Eighth Week COVID-19 Update for Students: Positivity Rates, Pre-Departure Testing, Winter Term Housing

5 November 2020

Dear Carls,

Last week, we recorded 1 new case of COVID-19 within our on-campus community. As a result, among the College’s threshold measures, our 14-day infection rate remains at 0.09%, our surveillance testing positivity rate decreased to 0.0%, and the 14-day average number of close contacts per case decreased to 5. Detailed data is available on the COVID-19 Dashboard.

While we remain optimistic about the situation on campus, I want to acknowledge that the time it has taken for the College to receive test results continues to increase. In earlier weeks, the majority of test results were received within 48 hours of test administration. More recently, the majority of results arrived within 72 hours. This week, however, the first results came in at 84 hours. We learned that Mayo Clinic Labs is receiving record volumes of tests at this time and seeing an uptick in turnaround time as a result. Mayo’s operational leadership is working to bring on additional staff and create efficiencies in workflows to accommodate the extra volume.

As a College, we are actively engaged in conversation with our test provider and representatives at Mayo Clinic Labs to ensure we are doing all we can at Carleton to achieve the earliest possible results.

Pre-Departure Testing Resources

Some of you may want or need to get tested for COVID-19 before leaving campus at the end of the term. The College does not plan to test students prior to departure; our surveillance and symptomatic testing have not given any indication of community transmission of COVID-19 on campus that would warrant more widespread testing.

If you need a test for travel, we recommend ordering a home testing kit. This article describes the process and compares the various companies providing this service. These services generally require you to complete a questionnaire or online consultation to first assess your COVID-19 risk. Then you will be sent a test along with instructions on how to collect a sample. A provider from the company will follow up with results and next steps through an app, email, or by phone.

Alternatively, you could use the Minnesota Department of Health website to find a testing site in Rice County or Dakota County (or beyond, if you have transportation). It’s important to know that, despite an increase in testing in Minnesota in recent weeks, many of the testing sites nearby aren’t offering tests to asymptomatic individuals.

Any student who receives a positive result will need to isolate on campus before traveling so as not to risk exposure to other travelers.

Good News on Winter Term Housing

On Saturday, Oct. 31, you received an email from me noting that Carleton has enough space to accommodate all students who expressed a desire to live on campus during winter term. Residential Life sent additional information to these returning students on Monday. If you plan to return to campus and have not yet agreed to the Covenant or uploaded your flu immunization verification, you must complete those requirements before participating in the room assignment process. If you received your flu shot at Carleton, you do not need to upload additional documentation. Contact doso@carleton.edu if you have any questions.

Finally, as this election week comes to a close, remember to take care of yourselves and show care to one another. November has arrived in Minnesota with sunshine and warmth, and I encourage you to get outside and soak it in.

Sincerely,

Dean Livingston