Message to Students about Pre-Arrival, Testing, Isolation and Quarantine, and Contact Tracing

11 August 2020

Dear Carls,

We are eager to welcome you to campus.  This email will attempt to answer many of your questions regarding the COVID-19 testing and campus arrival process that we will be using in September. 


In the 14 days prior to your arrival on campus, we ask that you are particularly careful about wearing a mask, limiting contacts, and maintaining physical distance to minimize your chance of exposure. This care will contribute to a successful return to campus and Fall Term.

Testing for COVID-19

As described in President Poskanzer’s announcement to the campus community about Fall Term, testing is a critical component of Carleton’s plan. All students, staff, and faculty who will be spending any time on campus this fall will be required to undergo testing for COVID-19 upon their initial return to campus. As students, your first test will take place on the day you move back to campus. Please register for a time that is after your scheduled move-in time by clicking on the link below. You will need your student ID number, last name, and date of birth to complete the registration. Once you submit the registration form, you will receive both an email and a text message to confirm your appointment and your contact information.

All testing will take place in the Rec Center.  When you arrive at the Rec Center at your scheduled testing time, you will check in with a representative who will confirm your identity and ask you some symptom screening questions. Please bring along confirmation of your appointment time and information on a cell phone or a printed hard copy for faster check in. Once this is complete, you will move to the testing area. The test itself involves a nasal swab, which will then be analyzed by Mayo Clinic. We expect to receive the results of your initial test in 24-72 hours. Students who test positive will receive a phone call with the results. Those who test negative will receive an email and text message.

A second round of testing will take place seven days after your first test. This testing is intended to detect those who may have been exposed during travel to campus (which would be too soon for the first test to detect), and those who may have tested negative erroneously in the first round.

It’s important to know that testing is not optional. All students, faculty, and staff returning to campus must be tested.

Awaiting Your Test Results

From the time you arrive on campus to the time we receive the results from the first round of testing, you will need to stay on campus, all food will be grab and go, and you should limit your interactions to those in your specified “social hub.” For new students, this hub will be your New Student Week Group.  For returning students, this hub will be self-determined, but should be as small as possible and preferably include only those with whom you share living space. This approach is intended to find the most appropriate balance between important health practices and allowing for our residential community to thrive. Throughout Fall Term, but especially during this time before we have test results, it is critical that you adhere to the distancing and masking measures outlined in the Carleton Community Covenant, which will be shared later this week. You will also be expected to submit a daily symptom screening using a web-based portal that you will gain access to once you are back on campus.

Isolation and Quarantine

Isolation and quarantine are terms that we have been hearing since the pandemic began. Isolation is specifically for those who test positive or have symptoms and a plausible exposure. It separates people who are positive from people who are not in order to prevent the spread of the disease. Quarantine is for those who have been exposed and may get sick or test positive in the near future. Because individuals can spread the virus before they show symptoms—or can be asymptomatic while infected—quarantine is crucial to stopping the spread of COVID-19. Together, isolation and quarantine can contain an outbreak.

Students who test positive for COVID-19 will be isolated for a minimum of 10 days in a space on campus designated for this purpose. You will have your meals delivered to you, health care staff will check in with you regularly, and we will assist you in making arrangements with professors to address the completion of course work. Once a minimum of 10 days of isolation is completed, a health professional will assess your symptoms to determine if it is safe for you to be moved out of isolation.

Those identified as a close contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19 will be required to quarantine for two weeks. As appropriate, this can be within your room on campus or in a designated campus space. For Carleton’s purposes, close contact is defined as being within six feet of a confirmed COVID-19 case for more than 15 minutes, being a roommate/housemate of a confirmed case, or coming into contact with respiratory fluids of a confirmed case (kissing, being coughed on, handling dirty tissues, etc.). During the initial stage of testing, we expect that if a student tests positive, we will ask all members of their social hub to quarantine.

Contact Tracing

Contact tracing is a key strategy for the prevention of further spread of COVID-19. While the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is the primary source of contact tracing for the state, Carleton will conduct case investigation and contact tracing within the College community (students, faculty, and staff) in collaboration with MDH. We will have a team of trained Carleton staff members whose top priority will be to work with those who test positive to identify potential close contacts while maintaining confidentiality.  Once contacts have been identified, Carleton staff will reach out to them and guide them through the process of quarantine. Following through with quarantine is one of the primary tools for containing the potential spread of COVID-19 on campus and is a critical factor in our ability to deliver a quality residential experience.

If you have questions about these or other topics related to campus operations this fall, please consult the Student FAQs on our COVID-19 website. As we near the start of the term and finalize preparations for your return to campus, the College remains committed to the health and safety of all Carleton students, faculty, and staff. We look forward to your partnership in this effort during the extraordinary year ahead.

I appreciate your patience as we continue to navigate this changing landscape. All best and let me know if you have any questions.

Dean Livingston