on this page:
General Topics
Well-Fitted Masks
Vaccination: General
Academic Topics
Community Commitment
Staying Healthy
Student Housing
Support Resources
Ways to Help

General Topics

What is the difference between quarantine and isolation? What are quarantine guidelines for people who have been vaccinated?

This helpful COVID-19 Quarantine vs. Isolation infographic from the CDC defines the differences between quarantine and isolation and provides recommendations for what to do if you have been exposed based on your vaccination status.

Where can I get information about the latest public health data from campus?

Our College Dashboard provides data about Macalester’s testing and vaccination rates.

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.

Who is a close contact?

A close contact is someone who was within 6 feet for more than a cumulative 15 minutes in a 24-hour period that fell within the 48 hours prior to an individual either testing positive for COVID-19 or showing symptoms.

Does the college have a contact tracing system in place to notify community members about potential exposures?

Yes, Macalester works closely with the Minnesota Department of Health to exchange information about COVID-19 positive test results and follow up with those who have been identified as close contacts.

The contact tracing system will identify situations where notifications are needed, based on factors such as:

  • When a class or group last met: was it within 48 hours of the positive test?
  • Who was within 6 feet of the person who tested positive for 15 minutes within a 24 hour period?

We encourage classes or groups to use a seating chart or photo to know who was seated by whom.

What do I do if I am a close contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19?

The current recommendations from MDH and CDC differentiates based on whether the person is showing symptoms, as well as whether they are fully vaccinated (i.e. 14 days or more since final dose of vaccination regime), under vaccinated (i.e. less than 2 weeks since final vaccine dose or unvaccinated), or tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days.

If you have symptoms you should self-isolate and seek testing. Avoid contact with others as much as possible until test results are returned. This includes staying away from classes, meetings, practices, and events.

If you do not have symptoms, fully vaccinated individuals are not required to quarantine. Students, faculty, or instructors may continue to attend class in person.

Fully vaccinated close contacts are, however, expected to:

  1. Get tested 3-5 days after being in contact with the person that tested positive. 
    • If identified through contact tracing a close contact would receive instructions for testing from Macalester’s contact tracing team. Testing sooner than 3-5 days provides unreliable information as the viral loads may be below reproducible levels of detection during the first days of an individual being infected.
    • For all (i.e. students, staff, and faculty) the free “at home” COVID-19 test kits from MDH remain available and the state has re-opened a number of free testing sites
  2. Follow other public health measures until the test result is returned. The public health measures include wearing a well-fitted mask, maintaining 6-feet distance when possible (especially while eating), and in case their test comes back positive, being sure to make a mental note of those that they spend time within 6-feet of for 15 minutes.

Under vaccinated individuals are expected to quarantine for at least 10 days and get tested on day 7. If the test is negative and no symptoms develop, the person can exit quarantine after day 10 and should continue closely monitoring for symptoms through day 14.

If you have fully recovered from COVID-19 in the past 90 days and are identified as a close contact of a COVID-positive individual, you do not need to quarantine.

Questions about close contacts and quarantine can be directed to contacttracing@macalester.edu.

I’ve been identified as a close contact of someone who tested positive and I am fully vaccinated with no symptoms. What should I do while I wait to be tested on day 3-5 and while I am waiting for my results?

  • If you do not have symptoms, you are allowed to attend classes, and should work to keep others safer by layering as many public health strategies as possible: wear a well-fitted mask, maintain 6-feet distance, wash hands frequently, monitor for symptoms, stay away if ill, etc.
  • While you are waiting for your test and the results, you should invest additional energy in adhering to public health practices such as wearing a well-fitted mask; maintaining  6-feet of distance from others when possible; making use of grab-n-go dining options so you can eat outdoors or distanced from others; and trying to keep mental track of those that would fit the definition of a close contact in case your test comes back positive.

I’ve been told by a student in one of my classes that they have tested positive for COVID-19. What should I do?

  • The contact tracing team will notify the instructor that a student in their class or lab has tested positive. Such information should not be broadly shared and is provided on a need-to-know basis to the instructor so they can make informed decisions about potential accommodations for the student while they are in isolation and not able to attend class.
  • The COVID contact tracing team will work closely with the student who tested positive to determine if anyone meets the definition of close contact. Instructors don’t need to take specific action unless they are asked to share seating charts to help identify close contacts.
  • If you as an instructor think you meet the definition of a close contact or would like to be tested as a precaution you are encouraged to make use of the free “at home” test kit offered by the MN Department of Health or to visit one of the testing sites the state maintains. Of course,  you can also contact your medical provider for advice or other testing options.

