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COVID Update – August 19

Dear Macalester Community,

During the past two weeks, we’ve welcomed many students to campus, and we are preparing for first-year students to move into residence halls on Friday, August 26, with returning residential students to move in August 28-30. The increased level of activity marks the start of a new academic year, and we are excited to welcome all students, faculty, and staff.

COVID-19 aware before returning to campus: In order to minimize the impact of COVID-19, please be mindful of the number and types of interactions you have with others in the next weeks. 

  • Prior to traveling to campus, consider limiting your number of close contacts to minimize the likelihood that a COVID-19 diagnosis will disrupt your travel plans.
  • Avoid large indoor public gatherings before your travel to St. Paul. 
  • Limit your number of close contacts and wear a mask when indoors with people outside your daily cohort.
  • We expect students to take a rapid antigen test within 24 hours prior to traveling to campus and to stay home if they test positive. If you test positive please email residential-life@macalester.edu for instructions. We appreciate you keeping our community safer.
  • Faculty and staff are encouraged to test if they have symptoms and/or a known exposure, and to stay home if they test positive. Stay home from work until either (1) you test negative on a rapid antigen test or (2) 10 full days have passed; if you are still testing positive on a rapid antigen test after 10 days, either continue to stay home or wear a high-quality well-fitted mask when you come to campus. Contact your supervisor or department chair to discuss your specific situation.
  • Students and employees are encouraged to proactively consider strategies in case they contract COVID-19, such as making sure they have continued access to rapid antigen tests (see info about student welcome kits below) and a plan for isolation. 

Reporting COVID-19 cases: It’s important that we have information about case counts on campus, both for employees and for students, to inform our policy and response. Students, faculty, and staff who test positive for COVID-19 are expected to report results using this COVID-19 Student, Staff, and Faculty Reporting Form. We are mindful of privacy considerations; only a very limited number of Macalester employees have access to the submitted form data. Information on what to do if you test positive is on our COVID-19 FAQ page.

Residential student accommodation requests: A very limited number of temporary spaces will be available for on-campus residents with specific health-related needs, and these will be assigned based on accommodation requests through Disability Services. All requests will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. We encourage students who may need accommodations to submit this form proactively prior to move-in.

Masking period: As previously announced, our “masking period” began August 10 and continues through the first two weeks of classes (through September 14). During this masking period, high quality (e.g. N95, KN95) masks will be expected in all public indoor spaces on campus. Free high quality masks can be picked up from Federal Retail Pharmacy Program Partners including the CVS on Fairview: ask for free masks at the counter. The Infectious Disease Task Force will review our current context in early September and make recommendations regarding masking moving forward.

Arrival kit for students: All students will receive an arrival kit that includes two high quality masks, two COVID-19 antigen tests, information on how to obtain more tests, and instructions on what to do if you test positive. The kit will also include a small thank you gift. 

  • Students returning to campus before the start of the semester (for athletics, student employment, pre-orientation programs, etc.) will receive a kit from their faculty or staff supervisor/leader. 
  • First-year and transfer students will receive their kit at orientation check in. 
  • All other students may pick up their kit from Bateman Plaza (inclement weather location: McPherson Atrium – second floor of the Campus Center) during these times:
    • Tuesday, Aug. 30: 2-4:30 p.m.
    • Wednesday-Friday, Aug. 31-Sept. 2: 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. and 4:30-7:30 p.m.

Students – bring antigen tests: We recommend students bring multiple rapid antigen tests with them to campus, so that you will have tests readily available. See the COVID-19 website for links and information about obtaining free tests. Most insurance covers the cost of up to eight home tests per month per person insured. We encourage students to order all available free rapid antigen tests from the federal government and the State of Minnesota. If you are ordering tests to your SPO be sure to include your residence hall and room number and the 1600 Grand Avenue street address when ordering. For additional information on off-campus testing resources, and how to use your insurance to purchase or be reimbursed for testing, visit Options for Getting a COVID-19 Test on the Macalester COVID-19 website.

Mac Stays Safer: Our ability to stay safer is only as strong as our shared commitment to each other. As we have since the start of the pandemic, we ask each member of our community—students, staff, and faculty—to engage in behaviors that support each other’s health and well-being and to uphold the elements of our updated Mac Stays Safer Community Commitment.

Thank you for your ongoing efforts to keep each other safer. We look forward to welcoming our community back to campus.

We look forward to welcoming our community in the coming weeks as we begin the 2022-23 academic year.

Jen Jacobsen, MA, MPH, Executive Director, Hamre Center for Health & Wellness
Steph Walters, MD, MPH, Medical Director of the Hamre Center
Co-Chairs, Infectious Disease Task Force

Published: August 19, 2022