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College begins conducting randomized weekly COVID-19 tests following two rounds of baseline testing

A thermometer provided by the College is held in front of Boe Chapel. Jorie Van Nest/The Olaf Messenger

St. Olaf began conducting randomized weekly COVID-19 testing on students, faculty and staff studying or working on campus Sept. 8, which marked the third stage of the College’s testing and monitoring plans. 

The College has also begun updating its coronavirus dashboard daily with campus data on restricted students, isolation beds, percent of students infected, total tests and confirmed positive tests. 

As of Sept. 13, there is one individual in isolation and there are seven in quarantine on campus, with four in quarantine off campus. Less than one percent, 0.11, of students have been infected in the last two weeks, also as of Sept. 13. 

St. Olaf remains in the green alert level based on these numbers and other factors, including total Rice county cases and availability of isolation and quarantine beds. 

93 individuals have been moved out of quarantine and 38 have recovered as of Sept. 13. The dashboard defines “recovered” as, “When individuals are released from isolation.” Individuals are placed in isolation when they test positive through the College or self-report a positive test from a source outside the College’s testing, the dashboard clarifies.

The “Total Tests and Confirmed Positives” chart only includes tests conducted through the Mayo Clinic, which St. Olaf has partnered with to conduct its randomized weekly testing and two rounds of baseline testing. 

The randomized testing is the third stage of the College’s testing and monitoring plans. The first two stages comprised the two rounds of baseline testing. Round one was completed Aug. 4–Aug. 19 for faculty and staff and Aug. 4–Aug. 25 for students, and round two was completed Aug. 20–Aug. 31 for faculty and staff and Aug. 26–Aug. 31 for students.

This baseline testing resulted in 16 positive tests from the first round and 22 positive tests from the second round, with positivity rates of 0.4 percent and 0.7 percent respectively.   

St. Olaf has also implemented contact tracing to notify individuals who need to quarantine because of possible exposure to an infected individual, another part of the College’s monitoring efforts.