We update this page frequently as new information becomes available.

New FAQs are added at the top of their relevant sections.

Preparing for Fall Term

What factors would cause Carleton to adjust its plans for fall?

We are continuing to monitor the pandemic situation around the country and at other institutions of higher education, paying close attention to small, residential liberal arts colleges like Carleton, as well as those whose earlier return to campus will provide valuable experiential data. We are weighing this learning with what we know about our own local community and environment and the public health guidance being issued by the State of Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). Among the important trends we are watching in our area are the number of tests available and being administered, positive test rates, hospitalization capacity, adherence to community standards designed to address public health, and the presence of outbreaks and clusters of infection.

The goal of our testing, contact tracing, quarantine, isolation, and other public health strategies is to keep the infection reproduction number at Carleton as low as possible. There are several key data that will be collected to help us track this—in particular, the number of students on campus who test positive, daily symptom reports, quarantine and isolation space capacity, and case clusters tied to specific events or behaviors. Guidance not just from the MDH but also from the Rice County Public Health Department and our external consultants is also critical in setting our future course. Such attention to trends and data will help us anticipate shifts in the environment and adjust our plans accordingly.

What changes are being made to campus restrooms in light of COVID-19?

Campus restrooms are disinfected daily by custodial staff, and disinfecting wipes are available for individual use as needed. All restrooms are currently being reviewed to accommodate physical distancing. Sinks and other fixtures that are too close to one another will be taken out of service in order to maintain 6 feet of separation. We expect some reduced capacity with this approach and will consider other options, like installing partitions, for those that will be significantly affected.

Which supplies will the college supply? What must my department/office provide?

The college will supply reusable masks for each faculty and staff member, and each student; disposable masks for campus visitors; hand sanitizing stations at each building entrance; sanitizing spray and wipes; and uniform signage for all spaces on campus. These supplies will be made available before the start of the term. Departments and offices may request other supplies through this form.

Do we need to have furniture moved in our areas?

Possibly. The Return to Campus Operations Team is available to walk through your space and assess your needs. To arrange for a visit from this team, email covid@carleton.edu.

How is the College addressing air quality inside campus buildings?

We are working to optimize the performance of ventilation systems and maximizing the air exchange rates per guidance from the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and input from our in-house and outside engineers. Every air handler on campus is being cleaned and checked to ensure proper operation of the dampers and motors for air flow, as well as proper fitting of filters. We are also ensuring that campus spaces have access to fresh air either through a window or a central HVAC system.

What are the expectations for student, faculty, and staff interactions on campus?

We are developing a contract that all students, faculty, and staff will be required to sign related to behavior expectations on campus. More information will be shared as soon as it is available.

Given its late start date, will Carleton be watching how a return to campus goes for other schools that start in mid-August?

We will continue to monitor the pandemic situation around the country and at other institutes of higher education, paying close attention to small, residential liberal arts colleges like Carleton. We will weigh this learning with what we know about our own local community and environment and the public health guidance being issued by the State of Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Health.

What does Carleton need in order to fully reopen its campus?

We are taking guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health and our public health contacts, as well as evaluating the situation on campus this fall, in order to make determinations about future operations.

How is Carleton working with the broader Northfield community in formulating its plans?

We have engaged with the City of Northfield and St. Olaf College throughout the planning process. We are also in regular communication with the Northfield Hospital.

What measures will the college take for testing, contact tracing and symptom monitoring for COVID-19?

All students, faculty, and staff will undergo a series of two tests for COVID-19 upon their initial return to campus, which together will minimize false negative results. Testing will continue throughout the term as symptoms and contact tracing require. A further regime of asymptomatic testing will be established to heighten safety. We are contracting with the Mayo Clinic to carry out this effort. Likewise, all on-campus students, faculty, and staff will be asked to self-monitor and self-report their symptoms daily in order to ensure swift action if signs of illness arise.

What will campus dining be like this fall?

Our dining halls will shift to an all-day service model, allowing for greater flexibility and eliminating congestion in dining spaces. For those who wish to take their meals to go, Dining Services will deploy an app for ordering from Sayles Café and will provide to-go containers in the dining halls. Other safety measures in our dining spaces will include physically distant queues and seating arrangements; plexiglass barriers between dining staff and diners; and strict sanitizing processes for tables, utensils, and shared spaces. All diners will be required to wash their hands before entering food service lines.

