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

General Topics

What plans are being made for Fall 2021?

As President Rivera announced on March 31, we are working on plans to reopen the campus in fall with regular occupancy in our residence halls and in-person instruction for most courses. We anticipate continuing to adhere to an updated version of our Mac Stays Safer community commitment to maintain public health behaviors. We also are thinking through how we can support students who may not be able to learn on campus in the fall.

What is the plan for Module 4?

Module 4 begins with a modified (shorter) quiet period through Sunday, March 28. During this time, classes will be held remotely, and we ask off-campus students, and faculty and staff to please minimize their time on campus.

During Module 4, we will open the alumni gym courts and the swimming pool to non-athlete students during non-team training hours. We also will be allowing Mac students, faculty, and staff to be spectators at outdoor gatherings such as performances and athletic events on our campus during Module 4.

Additional details were shared in a March 18 campus update.

Is the college gathering information about vaccination status for members of our campus community?

If you have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and are a Macalester College student, staff, coach, or faculty member, please complete this form. Sharing this information is voluntary. Your input will help the College as it advocates and pursues avenues to ensure eligible community members receive a vaccine. A summary of this self-reported vaccination data is included on the College Dashboard.

What are the plans for Commencement?

Macalester will celebrate our graduating seniors with two different types of commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 15. First, we will host two “Grad Walk” celebrations where seniors can gather together and celebrate in-person. Second, we will hold a virtual Commencement ceremony, so graduates can celebrate with the entire Macalester community, as well as with their friends and family. We hope graduating seniors will participate in both the virtual Commencement ceremony and the in-person Grad Walk.

Our initial plans prohibited spectators from attending the Grad Walks, but given the state’s updated guidance for outdoor gatherings, each graduate is now invited to bring two guests. These walks will also be livestreamed for families, friends, and the Macalester community.

We will hold a Commencement ceremony through Zoom and Facebook on Saturday, May 15, at noon CDT.

Additional information, including answers to frequently asked questions, is available on the Commencement website.

How can Macalester students and employees access COVID-19 vaccines?

On March 26, 2021, Governor Walz announced that starting March 30, all those 16 and older in Minnesota will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, regardless of home state or citizenship status. We strongly encourage all members of the Mac community who can be vaccinated to register right away with the State’s Vaccine Connector. In addition to alerting you to vaccine opportunities, it provides demand information and helps guide where the limited vaccine supplies that arrive in the state are distributed.

According to the state website:
“Not every eligible Minnesotan will immediately be able to make an appointment. Minnesota has directed providers to prioritize vaccine appointments for people most at risk of getting COVID-19, or those who could develop severe illness if infected. This includes older Minnesotans, those with underlying health conditions, and those in frontline jobs.”

Macalester is working hard to procure vaccines but at this time the state has not made an allocation to our campus. We will update the community if/when that changes.

Suggestions for how to get your vaccine shot were shared in a March 26 campus update.

What is Macalester’s guidance around travel during the spring?

Based on the current case levels both regionally and nationally, we are continuing to urge caution when it comes to travel this spring. We hope members of the Macalester community will not travel unless absolutely necessary.

If you do need to travel, or if you significantly expand your circle of contacts here in the Twin Cities, you will be expected to engage in a self-imposed “quiet period” for 14 days after exposure to additional close contacts. The self-imposed quiet period will include participating remotely in classes, co-curriculars, on- and off-campus employment, and other activities. This is because extended indoor exposure to people outside a person’s current Mac “pod” could lead to the spread of the virus when returning to campus.

If you do travel, we recommend that you order a free “at-home” COVID testing kit from the state of Minnesota. The kit will be shipped to you. It is best if the sample is provided 5-7 days after you’ve completed your travel. You will need to log on via Zoom for a virtual visit with a testing supervisor, complete your testing sample, and put the sample in a pre-paid, and pre-addressed UPS package. The package must be dropped off at a UPS drop-off location. (There is a drop-box for UPS in the atrium of the campus center with pickups Monday through Friday in the early afternoon.) Please plan on sharing a positive test result with our Contact Tracing Team at contacttracing@macalester.edu, as we do not get this information directly from the state.

Where can I get information about the latest public health situation on campus and in the larger community?

