Following is the college’s current plan to return to campus this fall. It is grounded in guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), and the work of the Infectious Disease Task Force and other campus working groups. Implementation will be overseen by Professor Paul Overvoorde, Special Advisor to the President and Director of COVID Operations. Staff and faculty at the college have been at work all summer making changes to the campus that minimize the risks for our community.
Flexibility this fall will be key. It is possible that, despite our best attempts to welcome people back to physical campus in person, evolving circumstances may necessitate that we change course. We will continue to update the plan as conditions evolve.
For the first 7 ½ week module, we will bring a smaller group of students back to campus housing.
All students will be tested twice: first, upon their arrival on campus and second, within the subsequent two weeks.
From move-in through September 16, we will implement a “quiet period.” During this time, every member of the community will minimize their in-person interactions both on and off campus.
Beginning September 17, we have cautiously relaxed some of our “quiet period” restraints. Hybrid instruction for first-year students and in-person co-curricular activities can resume as long as all of the principles of our community commitment are met.
At the beginning of Module 2 (October 28), in-person instruction can be available at faculty discretion–while practicing all the Mac Stays Safer behaviors–for all local students as long as all COVID-19 infection indicators are stable. Also on this date, in-person co-curricular activities can be offered at the discretion of the activity leader.
Residence halls will close for winter break at noon on Saturday, December 19. The current plan is to reopen residence halls on January 19. We will continue to have one student per residence hall room. Most campus buildings and facilities including residence halls will be closed to students between December 19 and January 19. We will begin Module 3 (January 21) with a 14-day quiet period as we bring the community back together.
Mac Stays Safer
Our Shared 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. We are asking each of you—students, staff, and faculty—to be flexible and adopt new behaviors to support the well-being of our community and keep each other as healthy and protected as possible. The elements of our community commitment come from the Minnesota Department of Health and other public health guidance. We each have a role to play in our culture of mutual care, accountability, and safety.
Move-in and orientation activities have been completed.
We will continue to work closely with the Minnesota Department of Health on general public health guidance, as well as specific policies and procedures, such as contact tracing. Building on our Mac Stays Safer community commitment and the summer guidance for staff and faculty, as part of the plan to care for our community, the college will provide:
- Face Coverings: Everyone on the Macalester campus is required to wear a face covering that covers both their nose and mouth when indoors. Face coverings must be worn outdoors when six-foot physical distancing cannot be maintained.
Face Coverings Policy
- Training: A mandatory COVID-19 public health training will be completed by all staff, students, and faculty prior to the start of the academic year.
- Health Monitoring:
- Macalester will provide each member of the community with a welcome back health kit that will include: two face coverings, hand sanitizer, a thermometer, and a copy of the Mac Stays Safer community commitment.
- The college will ask each member of the community to report if they are diagnosed with COVID-19. Specific details will be included in the kit.
- Macalester will use CampusClear, a symptom checking app that will help students, faculty, and staff conduct a daily health self-screening. The app was developed with personal data security in mind. The college will not use responses through the app to track or follow-up with any individual. Instead, each person is expected to seek medical advice for any symptoms they experience, which might include getting tested. The aggregate information, without any association with specific individuals, will be used to help monitor the community’s COVID status.
- Dashboards: We’ve added a Macalester COVID-19 dashboard with aggregate information for Macalester students, staff, and faculty. A regional dashboard provides information on the COVID-19 situation in the Twin Cities area (including surrounding counties) and the state of Minnesota.
- At the beginning of Module 1, students were tested twice: first, upon their arrival on campus, and second, within the subsequent two weeks. College employees were also offered the same testing opportunities. For students living in campus housing, initial testing was a required step in their check-in process.
- The college will carry out COVID-19 surveillance testing for asymptomatic community members during the remainder of Module 1 and throughout Module 2. Beginning October 12, surveillance testing will gather community-level information by sampling a subset of students, staff, and faculty each week.
- Students who will move into Macalester residential housing for the first time at the start of Module 2 will be required to participate in two rounds of initial asymptomatic testing. Until they receive the results of both rounds of testing, these students will be required to participate remotely in courses and co-curricular activities.
- The Hamre Center for Health & Wellness offers COVID-19 testing for students who have symptoms of COVID-19 or who have been exposed to someone with a confirmed positive COVID-19 test.
- Quiet Period: From move-in through September 16, in order to manage the risks associated with travel and of bringing the community together for the first time, we will implement a “quiet period.” During this time, every member of the community will minimize their in-person interactions both on and off campus. Students will be able to leave their rooms, gather in small groups while observing physical distancing, spend time outdoors, and get meals from the dining hall. However, all classes will be held remotely for the first two weeks of Module 1, and during this time, there will be no in-person, extra-curricular activities.
