a larger community of colleges and universities in Minnesota to take steps based on the advice of state public health experts.

The Minnesota Department of Health indicated that they will provide further guidance today.  That guidance may include more information on travel, gatherings, and social distancing practices. We will update you as soon as we get further information.

In the meantime, we are taking additional measures on campus to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19. Beginning today in Stav Hall, we will no longer be using trays, and we will be removing self-service stations. Pamela McDowell will provide more detailed information about these changes in a follow-up email to students, which we will share with the rest of the community.

Please note that we’ve updated the FAQ page on the COVID-19 web page, and we encourage all members of the campus community to review it. Many of the questions we are receiving are answered here.

– The St. Olaf Coronavirus Response Team

March 12, 2020 at 4:18 p.m.

To St. Olaf College studentsfrom Pamela McDowell, Associate Dean of Students for Residence Life

Hey Oles,

I’m writing to provide more information ahead of the college’s extended spring break.

Preparing for Spring Break
At this time, there is no plan to shift to online instruction after spring break — but as we all know, this situation is evolving rapidly and this could change at any point. For this reason, we recommend that you take all class materials, medications, and other essential items with you when you leave for spring break.

At this time, we are advising you to leave your belongings in your room. You do not need to pack up your belongings.

Staying on Campus During Spring Break
During the college’s extended spring break (March 21 to April 5), housing and dining will remain open for students who need to remain on campus. Any student who chooses to remain on campus needs to register using this Google form. We will be showing movies over the break, as we always do. We will not be sending buses to trips away from campus. Next Wednesday, I will send my typical break email with times that offices and services will be open.

Travel During Spring Break
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has now designated all of Europe with a Level 3 Travel Health Warning. The U.S. State Department has raised the worldwide travel advisory to Level 3 (“Reconsider Travel”), urging U.S. citizens to reconsider travel abroad due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Given how rapidly the travel guidance from the CDC and State Department is evolving, we strongly discourage any member of the campus community from any international travel at this time. As we have said in previous communications, any community member who travels to a Level 3 country must report it to St. Olaf using this form. All travelers returning from a Level 3 country must self-quarantine away from campus for 14 days upon return to the U.S.

Anyone with travel plans should continue to monitor the CDC’s travel information and alerts. All travelers should be aware that evolving public health guidance could make it difficult for you to return to campus in a timely way, and you may be required to self-quarantine away from campus for 14 days. We advise travelers to bring along items that you may need if your return to campus is delayed.

Students Returning to Campus from Semester 2 programs
All St. Olaf students studying abroad in Europe have been advised to return home immediately, and they will self-quarantine away from campus for 14 days. For students who cannot return to any location other than St. Olaf, the college is making arrangements to support their self-quarantine away from campus for 14 days. The students who were in Italy have already left and are self-quarantining. Director of International and Off-Campus Studies Jodi Malmgren is in direct contact with all of these students to provide support and guidance from the college.

If You Are Sick
Follow the CDC guidelines if you are feeling sick. If you have influenza-type symptoms, you should stay in your room. You are most contagious when you have a fever (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius). You should not return to classes or work until you are fever-free without fever-reducing medication for 24 hours.

If A Friend or Classmate is Sick
Some students have reached out because they’re concerned about a friend or classmate who appears ill. Please remember that many students are still experiencing common illnesses like cold and flu. Do not assume that someone who is ill has COVID-19. Be mindful about spreading fear or anxiety and making assumptions about staff or students who may be from the geographic areas at the epicenter of the COVID-19. If you have concerns about a particular student and send me their name, I will follow up to ensure they are doing appropriate self-care and taking measures to prevent exposing others. You can also encourage fellow students who are sick to stay in their room and practice self-care.

As you have questions or concerns, let me know.

Pamela

March 12, 2020 at 4:00 p.m.

To St. Olaf College staff and facultyFrom The Coronavirus Response Team

Dear St. Olaf Staff,

We want to take a moment to address specific concerns and questions that staff may have as the college continues planning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As previously communicated, St. Olaf is extending spring break by a week to monitor the spread of COVID-19 and to prepare for a potential shift to online forms of instruction if the Minnesota Department of Health or CDC should recommend that students be sent away from campus.

In the meantime, the college remains open and its operations continue with appropriate measures to protect the health of the community. Consequently, all staff, including student workers, who are well are expected to continue their work as usual until further notice. Thank you for your extraordinary efforts to support our community during this time of uncertainty and transition.