Our College Dashboard provides an overview of COVID-19 status. The dashboard refreshes daily based on updated data. Student data (on- and off-campus) come from asymptomatic surveillance testing, symptomatic testing through the Hamre Center for Health & Wellness, as well as contact tracing or self-reporting of testing done away from campus. The number of students in isolation or quarantine is monitored and managed by the COVID Case Management team. Employee data come from asymptomatic surveillance testing, contact tracing, or self-reporting. The college also maintains an interactive Regional Dashboard that displays county and state level information.

Do I need to be tested for COVID-19 before entering the United States?

On January 12, 2021, the CDC issued an order requiring all air passengers arriving to the United States from a foreign country to get tested no more than 3 days before their flight departs and to provide proof of the negative result or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 to the airline before boarding the flight. The order is effective as of January 26, 2021. More information is available on the CDC website.

What options are available for study away in 2021-22?

While there continue to be many uncertainties around travel due to COVID-19, the college is cautiously optimistic in planning for study away during the 2021-22 academic year.  

Students who are approved for study away in Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 will receive guidance from the Center for Study Away as needed. If you have questions, please contact your study away advisor directly, or the Center for Study Away at studyaway@macalester.edu.

How will the module system and updated academic calendar affect my financial aid?

Generally speaking, if you are enrolled full-time, the module system will have no effect on your aid. However, please review the Financial Aid COVID-19 FAQ for more specific questions relating to the 2020-2021 academic year.

When will students learn about financial aid resources for Module 5?

The Financial Aid Office hopes to send Module 5 financial aid eligibility notifications to students in early April. Answers to frequently asked questions about financial aid and Module 5 are posted on the Financial Aid Office website.

What opportunities are available for COVID-19 testing?

The college’s weekly asymptomatic COVID-19 surveillance testing will continue, and will be similar to Module 1 and 2 protocols. A sample of Macalester students, faculty, or staff will be notified via an email from COVID Testing that they have been selected to participate on a given date. 

For students, the Hamre Center remains an on-campus option for health advice and symptomatic COVID-19 testing.

For all community members, your own health care provider, the COVID-19 Community Testing Sites, and the test-at home, mail-order Vault kits are ongoing options for access to COVID-19 testing.

For faculty and staff: The Minnesota Department of Health announced guidance for increased 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 is the plan for face coverings? Health monitoring? Quarantine and isolation?

The college, with significant input from the ID Task Force and local health organizations, continues planning to ensure the college has measures in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. That includes:

  • Face coverings: Macalester’s Mac Stays Safer community commitment and face covering policy requires everyone on the Macalester campus wear a face covering when indoors, and outdoors when six-foot physical distancing cannot be maintained.
  • Health monitoring: Daily health self-checks are the best way for each person to monitor their physical health. 
  • Quarantine and isolation: Reducing the number of students in on-campus residence halls allows us greater flexibility to quarantine students in single rooms should they be exposed. Students who are diagnosed with COVID-19 will be physically isolated. Physically-isolated students and students in quarantine will receive regular phone contact from campus health staff. Residential Life and the Office of Student Affairs will help coordinate arrangements for remote learning for physically isolated and quarantined students who live on- and off-campus. In addition, meals will be prepared and delivered for isolated/quarantined students on the college’s meal plan. Students will remain in physical isolation or quarantine until cleared by medical personnel.

More information can be found in the Public Health Practices and Community Norms section of the Return to Campus Plan. 

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 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.

What support is being provided for students, faculty, and staff who have underlying health conditions? Whom do I notify as a student? Whom do I notify as a staff or faculty member?

Protecting the health of our community, particularly those who are most vulnerable, is at the forefront of our planning. We know there are staff, faculty, and students who will not be able to safely return to campus in the fall, and we are ensuring our plans take their needs into account. If you are a student who requires a health accommodation, please contact Disability Services at disabilityservices@macalester.edu for support and guidance. If you are a staff or faculty member who requires a health accommodation, please contact Bob Graf at rgraf@macalester.edu.  

Will students who have to stay home be provided a hotspot for internet? What assistance is available for students without reliable internet connection in their home location?

Whether you’re at home, living off campus, or living in a residence hall, please contact the ITS Help Desk with any technical issues regarding reliable internet access. Technicians will work with you to determine the best solution. This may be a hotspot, or partnering with you to work with your internet provider on a more reliable solution.

