Message to Campus about Current Action Level

12 April 2021

Dear Members of the Carleton Community,

Today, the COVID-19 Core Team determined the campus action level for the first time this term. Based on both internal and external threshold measures, our campus action level is Level 2: Medium. Action Level 2 allows in-person activities to continue with the expectation that every member of our campus community continues to be cautious and practice healthy behaviors.

As noted in an all-campus email on Friday, we suspect a more contagious variant of the virus that is widespread in Minnesota is present on campus. This, coupled with a steady increase in the rate of COVID-19 cases in Rice County (currently 43.79 cases per 10,000 residents), suggests that spending time off campus continues to pose a risk to our community. As such, students should be especially restrained with their off-campus behaviors:

  • Avoid spending time anywhere that requires you to remove your mask indoors.
  • Avoid spending time anywhere that requires you to spend 15 minutes or more within 6 feet of another person with whom you don’t share a living space.
  • Don’t travel unnecessarily within or beyond Northfield. 

The most recent campus data that contributed to the Action Level 2 determination is available on the COVID-19 Dashboard. A mix of factors that you won’t see there also played a role in our decision-making this week. Among those:

  • We have a higher number of students in quarantine relative to the low infection rate (0.78%) on campus, and this resulted in 59% of our quarantine and isolation space being occupied last week. Students can play a direct role in changing this by keeping their pods small.
  • Our test provider continues to deliver test results within about 24 hours of samples arriving at the lab. This has had a significant and positive impact on our ability to quickly isolate infected people and identify and quarantine their close contacts. Case investigation and contact tracing continue to be thorough and efficient.
  • We have continued to maintain an ample supply of rapid tests, personal protective equipment, and cleaning supplies. All are important to our ability to maximize the health and safety of the campus community.

Despite an increase in COVID-19 cases on campus last week, our infection rate continues to be low. This is encouraging, but it must not lead to complacency. For all members of our on-campus community, we continue to expect that you:

  • Maintain a 6-foot distance from others, including when studying or working in groups.
  • Eat and drink only in designated areas (your residence, your private office, outdoors, the dining halls, and designated areas near Sayles, Schulze, and Weitz cafes).
  • Wear a mask indoors in shared spaces except while actively eating or drinking in a designated area.
  • Wear a mask outside when you are unable to keep a 6-foot distance from others.
  • Participate in mandatory surveillance testing.
  • Abide by the covenant.
  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.
  • Monitor and track your symptoms of COVID-19 daily.
  • Stay home when you are ill or in quarantine.

As we begin this third week of Spring Term with the unknowns of a more contagious variant of the virus on our minds, there is also reason to be optimistic. Today, we are reporting vaccination data for our community for the first time, and it offers hope for what lies ahead this spring. As of Saturday, April 10, 43% of students, faculty, staff and regular contractors had reported to the College that they had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. We will update the Carleton vaccination rate weekly on the dashboard and look forward to watching that number grow.


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
Gretchen Hofmeister, Associate Dean of the College
John Bermel, Director of Security and Emergency Management
Helen Clarke, Director of Digital Strategy and Public Affairs

Correction: The version of this message that was emailed to students, faculty and staff incorrectly stated that 49% of Carleton’s quarantine and isolation space was occupied. The correct number is 59%. This post has been updated to reflect that change.