We are currently expecting to continue operations on campus, but because the response to COVID-19 is changing so rapidly, it’s time to plan for the possibility that more social distancing measures will be required, such as sending students home to continue their classes online and having some staff work remotely. We are engaging in that planning now, and we will keep you updated on its progress.

Health And Wellbeing
The health and wellbeing of our staff is of utmost priority. It is essential that we all continue to follow the CDC guidelines to prevent people from getting sick or spreading the virus to others.

In addition, the CDC is providing guidelines for the workplace that include:

  • Using videoconferencing for meetings when possible

  • When videoconferencing is not possible, hold meetings in open, well-ventilated spaces

  • Consider adjusting or postponing large meetings or gatherings

  • Assess the risks of business travel

Pre-Existing Conditions
The CDC has identified groups that are predisposed to more severe health risks as a result of contracting COVID-19. Please refer to the CDC website for more information on these pre-existing conditions and work with HR if you have additional questions or to request work accommodations.

If You Are Sick Or Someone In Your Household Is Sick
Follow the CDC guidelines if you are feeling sick. If you have influenza-type symptoms, you need to stay home. You are most contagious when you have a fever (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius or above). You should not return to work until you are fever-free without fever-reducing medication for 24 hours. For those on the St. Olaf health insurance plan through Blue Cross Blue Shield, you can access virtual care by visiting:  https://www.doctorondemand.com/.

If someone in your household is sick, please take extra precautions. If they have been diagnosed with COVID-19, follow the CDC guidelines.

If You Are Aware Of Someone Who Is Sick
Please remember that many staff, faculty, and students are still experiencing common illnesses like cold and flu. 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 who may be from the geographic areas at the epicenter of COVID-19. If someone has symptoms, encourage them to seek medical advice.

Leave Policies And Assistance
At this time, we have not made changes to our various leave policies (e.g., PTO, Sick Leave Reserve, Short-Term Disability, FMLA, etc.). HR, as a part of contingency planning, is considering changes to these policies and will be updating the community accordingly.

We understand this global pandemic and uncertainty on campus can create additional stress and anxiety. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. We have mental health online resources available to help if you should need them. If you or a family member are in crisis, you may contact the Life Assistance Program.

Please refer to the COVID-19 web page for ongoing updates. In the coming days, we ask that everyone help and support each other.

– The Coronavirus Response Team

March 12, 2020 at 3:42 p.m.

To St. Olaf College faculty and stafffrom David R. Anderson, President Of The College

Dear Colleagues,

Thank you for displaying calm and patience while we are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The college cares about you, your safety, and your well-being. St. Olaf isn’t just a place where you come to work: it’s a community where students live, study, play, and grow together and where faculty and staff support them and each other. That’s why our response to the current pandemic must always focus on what’s best for our community.

Our response to the COVID-19 pandemic is guided by the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and by the Minnesota Department of Health. They have the expertise and experience to give us the best advice going forward. We are also mindful of our commitment to provide — as best we are able under the current circumstances — to our students the experience they came to St. Olaf to enjoy, especially our seniors, who want to graduate together on campus in the company of their family, friends, and supporters rather than virtually in their room at home.

Our college has survived 145 years by displaying wisdom, prudence, trust, determination, and resilience in the face of several challenges. Working together, we will weather this crisis.

In the meantime, I ask two things of you. The first is that you pay careful attention to the college’s COVID-19 web page. It is updated regularly, and its FAQ page contains the answers to many of the questions you may have and other updates will be provided today. The second, and most important, is that all of us take special care of ourselves and of each other. This isn’t the time for suspicion, profiling, or anger. We didn’t choose to be affected by COVID-19, but we can choose how we respond as a community to it. Let’s be our best selves. Oles can. Oles will.

Regards,

David R. Anderson ’74

March 11, 2020 at 5:13 p.m.

To St. Olaf College students, faculty, and stafffrom The Coronavirus Response Team

Dear St. Olaf Community,

The safety and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff is always foremost in the college’s thinking and planning. We’re writing today with an update about the college’s planning regarding COVID-19.

The conversation and concerns about the global COVID-19 outbreak have intensified on college campuses across the nation in the past few days, including here at St. Olaf. Members of the Coronavirus Response Team and college leaders meet daily to evaluate what this rapidly evolving situation means for Minnesota and our campus. We realize that many colleges and universities, including the University of Minnesota, are taking a variety of actions. We’re closely following guidance from the CDC and Minnesota Department of Health, and are in regular contact with our peer colleges.

