Message to Students about Baseline and Arrival Testing

31 August 2021

Dear Carls,

As we previously shared with you, all students, faculty, staff and regular contractors are required to be tested for COVID-19 at the start of Fall Term. Below you will find further details about Carleton’s testing plan, including the dates when you can expect these tests to take place. 

As a community, each one of us will undergo two rounds of baseline testing. We are taking this action in order to understand the initial health status of our population and further our goal for the coming year: to minimize the number of COVID-19 cases within our community and prevent significant transmission that could affect in-person learning. We will report the results of these tests publicly on a new dashboard that will be published to the Responding to COVID-19 website near the start of the term. At the conclusion of both rounds of baseline testing, we will carefully review the results with Carleton’s consulting epidemiologist to determine whether any current or additional mitigation measures—such as masking and surveillance testing—should be extended further into the term. 

While two rounds of baseline testing is our standard, due to the staggered arrival schedule for students, some of you will actually be tested three times—once upon arrival, and twice as part of college-wide baseline testing. These additional early-arrival tests will provide us with useful data that we expect will allow us to begin the academic year with confidence in our fully vaccinated community.  

Please carefully review the details below to ensure you are prepared for your initial COVID-19 tests on campus. If you have any questions about testing, please email


  • We began testing students on Aug. 18, as the first student-athletes made their arrival on campus. We have continued to test each student on the day of their arrival and will do so as we welcome other early arrivals through Sept. 8. 
  • Student-athlete testing is being coordinated by Physical Education, Athletics and Recreation. All other students who have been approved to arrive on campus early will receive an email from Residential Life regarding key pickup and testing when you arrive. 
  • This early-arrival testing is not considered baseline testing


  • The first round of baseline tests will be administered community-wide on Sept. 7 from 9 a.m. to noon, and on Sept. 9, 10, 13 and 14 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Students moving into campus housing on Sept. 9, 10, 13 or 14 are expected to be tested the day of their arrival. Northfield Option and early-arriving students should sign up to be tested on Sept. 7 or 10. 
  • All students must have a negative baseline test before attending their first class.
  • Second-round baseline tests will be administered Sept. 17 from 9 a.m. to noon, and Sept. 20, 21, 23 and 24 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and will correlate with the date of your first test. (For example, if you receive your first baseline test on Sept. 9, you will receive your second test on Sept. 20). 


  • Generally, all tests will be administered in Great Hall. 
  • Early-arrival tests are rapid BinaxNOW antigen tests administered by trained professionals employed by Carleton.
  • Baseline tests are PCR tests administered by medical professionals from Homeland Health, an external provider with which Carleton has an established relationship. 
  • All baseline tests require an appointment. You should expect to receive an invitation to sign up for your first baseline test by email no later than Friday, Sept. 3. The email will come from Primary Bio on behalf of Carleton College and Homeland Health.   

As you prepare for Fall Term, I invite you and your families to a virtual Q&A. The schedule is as follows:

  • Thursday, Sept. 2, webinar for students at 12 p.m. CDT 
  • Friday, Sept. 3, webinar for families at 6 p.m. CDT 
  • Saturday, Sept. 4, webinar for students at 12 p.m. CDT
  • Sunday, Sept. 4, in-person session for students at 2 p.m. CDT

I look forward to seeing you around campus. 
Dean Livingston