Two-Week “Lay Low” PeriodPresident Bergman sent the email below to students, faculty, and staff on Friday, November 6. A copy was also sent to parents and families.
Posted on November 6th, 2020 by

TO: The Gustavus Community
FROM: President Bergman
SUBJECT: Two-Week “Lay Low” Plan at Gustavus
DATE: November 6, 2020

As many of you know, COVID-19 infections are surging in the United States and the state of Minnesota, and Gustavus is also experiencing an increase in case numbers. According to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), cases statewide among 18-24 year olds have recently increased from approximately 1,000 per week to 3,000 per week. Here at Gustavus, on-campus numbers have more than doubled in the past two weeks. We must act swiftly and decisively to stop the spread in our community.

Effective immediately, the College will enter a two-week “Lay Low” period with increased measures in place to help slow the spread of COVID-19. This two-week period will also assist students who are planning to travel home for Thanksgiving break. These changes are being implemented based on guidance from the MDH to colleges and universities and seek to limit COVID-19 transmission while continuing to prioritize academics.

Based on our case management and contact tracing, the College has no evidence of COVID-19 transmission in classroom or laboratory settings, academic spaces including the Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library, or Dining Service facilities. As such, courses will continue in their current mode of instruction and facilities will remain open during this two-week period.

“Lay Low” Changes, Effective Friday, November 6 through Friday, November 20:

  • Students (on- and off-campus) and employees should stop in-person social activities and move group work and meetings to a virtual format;

  • There will be no visitors allowed in residence halls and no visiting other students’ rooms even if you live in the same building;

  • Athletics and Fine Arts groups will be subject to more stringent guidelines dictating practices/rehearsals and may be required to stop all activities due to COVID-19 cases;

  • Recognized Student Groups and Organizations as well as informal groups will cease all in-person activities and transition to a virtual format;

  • Violators of these and other Gustavus COVID-19 guidelines remain subject to disciplinary action up to and including suspension and expulsion.

In short, members of the Gustavus community should actively limit close contact with others over the next two weeks. In keeping with MDH guidance, students are strongly discouraged from leaving campus for non-essential purposes, traveling, or going home on weekends and returning to campus during the next two weeks. Official activities such as nursing clinicals, student teaching, on- and off-campus student employment, and medical appointments may continue as scheduled.

Following the “Lay Low” period, all academic activities and classes on Monday, November 23 and Tuesday, November 24 will be delivered in a virtual format. Students who are planning to leave campus for the remainder of the semester are encouraged to depart on the weekend of November 21-22. All courses will be delivered in 100-percent virtual format beginning November 23 through the remainder of fall semester, which concludes on December 15.

January Term will begin on January 4, 2021, and the spring semester begins on February 1, 2021 (See academic calendar here). Additional information about January Term and the spring semester will be provided to faculty and students in the next week.

MDH guidance recommends that students who choose to travel home for Thanksgiving not return to campus to further limit the possible spread of COVID-19. That being said, we will continue to allow students to live on campus throughout the remainder of fall semester. I ask that students commit to choosing either to stay on campus or to leave, and not travel back and forth between home and campus. On-campus residents will receive an email from Residential Life with further instructions about how to indicate housing plans.

In partnership with Nicollet County Public Health and the MDH, we are hosting a mass testing event for the Gustavus community on Friday, November 13. More information will be communicated as plans are finalized. Everyone who is learning or working on campus this semester is strongly encouraged to get tested during this event. We hope that this testing event will provide an additional measure of confidence before many of our students travel home.

This week’s MDH update included the following language:

“COVID-19 is spreading in every community at an all-time high. It is not just big events that cause this incredibly high level of community spread. These types of scenarios are also causing the spread: happy hours with a few friends, brunch with family members who live in other households, gatherings in your backyard, weddings and other ceremonies, etc.”

The point is this: we must act decisively right now.

We believe that this “Lay Low” plan for the two weeks prior to Thanksgiving break will accomplish the twin goals of limiting the spread of COVID-19 within the student body and, at the same time, minimizing the risk of our students inadvertently spreading COVID-19 to their home communities.

Gusties, I ask that you commit whole-heartedly to this “Lay Low” plan for the wellbeing of the Gustavus community and the loved ones that you may see over the holiday season. For the next two weeks, imagine that you and those around you may be infectious. Use this thought exercise to reinforce your behavior when it comes to social distancing, wearing a mask, and refraining from in-person social activity.

Yours in community,

President Bergman


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