Message about Recent Positive Cases and Testing Efforts

28 October 2021

Dear Members of the Carleton Community,

We have seen a slight increase in cases of COVID-19 among students this week, which has generated a number of close contacts. We are writing today to share information about these cases and our continued efforts to keep our community healthy.  

  • Six new positive cases of COVID-19 have been identified within our campus community this week (since Saturday, Oct. 23)—all among students. Some of these individuals are asymptomatic, while others reported minor symptoms.
  • We have seen no transmission in classrooms or meetings. Case investigation and contact tracing efforts suggest that transmission is happening in social settings.
  • Our 14-day campus positive rate is currently 0.24%. This is well within the lowest range on our decision-making framework, which continues to give us confidence in our existing mitigation efforts.
  • For the third week in a row, random surveillance testing detected no positives. This suggests that the virus is not widely circulating within our campus community.

While these six new cases reflect a slight increase from previous weeks, we are not seeing alarming trends or significant transmission that would suggest we need to adjust our behaviors at this time. Specially trained staff members continue to carry out extensive case investigation and contact tracing on each positive case, with the goal of limiting transmission of the virus within our community. This work continues to be essential and successful, especially at a time when our highly vaccinated community has afforded us the ability to return to mostly normal operations with limited restrictions.

CURRENT & FUTURE TESTING EFFORTS

Because we are operating in an environment without physical distancing or constraints on activities, we expect that positive cases will have more close contacts than we saw last year. An increase in close contacts translates to greater demand for campus testing, and we are directing resources to this effort, based on what our data tells us.

  • About 25% of our students, faculty and staff have been tested for COVID-19 in each of the past two weeks. This includes random surveillance tests, as well as tests administered due to symptoms, close contacts, and other circumstances. We expect the share to be larger by the end of this week, due to the larger number of close contacts tied to our recent positives. Testing—especially of close contacts and symptomatic individuals—continues to be an effective way to measure the rate of infection on campus. 
  • Close contacts are tested at least twice, with testing most often happening around day 3-5 after exposure and day 7 after exposure. Close contacts are expected to be masked indoors until they receive a negative test result on day 7. Close contacts of close contacts do not need to be tested.
  • The Carleton Rapid Test Site, which is open daily and offers testing for close contacts and those with mild symptoms, has detected eight of nine campus positives since its opening earlier this month. The additional positive resulted from a test administered at Student Health and Counseling. We will continue to offer testing at the Carleton Rapid Test Site site daily through the last day of fall classes. SHAC continues to be available to students who need medical care.
  • Random surveillance testing has accounted for less than half of all campus tests each week. We completed the last of our original three rounds of random surveillance testing on Monday and have chosen to extend that testing by one more week. We are doing this to help determine whether transmission is occurring due to this week’s recent positives. Surveillance testing will be held on Tuesday next week, and notifications will be sent Friday to those who were randomly selected to participate.
  • End-of-term testing will be available to all members of our community prior to departure from campus in November. Self-administered saliva test kits from Vault Health will be distributed daily from 1-3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 20, through Wednesday, Nov. 24, in Great Hall. Reminders will be sent in mid-November.
  • Baseline testing will again be required for all students, faculty and staff at the beginning of Winter Term. Details about testing dates, times and registration will be shared in December.

Thank you for your efforts to help us minimize the transmission of COVID-19 on campus. Your commitment along with vaccination, testing and contact tracing have made it possible for us to continue to offer the in-person living and learning activities that are central to the Carleton experience.

Sincerely,

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