Minnesota Governor Tim Walz announced a plan to end COVID-19 restrictions by July 1, 2021. Almost all COVID-19 restrictions will be loosened by the State on May 28 with the mask mandate being lifted on July 1 or if 70% of the Minnesota population is vaccinated, whichever comes first. Following the Governor’s announcement, the College moved into the green alert level. In an email to the student body, Campus Reopening Lead and Vice President for Advancement, Enoch Blazis, announced that due to low cases of COVID-19 on campus and the percentage of students vaccinated, campus will move to the green alert level for the first time this semester.
The green alert level permits inter-campus travel, social gatherings limited to 50 people indoors, as well as travel within Northfield. The Community Standards are still in place and randomized COVID-19 surveillance testing will occur through the end of the school year. Vaccinated individuals will not be apart of the random COVID-19 surveillance testing.
The state’s lifting of COVID-19 restrictions will allow guests to be present at this year’s commencement ceremony. Prior to the announcement, no guests were permitted; now, the Class of 2021 will be allowed an unlimited number of guests providing the ceremony takes place outdoors. If moved to the rain location of Tostrud Center, graduates will be allowed a maximum of three guests each. All those in attendance will be required by the College to wear masks.
As of May 7, 69% of faculty and staff and 68% of students have reported that they are either fully vaccinated or in the process of receiving the vaccine. The College is currently completing the second dose of its campus wide vaccine clinic.
Blazis urged everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible and for students to report their vaccination status online through a reporting form or the student health portal.
Students who are fully vaccinated — that is, two weeks have passed since their final dose — do not need to quarantine after exposure to someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Nor will they be selected for weekly randomized testing. However, fully vaccinated students are still asked to follow the Community Standards and wear masks in public spaces.
“An increasing number of summer jobs, internships, and programs require staff and participants to be vaccinated. Getting the vaccine now is a good way to be prepared for your post-college experience. For returning students, getting vaccinated will also help ensure a smoother, more robust return to campus in the fall,” Blazis wrote in an email to St Olaf students and faculty.
As of May 11, the College has no new COVID-19 cases while the Northfield area is seeing a decrease in the Rice County infection rate.