- Pre-arrival Quarantine: The quiet period does NOT eliminate the need for residential students to reduce their in-person interactions before they travel to campus. Minimizing risks during the two weeks before traveling to campus will help keep the campus community safe. Any student planning to come to Saint Paul should treat the two weeks prior to their arrival as a self-quarantine period. Any student with possible COVID-19 symptoms when they are scheduled to travel to campus should stay home and contact Student Affairs.
- Quarantine and Isolation: Because we must plan for the eventuality that the SARS-CoV-2 virus will appear on campus, we reduced the number of students in on-campus residence halls . The lower density provides greater flexibility to quarantine students in single rooms should they be considered a close contact. The college has developed detailed plans for isolation and quarantine for students and residential life staff who live on campus and test positive for COVID-19 or are exposed. The plan also provides isolation guidelines and quarantine information for students who live off campus.The Hamre Center, Public Safety, and Residential Life will work together to support students who are in quarantine and isolation, including regular contact from campus health staff and contactless meal delivery. 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. Students will remain in physical isolation or quarantine until cleared by medical personnel. Affected faculty or staff will follow quarantine and isolation protocols at home.
- Contact Tracing: When a student, faculty, staff, or campus visitor tests positive for COVID-19, MDH will be notified by the lab that conducts the test. The MDH is encouraging partnerships with institutions of higher education for contact tracing. Knowledge of the local layout and social contexts can aid in rapidly and thoroughly identifying close contacts (i.e. within six feet for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24 hour period). Close contacts can then be referred for testing and quarantine.The Special Advisor to the President will oversee a Campus Contact Coordinator (CCC). The CCC will work with MDH to ensure that those considered a “close contact” are notified of their requirement to be tested and to quarantine. The name of the individual testing positive will not be used in this notification process. The CCC will also oversee the training and activity of a team of five contact tracers who may assist in the communication and notification process. When a positive case on campus has been identified, the CCC will serve as the lead in ensuring on-campus communications among Facilities, Public Safety, Residential Life, Bon Appetit, and the Provost’s office. The CCC will also determine what other offices or individuals need to be contacted. For instance, if a campus space will be closed for disinfecting, those who work or use that space will receive notification. In the event that multiple cases are detected on campus, the CCC will work with MDH to determine the relatedness of the cases and whether they constitute an outbreak that poses an immediate threat to the campus community. With the input of MDH, mitigation strategies will be implemented.
Given the unpredictable nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have determined that our best way forward is to choose a calendar structure that provides flexibility for us to pivot more easily from in-person to remote learning (if it should become necessary to do so) and to ensure that our students can complete a full year of instruction.
With these goals in mind, we plan to follow a modified version of our traditional semester calendar:
- We will begin classes on September 2.
- We will split each 15-week semester into two 7.5-week modules;
- During each module students will enroll in two four-credit courses. Planning for students to enroll in two classes at a time provides a contingency should health concerns dictate that we need to pivot to remote learning, and allows us to accommodate our students who are not able to join classes in-person (e.g. are not able to travel to campus, fall in a high-risk category, contract the virus, etc.)
- Five-credit language courses will be taught across both modules for the full term/semester.
- We have added a summer module, or Module 5, to offer additional scheduling options. Module 5 will start on May 19 and end on July 10.
- Here’s a link to the current calendar.
Although many aspects of the teaching and learning experience this fall will be different than what we are used to at Macalester, one critical thing will not be different: The experience will remain deeply grounded in the aspects of small liberal arts college courses that motivated students to choose Macalester. All classes, whether they are a mixture of in-class and remote learning or fully remote, will offer real-time, face-to-face interaction, both student-faculty and peer-to-peer. Classes will be intellectually engaging, personally meaningful, and interactive.
To meet these goals, we are taking the following steps:
- We are planning for rich, engaging classes that are sensitive to the disparate pressures facing members of our community, and we are focusing on creative solutions to enable everyone to access their courses and materials in ways that are equitable and safe.
- Academic technology staff are working closely with faculty to support their preparation for fall classes. Because there is more time to prepare, the teaching and learning experience will be very different from what everyone figured out “on the fly” in the spring when we made an emergency shift to remote teaching.
- Many faculty and staff are taking advantage of resources provided by a variety of summer workshops on critical digital pedagogy and responsive and resilient course design to help them prepare for fall 2020. These resources emphasize strategies and practices that represent some of the very best advice in faculty development and instructional pedagogy, including the importance of clarity and transparency, inclusivity and equity, and the use of multiple forms of engagement and assessment.
- These course development resources also include information about trauma-informed pedagogy and stress the importance of attending to learning contexts shaped by the pandemic and by ongoing racism and anti-Blackness.