How do I ensure my campus work area and materials are properly sanitized? Can Custodial Services offer cleaning products or extra support?

Custodial Services uses commercial concentrated products that require additional safety training in order to use. If you have concerns about keeping your area or materials clean, please contact Custodial Services for support. 


What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

According to the CDC, people with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Fever (100.4° F or higher) or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

This list does not include all possible symptoms. 

What should I do if I suspect I have COVID-19?

You should call ahead to a healthcare clinic. Your healthcare professional will work with the Minnesota Department of Health to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19.

Even if you don’t suspect coronavirus, particularly now, you should stay home if you have a cough, sore throat or fever. Report the illness and subsequent absence to your direct supervisor.

What happens if someone on campus gets diagnosed with COVID-19?

In the event that a member of our campus community tests positive for COVID-19, we will work with the Minnesota Department of Health to carry out tracing for close contacts both on and off campus. Affected students will follow quarantine and isolation protocols within campus residences that have been reserved for this purpose. Students in quarantine or isolation will have a designated Resident Assistant, receive meals in their residence, take their classes online, and have their health and wellbeing actively monitored by a member of our professional Student Health and Counseling staff. Those living in townhomes and interest houses will be considered family units and will quarantine together in the event that a house member is exposed to COVID-19. Affected faculty and staff will follow quarantine and isolation protocols at home.

If you have been told of a Carleton community member case of COVID-19 and are concerned about possible exposure, please consult the MDH website, call Security at (507) 222-4444 or submit a Community Concern form.

What is the difference between physical distancing, self-quarantine and self-isolation?

Physical distancing is the act of limiting your interactions with others. It includes not shaking hands, avoiding crowds, standing 6 feet from others, working remotely when possible, and staying home if you feel sick.

Self-quarantine is for people who may have been exposed to COVID-19. You should self-quarantine if you have been in contact with a known or suspected case of COVID-19. During the 14-day self-quarantine period, you should stay home, take your temperature twice daily, and closely monitor yourself for signs of a respiratory illness.

Self-isolation is for people who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have been confirmed to have the virus. During self-isolation, you should stay home, avoid contact with others, and closely monitor your health.

If I’ve been sick, when can I stop self-isolating?

If you have been sick with respiratory symptoms or fever, you should self-isolate for 10 days after the onset of your illness. You can stop self-isolating after that 10-day period as long as you have been fever-free for 24 hours (without the use of medication) and your symptoms have improved.

Where can I find more resources?

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Minnesota Department of Health are the most up-to-date sources of information on the coronavirus outbreak.

Work Expectations

Does Carleton offer any options for me to reduce my scheduled hours?

Yes. Carleton has introduced a temporary Voluntary Furlough and FTE Reductions program to provide employees flexibility in their work schedules while keeping benefits in place. The Program also benefits the College’s financial position during this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. Applications received will be reviewed by Human Resources and the employee’s supervisor and divisional vice president. Although there are no guarantees, we will make every attempt to approve requests. More information can be found here.

Do I need to wear a mask when I’m on campus?

Yes. All faculty, staff, students and visitors on campus are required to wear a mask that covers both their nose and mouth at all times while in the presence of others or while in indoor public spacesMasks are required to be worn in outdoor public spaces when physical distancing of six feet or greater cannot be maintained. 

When in private spaces (offices, etc.) or spending time outdoors, you may remove your mask if physical distancing of greater than six feet can be maintained. You should put your mask back on when you leave the office for any purpose or if you come into close contact (less than six feet) with other people in your office. When outdoors, you should have a mask with you at all times, with the expectation that you put it on when you come into close contact with other people and prior to entering any building.

Wearing a mask reduces the chance of unknowingly spreading COVID-19 to someone else. A mask is not considered personal protective equipment (PPE) and does not protect the wearer from the COVID-19 virus. A mask is just one protective measure and is not a substitute for physical distancing, regular 20-second hand washing and hand sanitizing, and additional cleaning protocols.

