Message to Returning Students Sharing Housing and Academic Updates, and Health and Safety Expectations

16 July 2020

Dear Carls,

I hope this message finds you and your families well. Here in Northfield, we have had more 90-degree days than usual, and the “state bird” (the mosquito) seems to be much more active and engaged this summer. Campus is quiet right now, with exception of the frequent visitors to the Arb and the walkers near the Bald Spot. It’s difficult to imagine that just a month ago, the term ended and we held a virtual degree conferral ceremony for the Class of 2020.

I encourage you to review last Friday’s email from President Poskanzer detailing both the college’s plans to reopen this fall and the allied decisions that will be made—and shared with you—as soon as possible. Many staff and faculty are working as quickly as possible to provide information you need to inform your decision-making process.   

On Tuesday evening, I held a Zoom session with first-year and transfer students to discuss information that is now included in the COVID-19 FAQs, which I urge you to consult. Here are some updates: 


There are two important points I want to be sure you’re aware of:

  • We have extended the deadline for you to indicate your plan for this fall. The new deadline for completing the 2020 Housing Planning form is Wednesday, July 22, 2020 at 6 p.m. CDT. We made this change to allow for more town hall sessions to take place so you can make an informed decision. The revised Zoom meeting schedule is near the bottom of this email. Since the president’s message went out on July 10, nearly 1,450 students have indicated their preference for residing in college housing for Fall Term. On-campus housing is guaranteed for first-year students, incoming transfer students, international students, and those students currently living on campus. 
  • The housing plan you indicate now is for Fall Term only. This is a change from what I shared at Tuesday’s town hall with first-year students. Housing plans for winter and spring are under development and will be dependent on the Winter Term course schedule, the availability of Off-Campus Studies programs, and the pandemic situation locally and beyond. We expect to have more information about the Winter Term housing process by the sixth week of Fall Term.

Carleton’s total residential occupancy this fall is 1,795—including 100 students in hotel rooms and 70 students who were previously approved for Northfield Option in February. We have reduced total on-campus residential spaces to provide for adequate physical distancing. Keep in mind that only those 1,795 students are permitted to take classes on campus.

In order to complete housing assignments and prepare rooms for arrival, Residential Life will start communicating with returning students about the room draw process and available spaces beginning Friday, July 24. Students new to Carleton this year can expect to receive their housing assignment in the next 2 weeks. For those students intending to return to campus, you will keep the same room draw numbers you received last spring. If you left items in your Winter Term room, they will be moved to your Fall Term assignment or storage. You will receive communication from Residential Life once items are moved. Items belonging to remote learners will be placed in storage. Additional considerations for selecting Northfield Option will remain limited.

Health and Safety Expectations

Carleton will require and provide COVID-19 testing each term, at no cost to you. In the event you develop COVID-19 symptoms and/or have a positive diagnosis, we will move you to one of the 89 quarantine/isolation spaces available on campus.  We are still unaware of any positive COVID-19 cases among our on-campus student community.

This summer, Carleton began requiring all campus community members to wear face masks, engage in physical distancing, and practice good hand hygiene.  We will continue these practices for the upcoming academic year. Each student will receive a health and safety kit containing a thermometer, hand sanitizer, and two face masks. The public health experts we have consulted tell us that face shields are not a substitute for face masks.

You will be required to monitor your health and submit data each day to confirm your temperature and a check of common COVID symptoms. If you develop symptoms, you will be tested for the virus and quarantined as you wait for results. Positive cases will require isolation (with meal delivery and check-ins from Student Health and Counseling) and remote learning during recovery time. These will be non-negotiable policies. 

If you are unable to adhere to these health and safety requirements, as well as the forthcoming formal set of community expectations, the remote learning environment may be better suited for your needs.

Academic Courses and Grading

The fall 2020 preliminary schedule of courses has been released but is subject to change. A&I seminars, comps, PEAR courses, and music lessons have not yet been added. Please note that Carleton will return to its usual grading system for Fall Term. 

Zoom Sessions

Some of you have expressed a wish for your Zoom session to be held sooner. Below are updated Zoom sessions in Central Time:   

Seniors: July 19 at 4 p.m.
Juniors: July 20 at 6 p.m.
Sophomores: July 21 at noon

The Zoom link will be sent to your Carleton email address. 

Please continue to review the COVID-19 FAQs for the most up-to-date information, and let me know if you have any questions. Beginning next week, I will send you weekly updates regarding the college’s reopening plans.

We are eagerly preparing for your fall return. Thanks to every one of you for your patience as we continue to update our policies, practices, and expectations.

All best,

Dean Livingston

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