Congratulations on making it to the mid-point of Winter Term! It has truly been a joy to see so many of you on campus again. I write today to share an update on our most recent test and case data for COVID-19, as well as share some additional information to help you plan for spring break and Spring Term.
Last week, Carleton administered 665 tests for COVID-19 and recorded three new cases of the virus within our on-campus community. As a result, among the College’s threshold measures, our 14-day infection rate decreased to 0.41%, our surveillance testing positivity rate remained at 0.2%, and the average number of close contacts per case remained at 2. The campus action level remains at Level 2: Medium. Detailed data for the week of Sunday, January 24, through Saturday, January 30, is available on the dashboard, which is updated every Monday.
Surveillance testing continues weekly. If you are selected to participate, you will receive notification on Thursday preceding the following Tuesday test date. Initial notification and email reminders come from the Dean of Students Office. If selected, you must be tested. Anyone who does not comply with COVID-19 testing will be sanctioned for violating the covenant.
Students who are on campus this winter and are also approved to live on campus in the spring will be able to petition to remain on campus over spring break. We will share more information about spring break once the Spring Term housing decisions are communicated on February 15.
Planning for Spring Term continues. Classes will begin on Monday, March 29, as planned, but will be held remotely for the first week. During that time, students will be on campus, and your movement will be limited (including grab-and-go dining) as you are again tested twice for COVID-19. You will be able to attend in-person or hybrid courses once the results of your second test have been received.
As I noted via email last week and again yesterday, Spring Term housing decisions will be shared no later than Monday, February 15. We must hear from you by 5 p.m. on Monday, February 8, in order to consider you for on-campus housing. Please see recent emails from the Dean of Students Office for further details.
We have been able to maintain a very low rate of infection on campus thus far, but as new variants of the virus emerge, the risk of bringing infection to our community from outside campus is increased. The actions you take now impact not just the remainder of Winter Term, but also our ability to successfully carry out Spring Term on campus. If you are living on campus or in Northfield Option, we strongly discourage any overnight travel off campus. In the event that you must leave campus for one or more nights, you are required to notify the College. Upon return, you will be placed in a designated quarantine space for 10 days and will be required to pay the cost of your return-to-campus COVID-19 test.
Carleton has been approved to receive and administer COVID-19 vaccines to members of our community when the vaccine becomes available. At this time, we don’t know when we might receive the vaccine or how many doses will be distributed to us. We will share details with you as soon as we have more information. In the meantime, vaccine data for the state of Minnesota is being reported on the Minnesota Department of Health website.
In closing, I want to again offer my most sincere thanks to you for the everyday ways in which you are showing up for our community. Our ability to maintain a low infection rate on campus is a product not just of effective plans and processes, but of your commitment to masking up, keeping your distance, washing your hands, and monitoring your health—even at a time when we are growing tired of the restrictions. We simply couldn’t do this without you.