Macalester Staff and Faculty:

I write to you as the chair of the Infectious Disease Task Force with initial guidance for minimizing the spread of COVID-19 in our community as we prepare for the fall. Please note that the college’s working groups continue to work with senior staff to develop comprehensive and coordinated processes for the beginning of the academic year, and more specific plans will soon follow. As our understanding of coronavirus evolves, so will our policies and approaches. Throughout it all, we must be transparent about our uncertainty, share dilemmas, and work together to choose between options that are far from ideal. Until we have more comprehensive policies and procedures, this memo serves as initial guidance for the summer months.

The way we will be most successful in minimizing the spread of COVID-19, protecting our most vulnerable community members, and slowing the impact on our health care system will be to work together. Until we have herd immunity or a vaccine, carefully following common sense public health practices is the best prevention tool we have to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Following are the college’s expectations for the summer:

  • Most employees will continue to work from home. If you are among the employees who have been working from home, but need to return to campus, you will need to consult with your supervisor or department chair to coordinate the number of individuals in a space.

  • All members of the campus community will wear a mask when they are in indoor shared spaces (such as hallways, bathrooms, common areas) and/or if they are outdoors within 6 feet of people who are not already an intimate or household contact.  For examples of when a mask is indicated, please visit Protect Yourself & Others: COVID-19.  If you need a mask, please request one here.

  • Observe social distancing guidelines by staying at least six feet apart.

  • Only two people should be in any small, confined space (such as an elevator) at a time unless they are in each other’s shelter group (meaning they live together or are regularly sharing space).

  • Buildings that are closed will remain closed for the summer.  For example, if you come to campus, the Leonard Center facilities remain closed. Additional information about the library will arrive in a future message.

  • Stay away from work when you are ill. Also, a reminder that Minnesota currently has the capacity to COVID test all symptomatic persons. In addition to getting the health care you need to keep you and your loved ones safe, for the sake of public health data, please do seek out testing if you have any of the symptoms listed by the CDC.

  • If a healthcare worker or public health professional advised you to self-isolate or self-quarantine please follow their advice.

  • No non-essential work-related travel.

  • Until specific guidance comes out, please continue to percolate on how your area might function with 6-ft social distancing recommendations in place.  Please don’t take specific action at this time, but do continue to brainstorm and discuss ideas with your colleagues.

As many of you are aware, our work on campus continues. Over the past month, Residential Life has worked closely with students on retrieving their belongings from residence halls, and the move-out process is nearly complete. Facilities staff have begun cleaning the residence halls, and planning is underway to reconfigure public and classroom spaces to support social distancing. Procurement and Facilities Services are procuring the supplies we will need for the fall.

We will continue to work closely with, and follow guidance from, the Minnesota Department of Health as it is released. Note that the college’s working groups and the ID Task Force are integrating these guidelines into Macalester’s plans.

We continue to update the COVID-19 website, which you can access here. If you have specific questions or suggestions, please share them at healthresponse@macalester.edu.

Steph Walters, MD, MPH
Chair, Macalester College Infectious Disease Task Force

Published: 6/5/2020