Third Week COVID-19 Update for Students: Testing, Necessary Travel Guidelines, Social Gatherings, etc.

1 October 2020

Dear Carls,

Yesterday, you received an update from the COVID-19 Core Team regarding a new COVID-19 Dashboard and action levels.  The College’s current action level is medium. 

Please remember that if you are selected for random testing in a coming week, it is essential that you participate. As a college, we have invested significant human and financial resources in ensuring that we have access to testing.  Your compliance requirements are outlined in the Community Covenant.

In addition to the information conveyed in yesterday’s message, I want to share some important clarifications and additional updates with you:  

Travel guidelines:  During the past few weeks, we have received several requests from students to travel home for urgent reasons, visit a friend, attend a wedding, visit an ailing family member, etc.  In order to ensure the safety of the community, we require any student who needs to complete an overnight visit off campus to notify us of their travel prior to departure and, upon return, to self-monitor and take an on-campus COVID-19 test at their own expense ($150).  “Self-monitoring” means they will have a designated space to live for 10 days, take all meals grab and go, and not be able to attend face-to-face classes or use public spaces, among other restrictions. Please notify us by completing the COVID19 Overnight Visit form. These updated guidelines are necessary to ensure the health and safety of the entire community, particularly as transmission rates are rising here in Minnesota and across the country.   

Social gatherings:  We are beginning to hear about social gatherings on campus.The Covenant requires that you follow Minnesota Department of Health guidelines, which restrict indoor social gatherings to 10 or fewer people, and outdoor social gatherings to 25 or fewer people; you must wear a mask and maintain at least a 6-foot distance from others when indoors and around those with whom you do not share a living space. Residential Life has communicated additional guidelines (e.g., having fewer than 10 people in your room) directly with you. We will investigate and issue sanctions according to the Covenant Sanction Guidelines to individuals who do not follow these protocols. 

And, while we generally do not comment on the validity of rumors, I feel it necessary to respond to an online discussion that has generated some Community Concern Forms in the last 48 hours.  This discussion claims the administration was aware of, and Security Services responded to, a party involving 30 volleyball and football players on Friday, Sept. 25, in the Arboretum, resulting in the teams’ suspension for the season.  We have no confirmed incident reports of a gathering of student athletes from the football and volleyball teams on Friday, Sept. 25; furthermore, the fall sports season was cancelled prior to the start of fall term. If there is a major incident and sanction of this magnitude, you will hear directly from me.

Finally, I want to share a few important reminders:

  • Report any concerning behavior regarding the Covenant by completing a Community Concern form or by calling Security Services at 507-222-4444.  Social media platforms are not official communication channels to the College.
  • Keep your pod small. Limiting the number of people with whom you have close contact is key to maintaining a residential experience this fall. Even though we have a low infection rate on campus, you must continue to be careful about limiting your close contacts, physically distancing yourself from others, and wearing a mask when indoors or in the company of others.
  • Do not eat in classrooms, because doing so requires mask removal. Eat in designated areas, and remain masked at all times when not in your residence or private office space. Refraining from eating in classrooms protects the health of yourself, your peers, and your professors.

I want to express my wholehearted gratitude for the care and respect for others that you have shown during the pandemic. I enjoy seeing you on campus and in Zoom sessions. Let’s not view our low positivity rates as an excuse to be less vigilant about safety protocols, no matter where we are in our community.  Positivity rates are increasing across the country, and we must continue to do our part in reducing the spread of the virus.

Stay safe, Carls! The leaves are falling and the goats are completing their work.

Dean Livingston