PLT Insights: Your COVID questions, answered by Enoch Blazis
To get insights for the student body, BORSC member Claire Shaw ’21 regularly meets with Campus Reopening Lead, Vice President for Advancement and PLT member Enoch Blazis. In particular, he is responsible for the college’s COVID-19 response. PLT is the Presidential Leadership Team of St. Olaf College, learn more here. Submit your own questions here.
Topics include: Testing, housing, case numbers
Student Question #1:
Hey! Just wanted to mention some frustrations I have been having with the COVID-19 procedures happening on campus. With the rising cases, I think that students should be able to have access to more testing opportunities. I also think that a lot of students are worried about their safety on campus and that they should be given the option to go home. I think the college is being irresponsible for not moving people into a new alert level and that they aren’t being fully transparent on their testing methods. I think that the COVID-19 Dashboard is confusing and hard to understand since the school keeps changing how they’re going to test and contract trace students. I believe that there is a great lack of a acknowledgment and transparency. Thanks.
All students will be tested prior to leaving campus with results sent to their email addresses. If students would prefer to be tested off campus, they can request a free PCR COVID-19 test to be sent to their home address if they live in MN. If a student returns home to an address other than MN, they would have to check with their state department of health for testing programs available there. Please be on the lookout for an email from the Campus Reopening Team with more information regarding the PCR saliva tests.
Students do have the option to move home if they would like to. That is something that can be coordinated with their Class Dean.
The decision to change the randomized testing to include targeted testing was a result of moving into the Yellow Zone.
Student Question #2:
Hi Board of Regents,
I just want to start by thanking you all for the tireless work you have put in to make this semester possible. I know that this is a completely unfamiliar time for all of us and no one knows the right thing to do. That being said, I think one right thing to do would be to honor your students. Myself included, we feel as though the way COVID has progressed on campus is disturbing and unsettling. Last school year, the cases is the United States were much lower and almost no schools were open. Now, cases have reached a record high, especially in Minnesota, and schools remain open leaving us feeling worried about our impending departure from campus, possibly exposing vulnerable family members to this horrible virus. I would love to see St. Olaf take charge of this issue by allowing students to either get tested more regularly, or by giving us the option to finish the semester from home. I know these are hard decisions to make and there are several moving pieces to consider, but please consider how students are feeling right now as we are trying to protect our families and communities back home, and on campus.
Students do have the option to move home if they would like to. That is something that can be coordinated with their Class Dean. If students would prefer to be tested off campus, students can request a free PCR COVID-19 test to be sent to their home address if they live in MN. If a student returns home to an address other than MN, they would have to check with their state department of health for testing programs available there. Please be on the lookout for an email from the Campus Reopening Team with more information regarding the PCR saliva tests.
Quick clarification: As the Board of Regents only meets once per term, we often direct your question to the Presidential Leadership team which handles many of the immediate isses.
Student question #3:
How bad exactly will the covid situation in Minnesota have to be for students not to return to campus Spring Semester?
How early will the college notify students of a decision like this.
At this time, the college does not have a specific numerical benchmark that would automatically result in a remote Spring semester. The only decision that would cause St. Olaf College to definitively move online would be a stay-at-home/quarantine in place order from Governor Walz. Otherwise, the college will continue to monitor the situation, similar to summer, and update students, faculty, and staff as they know more information.