If you need a mask, you can make one from common household materials. The College has also received donations of homemade masks from generous community members. Donated masks can be picked up from the mail area in Sayles-Hill or the foyer of Hoppin House. Employees, including student workers, may also obtain a face covering by visiting the Office of Human Resources, located in Strong House, or emailing hr@carleton.edu.

If, for medical reasons, you cannot wear a mask, please contact Human Resources. 

What is considered a “common space” where I must wear a mask?

Common spaces on campus include spaces that are not private offices or residential living quarters. Examples include academic department offices, Sayles Great Space, Anderson Hall’s Daugherty Atrium, the Weitz Center Commons, Gould Library, and Skinner Chapel.

How do I practice physical distancing while at work?

Physical distancing is a powerful public health tool. Departments should be working to implement several physical distancing strategies, such as:

  • Staff rotation: For offices that require an on-campus presence, we recommend staggering in-office and remote staff so those on campus can keep a physical distance of at least 6 feet from others. This will reduce the number of employees on campus and help limit potential exposure for those who must report to campus.
  • Essential meetings: Plan to use remote tools, such as Zoom or Google Meet, in place of in-person meetings.
  • State guidelines: While on campus, be aware of and practice strategies from the Minnesota Department of Health to slow the spread of COVID-19.

How long should I expect to work remotely?

We have encouraged all supervisors to continue to permit their employees to work remotely as much as their job allows. Until further notice, the one-day-per-week remote work limitation has been temporarily lifted, though we are asking all employees to complete a Remote Work Agreement to familiarize themselves with the remote work data security requirements like using our Virtual Private Network (VPN). For those offices that necessitate an on-campus presence, we suggest staggering department staffing and allowing employees to work remotely at least 50% of the time.

Due to the nature of their positions, some staff are not able to work remotely. However, having fewer regular staff on campus will help those staff maintain a safe physical distance. We also encourage supervisors to consider schedule modifications to help reduce the number of individuals on campus at one time.

Human Resources has additional information on Remote Work During COVID-19.

Am I required to work remotely?

All employees who can work remotely should expect to do so at this time. Supporting the students on campus and preparing for the fall academic term requires that some work be performed on campus by essential employees.

What are the communications expectations for remote workers?

As outlined in the Remote Work Agreement, employees working remotely are expected to:   

  • Notify manger and coworkers of any temporary change in the posted remote work schedule
  • Be available to manager and coworkers by telephone and email during core hours
  • Return calls and emails in a timely manner
  • Fulfill required communication (such as daily contact) with manager
  • Forward office calls to the remote site
  • Meet additional expectations which may be set by supervisors

Where can I find tips and tools for working remotely?

Both ITS and Human Resources have tips, tools, best practices, and professional development resources on working remotely. New information is regularly added.

Are there any considerations for new employees?

New employees will be expected to follow the same steps as current employees regarding COVID-19 precautions. Human Resources will share this information with new employees before they arrive to campus.


Do I need to use VPN while working remotely?

Yes, in all cases. VPN is Carleton’s secure way of effectively “wrapping” your off-campus network connection in a Carleton blanket, so to speak. It encrypts your network traffic, which protects all Carleton data and login credentials no matter where you are. There is a short installation process, and after that you simply turn it on or off.

When you are using the VPN, your computer is essentially on the Carleton network, much as if you were in your office. It is an easy-to-use solution that will give you, among other things, access to your network drives and library database resources. You can also use it to provide security when using non-secure networks, such as WiFi at home, in coffee shops, or libraries.

How do I print when I’m working remotely?

Printers are too delicate to be moved easily.  If you need to print from home, you can either send the job to a person in your office who is working on campus and have them print it for you, or you can print remotely using Webprint.

Will I be compensated for using my home internet while working remotely?

No. Employees are responsible for providing internet service at the remote work location.

I don’t have a home phone. Do I need to forward office calls to my cell phone?

It is expected that office calls will be forwarded to the remote site. If you don’t have a home phone, you should forward calls to your cell phone. Calls only need to be forwarded during regular office hours.

What if I don’t want people to have my personal cell phone number?

You are not required to share your personal cell phone number with callers. Callers should be directed to dial your office number. When returning calls using your personal phone, you can dial *67 prior to dialing the number to block caller ID. If needed, you can work a few hours each day from the office to return calls.