In keeping with this guidance — while also being mindful of the fact that today the World Health Organization declared the global COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic and this outbreak is rapidly evolving — St. Olaf has made the decision to extend spring break by one week. Students should plan to begin their spring break as scheduled on Saturday, March 21, and plan to return to campus on Sunday, April 5. Classes will resume Monday, April 6.

During that extended break, faculty and staff will continue working on plans and preparations should we need to quickly shift to online instruction at a later date. At this time there is no plan to shift to online instruction, but as we all know, the situation is evolving rapidly and this could change at any point. Please take all class materials, medications, and other essential items with you when you leave for spring break.

If the situation changes, we will communicate those updates directly with the campus community. We will also continue to update this list of St. Olaf trips and events that have been impacted by COVID-19.

Many of you have contacted us seeking guidance on spring break travel. Our current recommendations are based on guidelines from the CDC and the Minnesota Department of Health. At this time, these public health agencies do not advise any restrictions on domestic travel or international travel beyond those associated with travel to Level 3 countries.

While there are no restrictions beyond the advice we provided on March 5 (look under “Campus Updates”), the MDH advises individuals to assess their own risks, and those of vulnerable populations with which they have contact, as they consider their travel plans. Anyone with travel plans should continue to monitor the CDC’s travel information and alerts. All travelers should be aware that evolving public health guidance could make it difficult for you to return to campus, and you may be required to self-quarantine away from campus for 14 days. We advise travelers to bring along items that you may need if your return to campus is delayed.

We’re also fielding numerous questions about events and large gatherings. At this time, all events scheduled through March 20 will proceed as planned unless the organizers decide otherwise. Individuals should periodically look for updates on canceled events and be prepared if scheduling changes become necessary.

College housing and dining will remain open for students who need to remain on campus over spring break. Any student who needs to remain on campus must register with Associate Dean of Students Pamela McDowell using this form. She will send a follow-up message to students with further guidance and instruction.

The COVID-19 web page addresses frequently asked questions, provides up-to-date guidance from public health organizations, and outlines plans and procedures at St. Olaf. We encourage all community members to frequently check the page for factual information and resources.

If you have questions about COVID-19, contact coronavirusresponse@stolaf.edu.

Our community works because people care for one another and for the best interests of our college. We appreciate your attention to this message, and we ask for your continued support.

– The Coronavirus Response Team

March 11, 2020 at 11:03 a.m.

To the faculty and academic staff of St. Olaf Collegefrom Marci Sortor, Provost and Dean of the College

Dear Faculty and Academic Staff Colleagues:

I know that you are worrying about how to be ready when the path forward is not certain. As you are undoubtedly aware, colleges and universities are pursuing a variety of strategies in response to COVID-19, depending on their location and the risk they perceive. President Anderson, the Coronavirus Response Team and the President’s Leadership Team are tracking these developments and the guidance of the CDC and the Minnesota Department of Health. As we consider the options before us and do our best to anticipate patterns of transmission, the PLT is considering student and employee well-being, our commitment to students’ education, and questions of logistics. We are working to provide you guidance in a timely way in advance of the spring break.

While no one would wish to face the possibility of COVID-19 affecting our community, there is no better community with which to face it than ours. We are smart, creative, resourceful, and we know our stuff. We have a mission that clarifies what we need to do. Thank you for devoting your innovative and collaborative problem-solving skills to the challenge that we all face.

Strategies for Addressing Critical Functions: Identifying and supporting back-ups
Associate Deans and directors in your areas are working to identify how to cover critical functions in the case that students, staff or faculty members become ill or must work/teach remotely.

  • Continue to explore options for people filling in for others and review the documentation needed for people to step in, and is it located where others can find it and is it up-to-date?

Travel
In the absence of travel restrictions imposed by federal or state authorities, please exercise good judgement regarding college-related and personal travel and what it means for your own health and potential exposure of others on your return. In deciding whether to travel, keep in mind that even if you do not become ill, if you are exposed you will need to self-quarantine.

  • For those planning to travel:
    • Evolving public health measures could make it difficult to return to campus in a timely way. Bring along items that you may need to teach remotely if you are delayed.
    • Purchase your air tickets no earlier than 2 weeks in advance (air carriers are themselves developing policies in response to rapidly changing situations) and wait to pay registration fees until close to the deadline.
    • Check the CDC and Minnesota Department of Health websites regarding the latest travel guidance before purchasing tickets.
  • In the case of needing to cancel travel:
    • Many airlines are allowing travelers to reschedule their tickets for up to a year from the point of purchase, including for ticket categories that are typically not changeable or refundable. Some carriers are also waiving or refunding change fees. Contact your carrier to see how it can accommodate these changes.
      • Cancelation and change fees will be accepted as IPAT or PDG expenses.
    • Request reimbursement of registration fees.

