Dear Macalester Staff, Faculty, and Students:

Thank you for all you have done, and all you are doing, to protect each other’s health as we continue to navigate the complexities of life during a pandemic.

At the end of the day next Monday, we’ll wrap up our Module 3 quiet period, which is helping us protect each other by reducing contact as we await the results of two rounds of COVID-19 testing. With continued high levels of COVID spread in our region, and emerging data about transmissibility of new variants, now is also the time to renew our efforts in upholding the Mac Stays Safer community commitment. Consistent mask use and physical distancing remain our best and most effective defenses against COVID, despite vaccines on the horizon. Because of our Macalester community’s impressive commitment to mitigation efforts, after February 2 we will be able to move to in-person campus activities, including instructional and co-curricular activities. Successfully moving to in-person gatherings while still minimizing community risk is dependent on our continued support of the Mac Stays Safer community commitment.

Plans for individual classes, labs, rehearsals, studios, events and activities will be at the discretion of relevant faculty and staff.

We recognize the importance of exercise for physical and mental health, and are ensuring students have access to workout facilities while following the state’s COVID-19 guidelines. On February 2, athletic teams will begin masked and distanced practices (phase 1); reservable workout spaces in the Leonard Center (for student-athletes) and stadium (for non-student-athletes) will open; and outdoor recreational and intramural activities will begin.

Please bear in mind that, although in-person college activities will be permitted with precautions, indoor social gatherings of more than 10 people continue to be prohibited per state Executive Order.

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. You should opt out of surveillance testing if you:

  • have tested positive for COVID in the past 90 days,

  • are in isolation from a positive test,

  • are currently ill and awaiting a COVID test results,

  • are in quarantine as a close contact of a person with COVID, or

  • are participating remotely and not coming to campus during module 3 or 4. Examples would include students completing courses, faculty teaching classes, or staff fulfilling work obligations without coming to campus

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.

We’ve received a number of questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, including when it will be available to members of the Macalester community, and whether the college will provide vaccines on campus to students, faculty, and staff. We are in weekly contact with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), but don’t have any updates to share on vaccine plans at this point. While we’re very excited about the potential availability of vaccines that can get us one step closer to where we all want to be — together, in person, as a community — we know we’ll have to be patient. We will share updates as soon as we have them from MDH.

Please continue to wear your face covering when indoors, maintain physical distancing, and wash your hands frequently so we can continue to keep each other safer and minimize our case numbers.

The college’s COVID-19 website is a great resource for more detail. If you have any questions that aren’t answered on the site, please reach out to healthresponse@macalester.edu.

Wishing you well.

Steph Walters, MD, MPH
Paul Overvoorde, PhD
co-chairs, Infectious Disease Task Force

Published: 01/27/2021