Community Update — December 18, 2020

Dear St. Catherine Community,

As finals finish and winter break begins, we want to take a moment to acknowledge the care and commitment you have shown to each other throughout the past months. We are grateful to each of you for what you have done to help keep our community safe and healthy. For many, it has meant working or learning remotely, and we recognize that isn’t always easy. For those who did come to campus, it meant following very specific health and safety protocols to mitigate spread of the virus. Please know that, in either case, your efforts made a difference.

With the arrival of the first shipment of vaccine doses in Minnesota earlier this week, we go into the new year hopeful that relief is on the horizon. However, we recognize that the vaccine is not widely available and case rates are still high throughout the state. With that in mind, we wanted to be sure you had the following information before J-term begins.


Community Commitment

We all share a responsibility for keeping our community healthy and safe. Whether you’re on campus or away, we ask that you remain committed to each other and continue to follow health guidelines, including:

  • Wearing a mask
  • Maintaining social distance
  • Limiting contacts 
  • Washing your hands
  • Staying home when sick

For those coming to campus in January, we ask that you be especially careful as you prepare to return. 


Class Formats for J-Term and Spring Semester

As noted in last week’s Community Update, we have made some adjustments to course formats for J-term and the spring semester to provide you with as much opportunity to plan as we can during this continued time of uncertainty.


Spring Preparedness Plan

The Safely Returning to Campus (SRC) committee has done a comprehensive review of the Preparedness Plan based on current guidance and our plans for J-term and spring. A spring version is now available on the website and, as we did throughout the fall, we will continue to review and revise it as needed over the coming months.


Testing After Break

As we move into 2021, the guidelines for COVID-19 testing prioritize those who are symptomatic or have been identified as a close contact, with some recommendations for limited surveillance testing. The free saliva testing offered before and after Thanksgiving break is no longer available. 

During January, the Health and Wellness Clinic will offer COVID-19 testing to students, faculty, and staff who:

  • have COVID-19 symptoms 

  • are asymptomatic but have been identified as a close contact

If you are experiencing symptoms or are a close contact, call the Health and Wellness Clinic at 651-690-6714 to schedule an appointment for COVID testing.

In addition, as part of our mitigation efforts, the University will be providing testing to the following groups as they return from winter break. Additional details will be provided via email.

  • Tier One Faculty and Students

    • Testing will be required for all Tier One faculty and students returning for J-term. On-campus appointments will be available on January 7 and 11. 

    • We are also encouraging, though not requiring, additional testing the weeks of January 18 and 25.

  • Resident Students

    • Students living on campus during January are encouraged to be tested five to seven (5-7) days after their return to the residence halls.


Butler Center Reopening

The Butler Center will reopen to student-athletes and resident students beginning Wednesday, January 6. We will continue to follow all guidelines issued by MDH for athletic facilities, including the latest changes to Minnesota’s Stay Safe Plan: operating at 25% capacity, maintaining at least 12 feet between people and machines, and requiring masks at all times. As in the fall, we will continue to monitor data and guidance to determine when to move forward with the next phase of our reopening plan. 


Vaccine Availability

While we are looking forward to the point where the COVID-19 vaccine becomes widely available, we do not yet know when that will be. We will continue to keep you updated as we learn more.


We hope the coming weeks provide you opportunities to relax, reflect, and recharge. We are not planning any COVID-related communications during the break. That said, if the situation were to change in a way that would impact campus operations, we will provide updates via email.

Thank you for your continued partnership.



Safely Returning to Campus Committee Co-Chairs
Amy Kelly, MD, MPH, Director, Health and Wellness Clinic
Ann Garvey, Interim Assistant Provost for Student Affairs
Pat Pratt-Cook, Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Equity and Inclusion
Lynda Szymanski, PhD, Associate Provost