Looking Ahead to Spring Semester

Gustavus President Rebecca M. Bergman sent this message to students, faculty, and staff on January 26, 2021.
Posted on January 27th, 2021 by

We’re halfway there, Gusties! I am excited to have our campus full of students next week as we continue this extraordinary academic year with the start of spring semester. Just as we did in the fall, I look forward to our community pulling together to navigate the challenges of COVID-19. Please carefully read this message and the information below for important updates about life on campus this spring.

First, I want to start by thanking those who were here over January Term. You did a tremendous job of keeping our COVID-19 case numbers low. Throughout the month, we only had nine positive cases so far, which is fewer than we had in September when there were a similar number of students living on campus. Let’s keep up the good work moving forward!

To those of you who are returning to campus this weekend after being away for the past few months and those January Term students who are traveling home during Touring Break, please limit your contact with those outside of your household until you return. In addition, we encourage all students who are returning to Gustavus for spring semester to get tested before you come to campus, including those who are leaving for Touring Break and plan to return this weekend. We need your help to start the semester strong, and we believe that getting tested before you return will give us the best possible chance to stop the spread of COVID-19. Please see below for more information about testing.

To those of you who will be learning from home this semester, please know that the Gustavus community is here to support you. Reach out. Take advantage of the resources available to you including the Dean of Students Office, Health Service, Counseling Center, Academic Support Center, Gustavus Technology Services, and more. We are here to help!

Gusties, I know that COVID fatigue is real. Soon it will be a full year since we started practicing social distancing and other public health behaviors that have become almost second nature. We cannot let down our guard. With new, more contagious variants of the virus now active in the United States, we must be more diligent than ever in keeping six feet away from others, wearing our facial coverings, and washing our hands. Remember that this virus does not discriminate. It does not care if we practice these behaviors most of the time. We must take precautions every day—all of the time—to help stop the spread of COVID-19 on our campus and in our communities.

At the beginning of the academic year, there were many questions about whether colleges and universities could provide a safe environment for on-campus living and learning. Here at Gustavus, I am proud of the way that we managed the challenges of COVID-19. This fall, we leaned on each other. We followed public health guidelines. We reported symptoms, respected contact tracing, and supported isolation and quarantine with a robust team that provided our signature high level of care and support. Let’s do it again this spring.

Remember, Gusties ROAR!

Yours in community,

President Bergman


“Lay Low” to Start Spring Semester
From January 31 through February 14, Gustavus will operate under campus “Lay Low” guidelines. During this time, all classes will be delivered virtually unless they have special permission, study rooms in academic buildings are limited to one person, in-person meetings and group activities should be moved to a virtual setting, and visitors are not allowed in residence hall rooms. Please see this page for a reminder of other “Lay Low” guidelines.Some activities such as laboratory courses, fine arts rehearsals, and athletic practices and competitions will continue throughout the “Lay Low” period and beyond. These activities have gone through a special approval process managed by the College’s COVID-19 Leadership Response Team and the Provost Office and are under strict operating guidelines dictated by College policy, public health guidance, and requirements from relevant external bodies such as the NCAA and Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC).

Testing Expectations
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) recommends that “anyone who is returning to a classroom or campus” get tested for COVID-19. As such, the Gustavus COVID-19 Leadership Team is strongly encouraging all students who were not on campus for January Term to get a COVID-19 test later this week before returning to campus. Getting a COVID-19 test with results before you return to campus will help protect the Gustavus community. Minnesota residents can explore free testing options at this Minnesota Department of Health webpage. Students residing in other states are encouraged to research and take advantage of testing opportunities in their local communities.

For students who cannot get a test before returning to campus, the College has a limited number of tests that will be available on a sign-up basis on Tuesday, February 2.

Additional plans for mass testing and possible surveillance testing for the spring semester are being explored in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Health, Nicollet County Public Health, and testing providers. More information will be communicated when it becomes available.

Spring Semester Academic Calendar
In response to the continuing pandemic, a number of changes have been made to the spring semester calendar at Gustavus. The usual weeklong Spring Break has been replaced by two shorter breaks, the “First Quarter Break” from March 6-9 and Easter Recess from April 2-4. There will be no formal Spring Break. Students are encouraged to remain on campus and limit travel during these short breaks in accordance with the College’s travel policy.

Spring semester will also end earlier this year, with final exams being held May 8-11 and the official end to spring semester scheduled for May 11. The full academic calendar is available online.

Vaccine Rollout
Gustavus has been approved as a dispensation point for vaccines by the Minnesota Department of Health. Once the vaccine is more widely available, we hope to be able to distribute vaccines to Gustavus students, faculty, and staff through a series of on-campus events. Subject to change at any time, this plan is dependent on vaccine availability and guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health and will take place as part of the State of Minnesota’s wider vaccine distribution plan. More information will be communicated throughout the semester.

COVID-19 Communication This Spring
Beginning the week of February 1, the COVID-19 Weekly Update emails will now be sent twice each week, on Tuesdays and Fridays. These messages include a brief COVID-19 tip along with updated campus case numbers. These communications will also be posted on the Gustavus COVID-19 website for easy reference.

COVID-19 Reminders
Every day, students, faculty, and staff should complete the COVID-19 self-screening. If there are symptoms that cannot be explained by another medical condition or if you have had a known COVID-19 exposure, students and employees should stay home and report using the online COVID Reporting Form. From there, you will be contacted by a case manager who will talk about your circumstances and help you navigate the testing and isolation/quarantine process if necessary.

Members of the community are reminded to check the Gustavus COVID-19 website regularly for case numbers, public health guidelines, and campus operating procedures. If you have questions that are not addressed on the website, please email g-covidresponse@gustavus.edu.

 

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