If you’re having financial difficulties affording a hotspot, please apply for funds via the Emergency Aid Program. Students approved through the EAP may have a hotspot purchased for them.

What are we doing to mitigate risk in shared bathrooms?

Bathrooms are high-touch surfaces, and like other high-touch surfaces on campus, bathrooms will be cleaned frequently. In order to stay safer, don’t linger in the bathroom, wash hands thoroughly, and wear a face covering in indoor spaces.

We did consider adding seat covers to toilets, but ultimately decided against it. While a cover may help contain some droplets that result from flushing, ultimately that material ends up on the seat and now the next person must touch the contaminated surface. Seat covers also require people to use them, and there is a high likelihood that this will not occur consistently. Bathrooms have higher rates of ventilation than other areas of campus buildings. This increased ventilation means that any contaminated air will be removed from the spaces quickly.

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

The college has suspended all college-sponsored international and non-essential domestic travel. This policy will remain in effect throughout spring 2021 or until public health conditions allow updates.

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Academic Topics   

What plans have been announced for Module 5 (Summer 2021)?

Provost Moe shared a Module 5 registration and next steps memo with students on March 22. Additional detail was shared with faculty and staff.

Module 5 courses will take place between Wednesday, May 19 and Saturday, July 10. Courses will be offered in both fully remote and hybrid modes. Intended mode of delivery is indicated on the Module 5 course schedule.

Details about registration and eligibility for Module 5 are included in the schedule and registration update.

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. Provost Karine Moe shared this decision with the community in a message on December 8.

Will the library have reserve items to check out this year, such as textbooks and laptops?

The DeWitt Wallace Library will not be offering a physical reserves collection (print books, DVDs, or CDs) this academic year. This includes the MCSG print textbook reserve program. In addition, equipment and tech items have moved to the Digital Resource Center and can be checked out using TechCheckout. There will be no laptop checkout on campus this year. Students who do not have access to a laptop that meets their academic needs should reach out to Financial Aid via the Emergency Aid Program. If you have questions about the library or accessing library resources, use the library’s Ask Us! form.

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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

The community commitment requires everyone to wear a face covering. What are the specific expectations and proper protocols?

You should always wear a face covering that covers both nose and mouth when indoors, and outdoors when six-foot physical distancing cannot be maintained.

How to wear your face covering correctly:

  • Wash your hands before putting on your face covering
  • Put it over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin
  • Try to fit it snugly against the sides of your face
  • Make sure you can breathe easily

Clean your face covering regularly:

  • Add to your regular laundry and use warmest water setting for the cloth
  • Dry completely in dryer or in direct sunlight

Please see the Face Coverings policy for more information.

The community commitment makes references to pods. What is a pod?

Pods (or bubbles) are small, self-contained networks of people who limit their non-distanced social interactions to one another — in other words, they’re the small group of people with whom you share air without using face coverings. Medical Director Dr. Steph Walters describes them as a closed circle of close contacts.

How should I interact with people outside of my pod?

You should try to maintain a physical distance of six feet with people outside of your pod.

It is safest to avoid crowded places and gatherings where it may be difficult to stay at least 6 feet away from others who are not from your household or pod. If you are in a crowded space, try to keep six feet of space between yourself and others at all times, and wear a face covering. Face coverings are especially important in times when physical distancing cannot be maintained. Pay attention to any physical guides, such as tape markings or decals on floors, or signs on walls.

I want to hang out with my friends and classmates. What are the restrictions on gatherings?

Seeking human connection is normal, but we know that the more people an individual interacts with at a gathering and the longer that interaction lasts, the higher the potential risk of spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. A good rule of thumb to follow for gatherings is “if it can be virtual, consider making it virtual.”

What are the expectations, in terms of each individual’s role in cleaning shared items and surfaces?

Cleaning is a shared responsibility and it is important that we all regularly clean shared items and surfaces that we use and touch.

Please note that cleaning comes before disinfecting. Cleaning with soap and water (or the EPA-approved disinfectant) removes germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces. Apply friction, using a reusable or disposable towel, then disinfect with the non-toxic EPA-approved disinfectant to remove microorganisms. Apply a fine mist and let it dry. Wash your hands with soap and water after using disinfecting products.