For teachers and supervisors of students
As much as we can, we need to think about how we can complete courses through either in-class or remote teaching. In addition to being ready to teach online, consider:

  • Your attendance/participation policy. Make sure it does not inadvertently suggest to students that they should attend class if they are ill.
    • Take a couple of minutes at the beginning of your next class to review your attendance/participation policy. If you intend to modify it to better accommodate potential absences in the event of someone becoming ill or being exposed to COVID-19, explain the changes and make sure they appear on your Moodle or other course site
    • The “COVID-19” site has good advice for students, professors and managers on when to stay away from class or work. See the “FAQs
  • Assignments and the amount of the course grade that each comprises. Give thought about how your students can successfully complete their work if classes are disrupted or if the semester must end early.
  • Keep up on all grading.
  • Readiness for the period immediately following spring break, in the event that your travel or that of your students is disrupted, or in the case that you or a few of your students must self-quarantine after exposure to the virus.

The Associate Deans have asked their Faculties to think creatively about alternate means of course delivery and organization of courses, labs and studios. To help you consider what you might be able to accomplish by teaching remotely, please consider:

  • The Academic Continuity site developed by the Libraries and IT
  • CILA programming on remote teaching, March 17. Watch for announcements for additional programing on the topic.
  • Walk-in sessions with instructional Technology: starting March 11, an Instructional Technology Specialist will be on-hand at the DiSCO, 3-5 Monday through Friday.

For college-wide updates and guidance, visit St. Olaf’s COVID-19 website, where the Coronavirus Response Team posts information and guidance. Please be sure to continue to address the guidance provided in my March 4 email.

Thank you,

Marci

March 5, 2020 at 3:12 p.m.

To St. Olaf College students, faculty, and stafffrom the Coronavirus Response Team

Dear St. Olaf Community,

As the situation with the global coronavirus outbreak continues to rapidly evolve, the college is closely monitoring guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Department of State, and the Minnesota Department of Health.

We’re writing with two important updates:

1. The Coronavirus Response Team has developed a COVID-19 web page to address frequently asked questions, provide up-to-date guidance from public health organizations, and outline plans and procedures at St. Olaf. We encourage all community members to review this resource.

2. It is the current recommendation of the CDC and the Minnesota Department of Health that individuals returning from countries with a Level 3 Travel Health Notice (currently China, Iran, Italy, and South Korea) self-quarantine for 14 days upon returning to the U.S.

St. Olaf advises that all travel to CDC Warning Level 3 countries should be canceled or deferred to a later date, but we understand that some individuals may choose to travel to these countries or will be returning from them in the coming weeks. Based on the recommendation of the CDC and Minnesota Department of Health, any employee, student, or other community member traveling to a Level 3 country should inform St. Olaf about their travel plans and self-quarantine away from campus for 14 days upon return to the U.S. Individuals traveling to Level 3 countries should report their travel plans here.

Students, faculty, staff, and other campus personnel who have plans to travel to a Level 3 country in the coming weeks should:

  • Carefully evaluate and possibly reconsider travel plans
    • Many airlines and hotels are changing their cancellation policies and waiving fees, and individuals with plans to travel to areas with serious outbreaks may wish to consider traveling elsewhere or remain on campus.
    • St. Olaf Residence Life will work with students who want to stay on campus over spring break instead of traveling.
  • Plan for a 14-day self-isolation away from campus upon return to the U.S.
    • Individuals will need to arrange for off-campus lodging for these 14 days.
    • Students will need to determine whether and how their professors will accommodate their absences. Students should contact their professors in advance of travel to determine what accommodations might be made.
    • Staff will need to work with their supervisors and faculty will need to work with their department chairs to make arrangements for taking this amount of time away.
    • During this 14-day self-isolation period, the CDC recommends that you:
      • Stay home and avoid contact with others.
      • Do not go to work or school.
      • Take your temperature with a thermometer two times a day and monitor for a fever above 100.4° F (38° C).
      • Watch for cough, trouble breathing, or other signs of respiratory infection.
      • Discuss your work situation with your employer or professors before returning to work or class.
  • Closely monitor federal government restrictions on return to the U.S.
    • All travelers should monitor the CDC’s travel information and alerts right up until flight time, and remain aware that identified Level 3 countries can change.
    • Travelers to countries with widespread COVID-19 outbreaks may have their return to the U.S. impacted by governmental units in those countries as well as by any limitations that may become effective in the U.S. St. Olaf does not have control over these restrictions and regulations, and will be limited in the assistance that it can provide to travelers.