I’ve been told by a student in one of my classes that they have been identified as a close contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19. What should I do?

  • You can remind the student that fully vaccinated close contacts who do not have symptoms are not expected to quarantine but should monitor for symptoms and get tested as explained in the FAQ above. You can thank the student for sharing that news with you, and ask if they are getting the services or resources they need. If they have questions you can direct them to healthresponse@macalester.edu.
  • No action or changes need to be made in the classroom environment based on this news. 

If an employee tests positive for COVID-19, what do they have to do before returning to work? Do they need to provide a negative test result? 

An employee who tests positive for COVID-19 should observe at least a 10 day isolation period starting at the time they tested positive or first showed symptoms. The employee should consult with their health care provider if they have any symptoms or may be immunocompromised. The healthcare professional is in the best position to provide advice on when the infectious period for an individual has ended.

An individual should not use testing to demonstrate they are cleared to return to in-person work. In fact, unless they develop symptoms and are told by a healthcare professional to be tested, they should avoid asymptomatic COVID-19 testing for 90 days after testing positive.

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.

What changes have been made to improve air circulation in campus buildings?

All buildings have had their HVAC adjusted. For each building, the percentage of “clean” outdoor air being brought in has been maximized, as has the amount of “dirty” air that is being exhausted. In classrooms and other gathering spaces the number of air changes per hour has been increased to a minimum of four times per hour.

Is the college permitting work-related travel or college-sponsored travel?

In addition to Study Away, as of September 1, 2021, college-supported domestic and international travel is allowed for fully vaccinated faculty, staff, or students. Those traveling are expected to follow the CDC guidance for domestic and international travel.

Has the college placed any restrictions on serving food indoors (at class lunches, seminars, etc.)?

There are no food restrictions for meetings or gatherings. Masks can be removed while actively eating and partially or un-vaccinated individuals are strongly encouraged to maintain 6-feet distance from others outside of their pod of close contacts. Well-fitted masks should be worn while waiting in lines for events (i.e. Cafe Mac, Orientation dinner, etc.).

What support is available for students who need to isolate or quarantine during the semester?

Macalester’s support for students in isolation or quarantine includes coordination of delivery of meals and if needed mail or library resources. Health and Wellness Center staff will provide daily wellness checks, and there is a dedicated COVID Case Management team that is responsive to students’ requests.

The college has designated isolation housing for residential students who test positive for COVID-19.

If an off-campus student needs to quarantine, will they do that in their off-campus housing or on campus? If an off-campus student tests positive, will they isolate in their off-campus housing, or the college’s isolation space?

Students who live off-campus would isolate (if they test positive) and quarantine (if they are unvaccinated and are exposed to a person who has tested positive) in their off-campus housing. The only people who would quarantine or isolate on campus are students with on-campus housing. Note that fully vaccinated individuals will not have to quarantine, but they should get tested 3-5 days after being a close contact of someone who tests positive, wear a well-fitted mask when in shared indoor spaces, and monitor for symptoms for 14 days.

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Well-Fitted Masks

Where can I find the college’s Well-Fitted Mask Policy?

Macalester’s Well-Fitted Mask Policy is available here.

If an employee (facilities, for example) is working alone or in a room or space with few others and there is limited traffic of others through this area, are they expected to wear a mask?

No. In such instances they may remove their mask. 

Is it OK to ask students to wear masks at all times in the classroom, even when speaking?
Yes. Mask wearing is about community care and instructors are encouraged to discuss and develop norms for the class regarding the use of well-fitted masks.

How does the well-fitted mask expectation apply to the residential setting?

A residence hall room/suite/apartment/house is considered a private space, and that residents in that particular residential space can remove their mask. For example, two roommates in their room in Dupre can remove their masks while inside of their private room. Please wear a well-fitted mask when you walk through the hallways and communal spaces inside of the residence hall.

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Vaccination: General

Where can I get a COVID-19 vaccine? How do I report my vaccination status?

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. 

Macalester will require all students and employees who will work or study on campus to either be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit required exception requests by Aug. 2. Students should upload their COVID-19 vaccination documents through the Hamre Center’s patient portal. Faculty and staff should use this form to affirm that they are fully vaccinated. Note that this form is different from the earlier form which you may have filled out to indicate that you had received at least one dose of the vaccine.

