on this page:
General Topics and Updates
Vaccination and Booster
Academic Topics
Community Commitment
Staying Healthy
Student Housing
Support Resources
Ways to Help

General Topics and Updates

What COVID-19 testing resources are available?

The drop-down section Options for Getting a COVID-19 Test on the COVID-19 website main page describes several options for COVID-19 testing, including options specific to students and options applicable to all.

What should I do if I test positive for COVID-19?

Updated 5/19/2022: If you get tested for COVID-19 and your test result comes back positive, you should email contacttracing@macalester.edu. The CDC recommends a 10-day isolation period that includes modified behaviors within this time frame. Macalester’s expectation is that an employee or student who is up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations isolate for at least 7 full days following the date of symptom onset or testing. A negative test on day 7, 8, or 9 would allow you to modify your isolation practice to resume activities as long as you wear a well-fitting, high-quality (i.e. N95, KN95, KF94) mask when around others.

I tested positive for COVID-19. Whom should I consider to be a close contact?

The definition of a close contact continues to be anyone who has been within 6 feet of you for a cumulative 15 minutes or more (masked or unmasked) during a 24 hour period. The time frame to consider is the 48 hours prior to the onset of symptoms or providing a sample that resulted in a positive test. Contexts to consider as you develop the list of individuals to contact include meetings, work, meals, and gatherings (large and small).

I tested positive for COVID-19. What do I tell my close contacts? What do my close contacts need to do?

Let your close contacts know that you have tested positive for COVID-19 and that you think they meet the criteria to be considered a close contact. Your message to your close contacts should also include these recommendations from the CDC:

  • Regardless of vaccination status, close contacts should wear a high-quality (i.e. N95, KN95, KF94) mask when around others for 10 days from the date of last contact.
  • Regardless of vaccination status, close contacts should monitor for symptoms and get tested at least 5 days after their close contact; if symptoms develop, isolate and get tested immediately.
  • Close contacts should follow this guidance regarding quarantine:
    • If you have taken the recommended series of COVID-19 vaccinations, you do not need to quarantine.
    • If you are not up to date on vaccines, you should quarantine for at least 5 days from the date of last close contact.
    • If you have tested positive in the last 90 days, completed a 10-day isolation, and recovered, you do not need to quarantine.

Are masks expected in the Leonard Center workout spaces?
Masks are optional in the Leonard Center workout spaces. Masks are expected to be worn in the Hamre Center and in the Athletics training room (these spaces follow guidelines for masking in medical facilities).

What are some reasons individuals may choose to continue to wear a mask?

An individual may choose to wear a mask for a range of reasons. For example, they may be:

  • in spaces where a mask is still expected (e.g. classrooms, labs, and studios; Hamre Center; athletic training room)
  • recovering from a respiratory infection or COVID
  • caring for or visiting someone who is medically vulnerable or in that category themselves 
  • working to protect other high-risk individuals in public places, even if they don’t know them
  • choosing to mask-up in an effort to reduce risks prior to a particular event, activity, or trip
  • avoiding other respiratory illnesses
  • supporting our community of care and helping those around them feel comfortable
  • taking time to adjust their own comfort level with this behavioral change

Why not require masks in ALL indoor spaces rather than making this optional?

Universal masking reduces the number of aerosols released into a space, thereby lowering risks that viral particles could be spread from an individual. The wearer of a mask also reduces the number of aerosol particles taken in through breathing. In a community with high rates of vaccination, good ventilation, and lower case numbers, the benefits of universal masking become more limited since there is a lower likelihood of a positive individual being present in any given setting. If case counts rise in the surrounding area or variants with new transmission patterns emerge, there may be reason to reintroduce universal masking as an additional public health layer.

Why not do away completely with the masking expectations?

We are mindful of the rise of a new COVID-19 subvariant, and the continued presence of cases on campus. While not enough to warrant masking in every situation, classrooms are spaces students and instructors are required to be. 

Masking in classrooms meets the accommodation needs for students and instructors who are in a medically vulnerable category– note the long list of conditions that the CDC includes in defining this category.

What is the difference between PCR and rapid antigen tests?

This New York Times article contains useful graphics and an overview of the different types, uses, and sensitivities of COVID-19 tests.

  • PCR test: PCR-based tests are extraordinarily sensitive because they make use of technology that replicates very low numbers of genetic fragments to levels that are reliably detectable.
  • “Rapid antigen” test: While antigen tests can rapidly determine whether a particular coronavirus protein is present, antigen tests rely on direct detection methods that limit the sensitivity of the test. In other words, if an infected person is carrying large quantities of virus (often associated with symptoms and spread) the test would be positive and evidence of a coronavirus infection.

What plans are in place for campus-wide events in early summer, including Reunion?

In alignment with Macalester’s community of care, for all large events on campus held indoors — including Reunion events — wearing a high quality mask (e.g KN95, N95) will be expected. At these events, we strongly encourage attendees to be up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations; however, they will not be required. We ask that guests who are not up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations have a negative antigen test within 24 hours of attending a campus event. Regardless of vaccination status, anyone with symptoms should not attend.

  • Reunion will be held on campus June 2-5 for all who want to attend, including 50th Reunions for the classes of 1970, 1971, and 1972. Information is available on the Reunion website.

How can I get a record of my immunization status?