Once again, at this time these restrictions apply only to community members who will be traveling to and returning from Level 3 countries. However, individuals should be mindful about the CDC’s recommendations regarding travel to other countries with heightened travel health notices. The CDC currently lists Japan as a Level 2 country, which indicates sustained community spread, and travelers are encouraged to practice enhanced precautions.

If you have health-related or general questions about COVID-19, contact coronavirusresponse@stolaf.edu.

If you have questions about how this impacts off-campus study, contact ios@stolaf.edu.

Thank you for your patience as we work to update and share information as efficiently and accurately as possible.

– The Coronavirus Response Team

March 4, 2020 at 12:50 p.m.

To the faculty and academic staff of St. Olaf Collegefrom Marci Sortor, Provost and Dean of the College

Dear Faculty and Academic Staff Colleagues:

As you know, President Anderson has formed a Coronavirus Response Team that is charged with developing a plan for the college, consulting with units on campus as part of the planning process and ensure that the plan is informed by CDC advisory notices and warnings, and developing a communication strategy (see David’s February 27 email). Mary Walczak, Associate Dean of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, is leading this group. Of course, at present no one—not national and international experts in epidemiology, let alone leaders and community members at colleges like St. Olaf—can predict the rate and extent of the spread of the coronavirus-19 strain or its severity. What we can do is be ready for its arrival.

The Deans Council, combined with Valeng Cha (Director of GFCR) Kathy Glampe (Director of CAAS), Brian Greening (Director of SSS), Roberta Lembke (CIO for Libraries and IT), and Ericka Peterson (Registrar), met on Monday with Mary for a preliminary discussion of critical operations for the Academic Division. We can expect guidance from the Coronavirus Response Team in the days ahead. In the meantime, the deans and directors listed above advised that our areas should begin now thinking about preparations. What follows are some preliminary guidelines for how we should prepare to sustain the academic program in the case of disruption, whether the disruption is sporadic and limited or widespread.

This is not the first time that St. Olaf has readied itself for a potential health crisis and related disruptions to the academic program. In 2007-08, we prepared for a potential outbreak of the Avian Flu. Since that time, we have expanded our abilities to use technology to teach and learn remotely. Most faculty members now have laptops. The college’s internet capacity, digital resources and IT staff can fully support remote teaching and learning. Whether an entire course needs to go on-line or a handful of students need an alternative to attending class for a few weeks, the college’s technology infrastructure is robust enough to handle it.

We advise the following first steps. While some of the steps pertain mostly to either faculty or staff members, there is much overlap in what we do to offer the academic program. So, please read through all of these steps carefully:

  • For your area or department or program, identify someone who can take over if you get ill. Make sure that documentation of what you are doing is up-to-date so that they can step in if necessary. If you are teaching a course, give that person access to your Moodle site. Identify those functions for which no one seems able to step in for a time, and alert your supervisor or Associate Dean.
  • Identify what you could do remotely. For offices and functions that are “outward facing,” consider how you could maintain the quality of your interactions if these could not be face-to-face.
  • Review your course plans and Moodle presence to ensure that they are up-to-date and fully functional. As much as you can, make sure that materials that you might distribute in other ways go onto Moodle or are available through e-reserves.
  • Consider how you would teach if you needed to take your courses fully remote for a few weeks or for several. Could things proceed exactly as they would in-class, or would you need to think through class exercises and assignments? Could you support a mixture of on-line or asynchronous and instruction? Also, consider how you could support individual students who might need to study with you remotely because they are quarantined.
  • If your course has penalties for absences, consider how or whether to make accommodations for students who are ill or quarantined.
  • If your courses have elements that require students’ physical presence (such as labs, student teaching, nursing clinicals, dance and music performance, and studio courses), give some thought about which elements might have a remote option.
  • Give your chair/program director access to your course Moodle sites so that these can be reassigned if you fall ill.
  • Alert your chair if you must miss class.
  • IT will be reviewing who has laptops. If you do not have a laptop or a home computer, look for IT communications regarding options.
  • IT will be offering information about making sure that your computer/laptop has video software and will make training available regarding its use. Many AAAs have skills in this area and you should consider going first to them for your questions about using software.

