Carleton College campus from the west.

The plan outlined below draws upon the advice of public health experts, as well as our experience during academic year 2020-21 and our confidence in a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for all students, faculty, and staff. As we return to mostly normal operations, Carleton will remain nimble, forward-looking, and focused on the health and safety of every member of our community.


Key Points

  • Students will live, learn, and work on campus.
  • Faculty and staff will be on campus to teach, mentor, and support students.
  • All students, faculty, and staff are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and influenza.

Health and Mitigation

Vaccination Requirements

In order to offer the best protection against disease transmission in our campus community, all Carleton students, faculty, and staff are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This requirement took effect Aug. 1, 2021.

Carleton will assist students and new employees in obtaining a vaccine if they were unable to get vaccinated in their home state or country by Aug. 1. Some restrictions will be in place for these individuals until 14 days after the completion of their vaccination series.

All students, faculty, and staff also are required to be vaccinated against influenza by the end of October 2021. A flu vaccination clinic will be held on campus in the fall.

Requests for exemptions from these vaccination requirements are being considered and managed for employees and students in accordance with applicable state and federal law.


With students and others returning to campus from many places with varying case rates, we want to ensure we start Fall Term with an understanding of the initial health status of our population. As such, all students are expected to take a COVID-19 test 72 hours before arriving on campus, and to carefully follow CDC recommendations during this time. All students, faculty and staff will then undergo a series of two baseline tests for COVID-19 near the start of Fall Term. Students will receive their first test upon arrival to campus. Individuals who have had and recovered from COVID-19 within the past 90 days are exempt from testing.

Decisions about future testing will be made following the results of these initial baseline tests and based on recommendations from our epidemiological consultant and health professionals. COVID-19 testing continues to be available at Carleton for symptomatic individuals and for close contacts of positive cases.

Quarantine and Isolation

We will follow CDC guidance on quarantine and isolation for our highly vaccinated community. Isolation space and a student care team will be assembled for students who test positive for COVID-19 during their time on campus. 

Contact tracing will be conducted according to public health recommendations. Fully vaccinated close contacts of a positive case will be tested 3-5 days after their exposure and required to wear a mask indoors for 14 days or until a negative test result is received.

Cleaning and Sanitizing

Cleaning and sanitizing processes will primarily return to pre-pandemic standards. These include: daily cleaning and disinfecting of restrooms, hallways, entries, and kitchens/lounges in residence halls; daily cleaning and disinfecting of restrooms, entries, hallways, and classrooms in academic and administrative buildings; and weekly cleaning and emptying trash in offices.

The Student Experience


All courses will be taught in person, with flipped classrooms or technology-enabled innovations used by faculty at their discretion to meet pedagogical goals. Classrooms, laboratories, studios, and rehearsal spaces will return to normal or near-normal occupancy levels. Fully-online courses may be offered only in exceptional circumstances. 

Carleton’s typical academic calendar, daily class schedule, and passing period time will be observed. Visiting speakers, class field trips, and in-person community-based projects will also resume as usual and in accordance with state and federal public health guidelines.

Student Housing and Dining

With a fully vaccinated population, residence rooms and dining halls will be structured to operate at full capacity and without physical distancing. Dining Services will continue to offer the Green to Go program for students wishing to take their meals to go, as well as app-based ordering from Sayles Café.

Athletics & Activities

Student activities will resume as usual. Varsity, club, and other athletic sports teams and organizations will participate in traditional competition.

The Campus Environment

Community Expectations

Carleton’s culture of accountability and respect remains essential as we move into the 2021-22 academic year. We have an obligation to protect one another and the members of the Northfield community, and we all must continue to take that responsibility seriously—especially amidst a global pandemic. All students, faculty, and staff are expected to adhere to these values.


Effective Monday, Aug. 16, and at least through the first and second baseline tests, all individuals—regardless of vaccination status—are required to wear a mask in indoor public spaces as we reestablish our on-campus community. We take this action out of care and concern not only for those on campus, but also for members of their households—particularly children who are younger than 12 and unable to be protected by a vaccine. This masking requirement will be reevaluated after we receive the results of the second round of baseline testing.

Masks are not required while eating or drinking, or while alone or with a roommate/housemate in an enclosed space. If an employee chooses to be unmasked when alone in a private work space, the door must be closed.

Visitors and Events

Visitors are welcome on campus during the 2021-22 academic year, including for move-in day, New Student Week, and Family Weekend. Public audiences, standard occupancies, and traditional catering operations are allowed for events. All visitors are expected to adhere to the College’s expectations for visitors.

Emeriti faculty and retired staff may regain access to the Rec Center and library resources by submitting proof of vaccination to the College. Access to these resources for others in Carleton’s affiliate OneCard program—including employees’ family members and nearby alumni—will be determined in early fall.

College Operations & Planning

Working on Campus

The Group 1, 2, and 3 designations that were put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic expired on Aug. 1, 2021, coinciding with the college-wide vaccination requirement. Employees who have been working remotely are transitioning back to regular, in-person operations over the summer based on departmental needs. All employees are expected to return to work on campus by August 30.

In-person meetings can take place and are encouraged at this time. Physical distancing is not required; campus spaces have been assessed, and ventilation has been optimized where needed. If an employee chooses to be unmasked when alone in a private work space, the door must be closed.

Remote Work

Human Resources is developing a flexible work policy, which is expected to be shared with faculty and staff in August. This work is being done in consultation with supervisors and in consideration of what the College learned about remote work during the 2020-21 academic year.


With a return to more normal operations, departments and offices are encouraged to return to their usual planning and decision-making processes, in consideration of current public health guidelines. The COVID-19 Core Team continues to be a resource to those looking for additional guidance and clarity; submit a question to the team.