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Staying Healthy

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

Students: If you are a student currently living on campus or in the Twin Cities and are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, please contact the Hamre Center during business hours at 651-696-6275. If you are a student living on campus, please contact Macalester Public Safety evenings and weekends at 651-696-6555. For all students, if you have medical questions during the evening or on weekends, you can call the NurseNow line at 651-696-6275, option 3, to get medical advice.

Faculty and staff: The Minnesota Department of Health announced guidance for increased 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.

If you are a student, staff, faculty member, or contract employee who has been tested at a location other than the Hamre Center and received a positive COVID-19 result, please contact either Paul Overvoorde, Director of COVID Operations (overvoorde@macalester.edu) or Denise Ward, Macalester Contact Tracing Manager (ward@macalester.edu).

Where can I find more information about COVID-19?

Our Government Guidance page includes links to information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Minnesota Department of Public Health, and Ramsey County Public Health.

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

What plans are in place for residence halls and room draw for 2021-22?

Macalester plans to return to regular occupancy in our residence halls for Fall 2021, meaning students will have the opportunity to live together in double and triple rooms. The Room Draw website includes important dates, options (specialty housing included), steps and FAQs.

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Will athletic teams compete this spring?

Athletic teams will participate in intercollegiate competition this spring. The fall and winter programs will play limited schedules, while the spring programs will play against conference opponents only. All plans to return to competition are subject to change in accordance with Minnesota and Macalester’s health and safety policies related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Per MIAC guidelines, spectators are not allowed at indoor facilities, meaning no spectators will be admitted to the Alumni Gymnasium in the Leonard Center. Here is Macalester’s outdoor athletic event spectator policy.

A March 9 announcement about return to competition is available on the Athletics website.

Are student-athletes practicing?

Student-athletes are in a phased approach of the Macalester return to training protocol. All practices are masked with limited contact and adhere to MDH and NCAA recommendations.  Athletes are also tested through the college’s testing program.

Who has access to the Leonard Center?

Information about increased student access to athletic facilities was shared in a March 18 campus update. During Module 4, we will open the alumni gym courts and the swimming pool to non-athlete students during non-team training hours. Recreational use of the gym courts will be limited to three students per basket (with masks required), and swimming will be limited to one student per lane in the pool. Reservable lap swim and court use will begin on March 22 for those who have not expanded their close contacts during spring break, and on March 29 for those who are observing “hunker down” practices. Student reservations for courts and pool access can be made here. Unfortunately, we are not yet ready to provide faculty and staff with access to these facilities.

What are the options for non-student-athletes to exercise on campus?

Macalester Stadium has free weights and cardio equipment reserved for students, faculty, and staff. Those interested must sign up here to reserve a time slot. Hours of the facility are: Monday – Thursday, 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.; Friday, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. Entry into the stadium will be via card access at the main doors off Snelling Avenue. Questions may be directed to lcreservations@macalester.edu.

Can student-athletes use the Leonard Center outside of their team practices?
Student-athletes must reserve time slots here for individual use of the Leonard Center.  The Leonard Center is available as a perch point for student athletes until midnight Monday – Friday and 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. 

How are the workout facilities cleaned between users?

Students are responsible for cleaning the equipment they use when finished. Cleaning supplies are located in each workout area. Student employees are scheduled to do regular cleaning and sanitizing during open hours.

Are locker rooms and showers available for use in the Leonard Center or Stadium?

No locker rooms or showers are available for use. Students are encouraged to come to the facility prepared and return to their place of residence to shower and change clothing. There are bathrooms available in each facility. 

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Support Resources

How is Macalester working to support students during this time? 

We will ensure that all Macalester students have food and a safe place to live. The college will work with all students to ensure they have the technology they need and are able to fulfill their current academic commitments. We will continue to work individually with students and families if extenuating circumstances arise.

A new 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?

Recognizing the value and importance of the learning that happens outside of the classroom…even the virtual one, the Division of Student Affairs has created an online hub for student engagement, community, and involvement. Resources are in place for students to connect and find community through student organizations, programming, chat rooms, and other virtual programs. There will be opportunities to engage in wellness activities such as yoga, fitness classes, and guided reflection. The online hub will highlight pathways to a variety of campus resources available to students through remote connections. 

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: April 2, 2021