Dear Members of the Carleton Community,
News about the new Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus is undoubtedly on all of our minds, particularly as we spend more time indoors and in close proximity with loved ones over the winter break. While we don’t yet know how this new variant might impact our community, we are paying close attention to its development and will be ready to adjust plans on campus if needed.
We continue to feel confident in the preparations we’ve made for Winter Term, and we write today to affirm those plans and to share an update on the College’s expectations around vaccination.
We know that the efficacy of our original COVID-19 vaccines against infection wanes over time, and that getting a booster dose helps maintain this protection.
Recent data shared by our consulting epidemiologist shows that, between March and August, protection against infection decreased from 88% to 3% for Johnson & Johnson, from 92% to 64% for Moderna, and from 91% to 50% for Pfizer. Another study shows that vaccine efficacy returns to 90-95% after receiving a booster of an mRNA vaccine. Vaccine durability post-booster dose is the subject of ongoing research.
In support of our goal to minimize infection, and to limit transmission and spread of the virus on campus, all members of our community who are eligible to receive a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine are required to do so by Friday, Jan. 21, 2022.
We strongly encourage you to get your booster as soon as possible; please do not wait until Jan. 21 if you can access a vaccine earlier. An on-campus booster clinic will be held on Friday, Jan. 14, with a limited number of Moderna doses for those who are unable to access a booster on their own.
Most of our community members are now eligible to receive a booster. Eligibility is determined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and depends on your age, and the date and manufacturer of your original vaccine. If, by Jan. 21, it will not have been 6 months since you completed your primary vaccination series for Pfizer or Moderna, or 2 months since you received your Johnson & Johnson vaccination, or if you are younger than 18, you will be required to get your booster dose within 14 days of reaching eligibility.
Proof of your booster dose—including a photo of your vaccination card—is now required to be submitted to Carleton. All students, faculty and staff must complete the new designated reporting forms no later than Friday, Jan. 21, 2022.
Symptom-Monitoring and Testing During Winter Break
If you are living or working on campus during the break period, it is essential that you monitor yourself for symptoms of COVID-19, and stay home and seek a test if at any time you are symptomatic. Symptoms reported by recent cases at Carleton have included mild congestion, headache and mild sore throat, to name a few. Please be alert to these symptoms.
We know that access to testing continues to be a challenge locally. Self-administered saliva test kits continue to be available to all students, faculty and staff. Tests can be picked up 24/7 from Security Services in Hoppin House.
Returning for Winter Term
With two rounds of baseline testing, universal masking for every member of our community at the start of Winter Term, and the resumption of our campus Rapid Test Site, we feel confident in our ability to identify and respond to any cases of COVID-19 that may be present on campus. As we did in September, we will use the information gained through baseline testing to determine whether additional mitigation strategies are necessary beyond the month of January. We will continue to use our decision-making framework to inform these strategies.
All students are again expected to be tested for COVID-19 no more than 72 hours before returning to Carleton in January. You may take either an antigen or a PCR test, and you are not required to show the results of that test upon arrival to campus. If you test positive, however, you must report it to the College and delay your return to campus.
In closing, we ask that you continue to practice a layered mitigation strategy to protect yourself and the health of others. Get your booster; pay close attention to your health; wear a mask when in off-campus indoor public places; and test if at any time you experience symptoms of COVID-19.
With gratitude for your thoughtfulness and care,
The COVID-19 Core Team
Carolyn H. Livingston, Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students
Eric Runestad, Vice President and Treasurer
Elise Eslinger, Vice President and Chief of Staff
Eric Egge, Associate Dean of the College
John Bermel, Director of Security and Emergency Management
Helen Clarke, Director of Digital Strategy and Public Affairs