Will students and employees be required to have received a COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes, with limited exceptions for medical or non-medical reasons. An August 2, 2021 deadline for providing vaccinations status was communicated to the Macalester community in an April 23, 2021 email message from President Rivera.

Can a vaccinated person test positive for COVID-19?

It is possible, but the risk of infection, severe illness or death is significantly lower after vaccination. Such “breakthrough cases” would be expected as no vaccine is 100% effective in preventing all infections. If you exhibit any of the signs associated with COVID-19, contact your healthcare provider for guidance.

Does a vaccinated person need to wear a well-fitted mask and follow other safety precautions?

Until public health conditions improve, we expect everyone to wear a well-fitted mask when in public indoor spaces regardless of vaccination status.

Whether vaccinated or not, continuing to monitor for symptoms, staying home when ill, and continuing to practice good hand hygiene are all public health measures that help minimize the spread of all diseases in our community, not just the coronavirus.

What public health behaviors are expected of those that have not received a COVID-19 vaccine but who participate on campus?

The small number of unvaccinated students and employees are required to participate in asymptomatic testing. Per the current CDC guidelines, those who are unvaccinated are expected to wear a well-fitted mask and to maintain 6-feet of physical distance from others when possible. Additional expectations of unvaccinated community members will depend on community levels of vaccination, amount of circulating virus, and updates to either CDC or MDH recommendations. 

As of June 25, and per CDC recommendations, regardless of vaccination rate, students who are unvaccinated for any reason will be expected to self-isolate if they exhibit COVID-19 symptoms, obtain COVID-19 testing, and go into quarantine if they have a known exposure to a lab-confirmed positive case. 

Please note that as MDH and/or CDC guidelines change, Macalester’s policies may be updated.

How does the vaccination requirement apply to ACTC students who plan to take a course at Macalester in the fall?

Using this form, ACTC students will be required to submit vaccine information or a request for medical/non-medical exemption.  Most ACTC schools also have very high levels of vaccination rates, and some are also requiring vaccines. As with our Macalester students, there will be people for medical or non-medical reasons, who don’t have a vaccine, and they will receive the same messaging as our own students about behaviors expected of non-vaccinated individuals.

I’ve received a vaccine not authorized in the US and want to be revaccinated with an FDA-authorized vaccine. Can this happen?

As of June 21, according to the CDC no data are available on the safety or efficacy of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine currently authorized in the United States after receipt of a non-FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine. However, in some circumstances people who received a COVID-19 vaccine not currently authorized in the United States may be offered revaccination with an FDA-authorized vaccine. Students should consult with the Hamre Center, and employees should discuss with their healthcare provider.

Where can I learn more about COVID-19 vaccines?

  • The CDC website provides detailed information about COVID-19 vaccines.

The Minnesota COVID-19 Response webpage contains links to vaccine data for the state.

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Academic Topics   

Will the college return to a semester calendar for Fall 2021?

In response to student and faculty input, and following the recommendation of the Education, Policy, and Governance (EPAG) committee, the college will return to a semester calendar, beginning in the fall of 2021.

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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.

What is the protocol for absences if a student, faculty member, or staff is sick?

Students, faculty, and staff should report positive COVID-19 cases to ContactTracing@macalester.edu

The college encourages maximum flexibility for students who are ill. The isolation period for students who need to isolate following a positive COVID-19 diagnosis is 10 days. If students are asymptomatic, they should be encouraged to keep up as they can with coursework.

Faculty who have to isolate or quarantine, or who have dependents who do, may teach online during their isolation or quarantine period. The staff remote working policy shared earlier this summer includes guidance for handling short-term arrangements with supervisors.

As the college did last year, it will once again add two weeks of sick leave, prorated to each employee’s FTE assignment, to sick leave balances. These two weeks are available to help cover any days or hours missed to care for yourself or a loved one due to COVID-19, and will be available beginning September 15.

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. 

I am fully vaccinated and have been advised to take a COVID-19 test after 3-5 days, what resources are available?

If you are a student, you can pick up a COVID-19 test at the Information Desk in the Campus Center.

Faculty and staff: The Minnesota Department of Health offers guidance for access to COVID testing. For more information about COVID-19 testing and related Macalester benefit programs, refer to this Employment Services COVID-19 Employee Resource Guide.

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: October 12, 2021