For those vaccinated in Minnesota, you can now view your immunization record via an app or request this information electronically from the state. This can be very helpful for travel or event attendance requirements.

What is the policy for having visitors on campus?

All visitors are expected to wear a well-fitted mask while indoors in public spaces, regardless of vaccination status.

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Vaccination and Booster

Are students and employees required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and booster?

Yes, Macalester requires COVID-19 vaccination and booster for all employees (including new employees) and for all students, including those entering in the fall of 2022. More information for students will be shared by the Hamre Center staff over the summer. Exceptions to this requirement include those in the waiting period for when a booster can be provided, and those who have an existing COVID-19 vaccine exemption in place. In the rare instance that your medical provider has recommended against your receiving a booster dose based on reaction to the first regimen, please send a note to contacttracing@macalester.edu.

Where can I get a COVID-19 vaccine? 

The federal government has created vaccines.gov as a one-stop site for locating pharmacies with COVID-19 vaccine supply. Enter your zip code, search radius, and desired vaccine and the system shows you locations and links to open appointments. 

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Academic Topics   


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Community Commitment

What is the Mac Stays Safer community commitment?

Our individual and community health depends on our choices and actions. Our ability to stay safer is only as strong as our shared commitment to each other. View the Mac Stays Safer community commitment.

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Staying Healthy

What should I do if I feel sick or have COVID-19 symptoms?

If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, it is important to minimize your interactions with others. Hunker down in your room, wear a well-fitting mask if you need to leave your room, make use of grab-n-go food options, and maintain 6-feet distance where possible.

Students: You can contact the Hamre Center, 651-696-6275 or health@macalester.edu, during business hours to make an appointment. Call the Access Nurse line (651-696-6275, option 3)*  for 24/7 medical advice. If you are experiencing severe symptoms and want to be seen urgently, see this list of urgent and emergency care medical resources.

If individuals are vaccinated but sick (non-COVID-related illness), should they still stay home and work from home?

As part of our Mac Stays Safer 2.0 Community Commitment, Macalester community members promise to stay home if ill or experiencing symptoms of a cold, flu, or COVID-19. Supervisors, professors, coaches, and peers will respect such decisions. 

What do I do if I have an urgent concern or an emergency?  

In case of a life-threatening emergency, call 911.

  • Students: If you need care after hours, please visit the Hamre Center’s Urgent and Emergency Care page for resources. If this is an emergency, please call 911. 
  • For students living on campus, Macalester Public Safety is available 24/7 to provide advice or respond to a concern. Public Safety will also connect with Student Affairs staff who can assist and follow up.

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Student Housing


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Support Resources

How is Macalester working to support students? 

An Emergency Aid Program is available to help students experiencing financial distress. This program comes in response to a general concern about unexpected expenses that can disrupt a student’s educational trajectory, especially students who have no financial safety net. COVID-19 has underlined the need for such a program. More information about this program, and the form students should use to begin the process, can be found on the Financial Aid website.

What resources are available to support virtual community and wellness?

The Division of Student Affairs offers resources for students to connect and find community through student organizations, programming, chat rooms, and other virtual programs. There are opportunities to engage in wellness activities such as yoga, fitness classes, and guided reflection.

What support resources are available for faculty and staff?

The Hamre Center for Health & Wellness provides a Mental Health Tools for Faculty and Staff portal. These tools include the WellTogether initiative, syllabus statements, and resource lists.

Employment Services shared a COVID-19 Employee Resource Guide. This guide includes information about COVID-19 testing and details about several Macalester benefits for faculty and staff including the Employee Assistance Program.

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Ways to Help

How can faculty, staff, and parents help Macalester students?

Thanks to those of you who’ve asked how to support students. You can make a gift to the Macalester Fund, which provides critical flexible support that can be deployed rapidly wherever it’s needed. Gifts will help our students with unanticipated expenses and help every campus department reimagine remote student support and programming. Any gift is appreciated.

What can alumni do to help?

Many of you in our thoughtful and generous community have asked how you can help. Thank you! Here are some ways to do that: 

  • Support Macalester students in a time of need. As the needs of our students, faculty, and staff grow and evolve, gifts to the Macalester Fund provide critical flexible support that can be deployed rapidly wherever it’s needed. Your Macalester Fund gift will help reimagine remote student support and programming by every department—from the Library to Health and Wellness to Career Exploration. Your gift will also help meet the rising student need for food through Open Pantry, provide support for lost student employment wages, and provide supplemental financial aid for students whose needs have increased during this crisis.
  • Be available to share career advice. During this tumultuous time, students could really use your career advice. Turn on your CareerHelper badge in MacDirect to show students you are open and willing to connect.
  • Hire a Macalester student. Have an opening at your organization, even for part-time work? Fill out this quick Google form and we’ll share it with students.
  • Stay connected and supportive. Show your Macalester pride—in conversations, on social media, wherever you are. Share your love for students and each other. This pride will help bring comfort and will also help prospective students see the community they will be a part of if they choose Mac. Reach out to friends and classmates through your local or class-year social media channels as well as through MacDirect, our online alumni directory.


  • For students or parents of current students: Have a question that isn’t answered in our FAQ or on this site? Please email us at healthresponse@macalester.edu
  • For alumni: Have a question that isn’t answered in our FAQ or on this site? Please email us us at alumnioffice@macalester.edu

Reviewed: May 19, 2022