Illness & Time Off

Is the coronavirus screening covered by health insurance?

For those covered by Carleton’s health insurance plan, the coronavirus screening test will be covered at no out-of-pocket-cost for all employees and dependents. If you have other coverage, please contact your provider.

Testing at Carleton will be free for all eligible employees.

If I am self-quarantined due to risk of COVID-19, how do I report my time away from work?

Employees who suspect they have been exposed to COVID-19 must stay home, practice social distancing, and closely monitor their health. Employees may be able to work remotely during this time. Regular, benefits-eligible employees can use accrue leaves (sick, vacation, floating holidays) to cover any missed work hours. We ask employees to report their self-quarantine using this form.

If I become ill with COVID-19, how do I report my time away from work?

Employees who become ill with COVID-19 must stay home. Employees may be able to work remotely during this time, depending on the severity of their symptoms. There is no expectation of work while ill. Regular, benefits-eligible employees can use accrue leaves (sick, vacation, floating holidays) to cover any missed work hours. We ask employees to report their COVID-19 illness using this form.

Employees should report their COVID-19 related absence following the regular procedures for reporting standard sick time.

What if I need to care for a sick relative with COVID-19 symptoms?

Employees should stay home if a household member has developed symptoms of COVID-19. Employees may be able to work remotely during this time. Due to the proximity, the employee should assume they may have been exposed to COVID-19 and monitor their own symptoms. Regular, benefits-eligible employees can use accrue leaves (sick, vacation, floating holidays) to cover any missed work hours related to their own or a household member’s COVID-19 quarantine or illness. We ask employees to report their COVID-19 absence using this form.

How do I report an absence related to a COVID-19 quarantine or illness?

Employees should report their absence related to a COVID-19 illness or quarantine using this online form and to their supervisor directly.

What if schools are closed or I do not have childcare for another reason related to COVID-19?

Temporarily, some employees will be allowed work remotely while caring for their children. If remote work is not feasible, employees can use accrued vacation or floating holidays to care for their children if they lose childcare for a reason directly related to COVID-19. This includes absences due to K-12 school closings. Additionally, some employees may be able to adjust their work hours or take a temporary leave of absence. Please contact Human Resources for additional information.

My childcare situation has changed. What do I need to know about my Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account?

With a number of childcare closings, you may be unable to spend FSA funds as initially intended. While there is no new or altered IRS guidance related to changes in FSA regulations as a result of COVID-19, you may be able to modify your pre-tax election to support your needs at this time. Examples include:

  • Suspend your election: If your daycare has closed and is not billing you for services, you may consider suspending your election. Should you choose to do this, you may re-elect once your daycare services resume.
  • Modify your election:
    • You may increase or decrease your election if your daycare provider has adjusted their fee schedule during this time.
    • If a child is switched from a paid provider to “free care” (i.e. neighbor or relative) or no care. An election change should be permissible whenever there is a change in provider.
  • Add an election: Should your family needs require that you seek new provider services that have a cost, you may add an election. For example, you could consider hiring a babysitter to care for your children while you are working in your home. This will qualify so long as the babysitter is over the age of 19 and is not your spouse, the parent of the child, or anyone you can claim as a dependent on your tax returns.

Please visit optumbank.com for the latest developments and up-to-date information on regulation changes related to health care spending and savings accounts.

What considerations are being made for staff who are at risk of severe illness from COVID-19?

Whenever possible, employees with documented high-risk health conditions will be given the opportunity to work from home temporarily. For those who cannot perform their work from home, Human Resources will work with them and their supervisors to evaluate the request and explore accommodations. Employees can request an accommodation using this form.

What can I do to minimize the risk of spreading illness?

  • Stay at home if you are sick (with any illness, but especially if you are experiencing respiratory symptoms, fever, etc.);
  • Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose;
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with your elbow or a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands;
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; and
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Where can I go for additional support?

We recognize this can be a very stressful time. The Employee Assistance Program is available to all employees by calling 1-866-326-7194 or visiting hpeap.com and entering “Carleton College.”

Travel, Meetings & Visitors

If I’ve recently traveled, when is it OK for me to return to campus?