We also advise that you be mindful of the fear and stigma surrounding COVID-19, especially in these early days, when information is patchy. This CDC page provides information and guidance. The sooner we can ready ourselves in the ways outlined above, the more able we will be to respond to a variety of possible disruptions. As the Coronavirus Response Team develops a plan for the college, and as we learn more about this disease and how best to respond to it, the CRT will communicate with you about steps that we should take to prepare ourselves and the college.

Sincerely,

Marci

February 28, 2020 at 4:00 p.m.

To St. Olaf College students, faculty, and stafffrom David R. Anderson, President of the College

Dear Colleagues and Oles,

St. Olaf College is closely monitoring the COVID-19 (often called the “coronavirus”) outbreak, and is actively preparing to take appropriate steps to ensure the safety of our students, employees, and visitors. While there are currently no confirmed cases in Minnesota, the World Health Organization has confirmed cases in more than 50 countries around the world.

The college is actively reviewing information from the World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Department of State, and the Minnesota Department of Health.

I formed a Coronavirus Response Team to coordinate the college’s response should there be an outbreak of the virus on campus, to stay abreast of developments with the virus, and to provide updates to the campus community. These updates will contain specific action steps that community members should take if there are confirmed cases in Minnesota or on our campus.

While the college’s goal is to provide timely information to keep the community informed, it’s also important to balance this preparedness and vigilance with concern for each other — especially for members of our campus community who are from, or have family members who live in, countries that have been impacted. The college will work directly with students who may have concerns about returning home for break or this summer.

Please review the information and guidelines below.

Travel Advisories
Knowing that many community members may have travel plans, particularly as spring break draws near, we urge you to check the CDC and the U.S. Department of State guidelines for the latest developments and know that these guidelines are subject to change. We advise that all travel to CDC Warning Level 3 countries should be canceled or deferred to a later date.

Off-Campus Study
The spread of COVID-19 may impact our International and Off-Campus Study programs. We are reviewing our off-campus offerings carefully for this summer and beyond, and the college will contact those directly impacted.

We have not made any changes to our current St. Olaf programs, and we are assisting students enrolled or planning to enroll in programs offered by other institutions.

The college’s International and Off-Campus Studies Office regularly monitors a variety of international events (disease, natural disasters, political upheaval, etc.) and has procedures in place to protect the health and well-being of our students off campus. The office is also in regular contact with international government officials and the college’s partners and universities around the world.

Prevention
CDC prevention steps, including frequent hand washing and covering coughs, are important precautions for all of us to take. Faculty and staff are encouraged to make adjustments for students and colleagues who are sick to help prevent the spread of all viruses.

Seeking Treatment
If you develop symptoms associated with COVID-19 (fever, cough, and other signs of respiratory illness), you should be evaluated by local resources as listed on the Health Services website. Public Safety can transport students who are ill to the Northfield ER.

If you have health-related or general questions about COVID-19, contact coronavirusresponse@stolaf.edu.

If you have questions about how this impacts off-campus study, contact Jodi Malmgren at malmgren@stolaf.edu.

Sincerely,

David

February 27, 2020 at 12:03 p.m.

To St. Olaf College stafffrom David R. Anderson, President of the College

Dear Colleagues,

I have formed a Coronavirus Response Team to plan for how to respond should there be an outbreak of the virus on campus, to stay abreast of developments with the virus, and to communicate with the campus and our other key constituencies about our plans. The membership of the group and its charge appear below.

When you encounter members of the group on campus, please thank them for agreeing to step up and take on this role. Our College works because faculty and staff are willing to pitch in when asked and to serve the community.

Regards,

David

Coronavirus Response Team

Membership

Mary Walczak, Chemistry, Associate Dean for Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Chair
Carl Lehmann, General Counsel
Pamela McDowell, Residence Life
Jacqueline Christensen, Human Resources
Elisabeth Haase, Environmental Health and Safety
Kari VanDerVeen, Marketing and Communications
Marie Sampson Health Services

Charge

  • To develop a plan for the College to respond to an outbreak of coronavirus on campus
  • To scale the plan for different levels of outbreak
  • To consult with units on campus who need to be part of creating and executing this plan
  • In developing this plan, to stay current on advisory notices and warnings from public health officials, government offices, and other appropriate sources
  • To develop and execute a communication strategy for key constituents regarding the College’s planning for an outbreak of Coronavirus on campus
  • To report regularly to the President

David R. Anderson ’74
President