Message to Campus about Updated Mask-Wearing and Testing Requirements

29 September 2021

Dear Members of the Carleton Community,

Complete results from both rounds of campus-wide baseline testing are now available, and we are pleased to share that the 14-day positive rate of the Carleton community is 0.17%. This, coupled with our high vaccination rate—98% of faculty and staff are fully vaccinated, and 99.7% of students will be fully vaccinated by Oct. 15—affords us the ability to make some changes to the mitigation efforts that have been in place since students began arriving on campus in mid-August.

Following more than seven weeks of universal indoor masking on campus, effective Wednesday, Oct. 6, masks will no longer be required in most indoor public spaces on campus. This decision was made in partnership with Carleton’s consulting epidemiologist and follows careful evaluation of campus spaces to ensure they meet appropriate standards for ventilation, air filtration and occupancy.

Please continue to keep a clean mask with you at all times, as masks will still be required for some individuals and in some circumstances:

  • Classrooms: Faculty may choose to require that masks be worn in their classrooms and labs.
  • Individual Work Spaces: Faculty and staff who are masking may choose to ask others to wear a mask while in their individual work space.
  • Visitors: All visitors are required to wear a mask while indoors on campus, regardless of their vaccination status.
  • Indoor Gatherings: All attendees at indoor events where visitors are present—including weekly convocations, music and theatre performances, indoor athletic events, and social gatherings—will be required to wear a mask.
  • Musicians: Mask-wearing and other protocols that are currently in place for singers and other musicians will continue.

When you are wearing a mask, it must cover both your mouth and your nose.  

We understand that, while this is a welcome change for some, it may be a source of anxiety for others—including those who are immunocompromised and those with young children who are not yet able to be vaccinated. All of us in the Carleton community have shown tremendous care for one another in the past 19 months, and that doesn’t stop today. Please respect the choices of those who continue to wear a mask on campus.

In addition to testing symptomatic students and close contacts of positive cases (which is currently available from 11:15 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on weekdays at SHAC), weekly random surveillance testing will begin on Monday, Oct. 11, and continue for at least three weeks. As described in the College’s decision-making framework for this phase of the pandemic, random surveillance testing is an important strategy to implement upon removal of the universal indoor mask mandate.

We will test roughly 300 randomly chosen people—which is about 10% of our total campus population—on Oct. 11, 18 and 25. Participants will include students, faculty, and staff. If you are selected for surveillance testing, you will receive an email the week prior instructing you to sign up for a test appointment through Primary Bio. You must participate if you are selected.

In addition to the surveillance testing group, another 150 individuals will be tested each week through targeted testing (varsity athletes and others at higher risk). In total, we expect to test about 15% of our campus population each week through at least Oct. 25.

We are also working on establishing an on-campus COVID-19 screening center, where students, faculty and staff who have been identified as close contacts or who are experiencing mild symptoms that do not require medical care may be tested. The screening center is expected to operate seven days a week. Additional details will be shared as soon as they are finalized.

We expect that we will continue to see cases of COVID-19 within our campus community, and it’s important that you know what to expect in the event that you are identified as a close contact of a positive case, or if you test positive, yourself. Carleton has a dedicated Case Investigation and Contact Tracing (CICT) team, and their work continues to be central to our COVID-19 mitigation efforts. Please visit the COVID-19 website for information on:

Even while our most recent campus data allows us to be optimistic, case rates continue to be high in Rice County (255 cases per 100,000) with only 64% of the eligible population vaccinated. It is essential that we all continue to monitor our health and be aware of behaviors that could put other members of our community at risk. If at any time you experience symptoms of COVID-19, you should remain in your residence and seek a test—by submitting a Community Concern Form, if you are a student, or by contacting your health care provider, if you are faculty or staff member. Please don’t attend classes or come to work if you aren’t feeling well.

Finally, we continue to encourage you to use the COVID-19 website as a starting point when you have a question about current guidance and campus expectations and when you are seeking testing and case data. The frequently asked questions continue to be updated regularly, and the dashboard is updated weekly on Friday afternoons.


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