If you’ve traveled internationally, you should not return to campus until 14 days after your return to the U.S. You should stay home, practice social distancing, and closely monitor your health. The CDC offers clear guidelines that you should follow.

I have upcoming personal travel plans. Will I be allowed to return to work when I get back?

We urge you to be judicious in making your personal travel plans and try to avoid all nonessential personal travel. Please stay current with the evolving recommendations and guidance from the MDH and CDC.

Employees who elect to proceed with their travel plans should understand that the COVID-19 situation is changing on a daily basis and it is possible that they will have difficulty returning to campus and may be required to quarantine for 14 days before returning.

I canceled my Carleton-sponsored travel, and the airline gave me a voucher for another flight. Do I need to repay the college?

If a ticket credit is issued instead of a refund, you should use that credit for future College-approved travel. If you wish to use the credit for personal travel, you may do so and reimburse the College for the portion of the new ticket that was covered by the credit. The cardholder should document the credit on their credit card statement.

What considerations should be taken when organizing a department or small group meeting?

We recommend teleconferencing or video conferencing using Zoom or Google Hangouts in favor of in-person meetings. For sessions that do occur in person, meeting organizers should choose a space large enough to allow for social distancing of at least 6 feet between attendees.

May job candidates come to campus for interviews?

No, all interviews are being conducted virtually. Rare exceptions will be granted on a case-by-case basis by the divisional vice president, in consultation with Human Resources.

Is the College canceling all large events?

Yes. All large campus events have been canceled at this time. We strongly discourage groups of people where it is not possible to maintain a physical distance of approximately 6 feet.

Is the Office of Admissions still hosting campus visits and events?

The Office of Admissions has suspended all visit programs and visits to campus at this time. We are providing admitted students with other opportunities to experience Carleton.

Dining, Facilities & Other Services

What are the summer 2020 dining options and hours?

Sayles Cafe is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and is closed on weekends. A grill-out is offered every Wednesday.

Sayles is currently cashless, accepting meal plans, credit cards, and Schillers. Using Schillers qualifies diners for a 10% discount.

Dining halls will remain closed until students return to campus.

What is the College doing to limit the spread of germs in campus dining spaces?

Campus food handlers are specifically trained in proper safety and hygiene procedures. We follow all federal and state-level regulations. Additionally:

  • All diners are required to wash their hands before entering food service.
  • Pre-work temperature checks are being done for all dining managers and employees.
  • All dining staff members are wearing face masks and gloves during service periods when in contact with students and as their jobs safely allow.
  • All meals are available to go.
  • We are disinfecting throughout each meal period.
  • We are changing service utensils every 30 minutes.
  • Self-service stations have been removed, including the salad bar.
  • We have adjusted seating arrangements in the dining hall to support physical distancing guidelines.
  • All diners are invited to swipe their own card.

What changes have been made to building access?

Exterior doors on all campus buildings are locked. Faculty, staff and students will need to utilize their OneCard to gain access. Faculty and staff will have 24/7 access to the building where their office is located.

Students permitted to stay on campus will have 24/7 access to their residential hall or residence. Access for on-campus students to additional campus spaces is as follows:

  • Arboretum, between dawn and dusk
  • Sayles Hill, from 7 a.m.–midnight, 7 days a week
  • Science Center and Weitz Center, atrium and study spaces only, 8 a.m.–8 p.m., Monday through Friday
  • Mail Services, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Monday through Friday
  • The Rec Center, Gould Library and all campus computer labs remain closed.
  • The Bookstore is closed to public access, but continues to take and fulfill online orders. Shipping is free, and online orders for students staying on campus can be picked up at Mail Services.

Will campus movers be on campus during this transitional time?

Moving services have been temporarily suspended. Please submit an online work request for moving services or contact Patti Sabrowski at psabrows@carleton.edu or (507) 222-4739 with questions.

Will campus mail continue to operate?

Mail Services will deliver to departments on campus once per day. Please contact mailservices@carleton.edu if you need to make arrangements for a particular delivery.

Innovative Office Solutions will be delivering all orders to Mail Services, which will then complete delivery.

Mail Services is open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

How can I purchase something from the Bookstore?

The Bookstore is closed to public access, but continues to take and fulfill online orders. Shipping is free, and online orders for those on campus can be picked up at Mail Services.