All of Macalester’s classes will be accessible to students whether they are in-person or remote.
In addition to the information shared in President Rivera’s fall planning memo, below are more details on the physical changes that have been made, or are being made, on campus. Many of these are based on guidance given by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) during a tour of the campus.
- Seating arrangements that adhere to the six-foot physical distancing requirement have been determined for each classroom.
- Disinfecting supplies will be provided in each classroom for faculty and student use between classes.
- Shared materials, such as whiteboard markers, will be eliminated.
- HVAC systems have been adjusted to increase the amount of fresh air being introduced to buildings, and the number of air changes has been increased to a minimum of four per hour.
- Multiple spaces that previously have not served as classrooms (e.g. Weyerhaeuser Boardroom, John B. Davis lecture hall, etc.) are being repurposed for teaching. A set of outdoor spaces is being identified and will be reservable.
- Office hours will be in-person only if appropriate physical distancing can be maintained.
- Residence Halls:
- Based on guidance during an in-person walk-through with representatives of the MDH, we are reducing the number of students who live in the traditional residence halls. The reduced density allows more on-campus students to quarantine in place if they should become exposed to the virus.
- Modifications to bathrooms and posted expectations about the use of shared spaces adhere to, or exceed, Centers for Disease Control, Minnesota Department of Health, and American College Health Association recommendations and guidance for those spaces.
- Dining Services:
- Expand hours to provide continuous food service for longer blocks of time.
- Utilize a reservations system in Cafe Mac to control the number of students in the dining areas.
- Implement strategies to promote six foot distance in lines.
- Provide sanitizing dispensers at entry and exit points to encourage hand hygiene.
- Eliminate self-service buffet stations; convert salad bar/condiment stations to single serving containers; clearly mark six foot distance around food stations.
- Use laminated cards to indicate if a table has been sanitized: green means table has been sanitized; red means still needs disinfection.
- Redistribute seating to maintain six foot physical distance.
- Install plexiglass barriers at registers to protect cashiers.
- Establish plans to have public safety deliver food to individuals who are in isolation and others to transport food to those in quarantine.
- Make available grab-and-go menu and implement the use of an app for remote food ordering and pick-up.
- General Spaces:
- By mid-August, in common areas across campus, including Café Mac, lounges, meeting rooms, and other shared spaces, furniture will be rearranged to support physical distancing.
- Building access hours will be limited to staff, students, and faculty, and everyone will need to badge into the buildings.
- Two campus spaces, Kagin Ballroom and the second-floor Leonard Center atrium, will be designated as student gathering locations.
- Hand sanitizers have been installed in multiple locations in each building, and sanitizing supplies will be available.
- Paper towels will be available in all restrooms. Hand dryers should not be used.
- Plexiglass partitions will be installed at transaction counters around campus.
- We do not plan to use tents to increase our meeting or classroom space capacity. However, classes and meetings may be held outdoors with appropriate physical distancing.
- Individual Workspaces:
- Departments should plan based on their team’s needs, looking to continue work-at-home options, staggering shifts, identifying opportunities for remote interactions, etc. While we will not reconfigure individual workspaces, Facilities Services is available to consult with departments on the questions they have about how to reduce risks for personnel who work on site.
- Office hours will be in-person only if appropriate physical distancing can be maintained.
In general, we will limit campus traffic while prioritizing health and the student experience. We will continue to encourage those who can work from home to do so, while ensuring students and others who are on campus have the support they need.
- Meetings and Gatherings: In-person meetings and gatherings will be limited, particularly during the quiet period from move-in through September 16. According to current state guidance, in-person meetings and gatherings (other than classes) are limited to 10 or fewer individuals indoors, and fewer than 25 outside. Such gatherings must adhere to the six foot physical distancing expectation. Wherever possible, meetings and gatherings should be held remotely. Food at meetings is highly discouraged, and we are discouraging staff and faculty from using campus dining.
- Outside Rental of Space: No outside events or rentals will be allowed until further notice.
- Travel: The college strongly discourages travel during the fall semester. We understand that emergencies will arise. The college asks community members to carefully consider the potential impact of personal travel, especially when it expands your circle of close contacts (those with whom you are within six feet of for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24 hour period), on individual and community health.
Any member of the Macalester community who travels–be that in the metro area or outside the Twin Cities–during Module 2 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.
In addition, states or local governments are increasingly implementing travel restrictions that should be followed. These restrictions include stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders, mandated quarantine up on arrival, or even state border closures. For up-to-date information and travel guidance, check the website for state or local health departments where you are, along your route, and at your planned destination.
For more details about work-related and Macalester-sponsored travel, see the Travel Policy.
Updated: October 29, 2020