Important update to quarantine and isolation procedures for students

Sept. 18, 2020

Dear students,

As we near the end of the fourth week of classes, we want to share an important update to the way in which we will handle student isolation and quarantine moving forward.

Effective Saturday, Sept. 19, if it is determined that you need to be isolated (due to symptoms or a positive test result) or quarantined (because you are a close contact of someone with a confirmed positive test for COVID-19), and you live within 150 miles of campus, you must return home for periods of quarantine or isolation. Exceptions to this expectation will be few; students seeking an exemption need to complete the Quarantine/Isolation Exemption Request Form. Students who live farther than 150 miles from campus may also return home for quarantine or isolation, but are not required to complete the exemption form should they need to remain in one of our campus-run spaces. Students who are currently in isolation or quarantine at the Tundra Lodge or Kress Inn, live within 150 miles of the college, and have seven or more days remaining for their period of isolation/quarantine should move home.

This is not a substantive change. Our COVID-19 Case Response Plan has always indicated that students are expected to quarantine off campus and to return home to isolate if it is safe to do so.

Rationale for the change
In the last four weeks, we’ve experienced a disproportionate number of students opting to quarantine or isolate in campus-run facilities. There are a couple reasons why it is problematic for students to remain on campus, or in our secondary quarantine/isolation setting when they have other viable options:

  1. Student well-being: We’ve observed that once a student begins their isolation in a campus-run facility, they often soon opt to return home to prioritize their own comfort and well-being. Since close contacts must quarantine for 14 days with few, if any, opportunities to leave their hotel room, we are hearing from students and their families that there are concerns for physical, emotional and mental health. We understand this. In most cases, it would be far better for the student to return home and observe the greater latitude of home-based quarantine. Students requiring isolation (symptoms or a positive test) are likewise indicating that home is preferred where possible because one feels more comfortable there.

  2. Space limitations: Students electing to quarantine or isolate on campus when it is viable for them to return home are straining our capacity. Each time a student elects to remain here when they could go home, they jeopardize our ability to continue living and learning on campus. Our students are telling us how badly they want to remain here; they prefer learning through in-person or hybrid courses and they are of course enjoying being with their peers and on our beautiful campus. In order to retain this on-campus experience, we need greater student cooperation with quarantine and isolation at home. We understand that it’s more work to go home, but it’s an act of communio to do so when you can – taking some time away from campus so that we can all remain in person until Thanksgiving.

Looking forward
The college understands that people have questions about what would cause us to move to a different phase, such as a return to remote learning. There is no single data point that signals such a necessary change. Rather, as articulated in our case response plan, our ability to remain open for in-person instruction rests on a variety of factors including our ability to deliver essential services, our ability to quarantine and isolate students unable to return home, and our supply of testing supplies and PPE for front-line service providers. Further, we remain in regular contact, minimally weekly, with public health officials from the city, county or state levels, and their perspectives are carefully considered as we make decisions.

All students should complete the release of information for COVID-19 now, if they haven’t already done so. This makes processing much quicker and easier for you should you end up needing quarantine or isolation. The purpose is to allow us to coordinate your care with relevant college offices. To do this:

  • Visit St. Norbert College Health Services patient portal, Medicat.
  • Log in using your SNC username and password.
  • Click the forms button at the bottom of the page.
  • Complete the form called COVID ROI/Authorization for Disclosure.
    This form has been prepopulated with responses related only to disclosure of COVID-19 information.

Please continue to take these necessary steps to stay as healthy as possible:

  • Wear your mask – SNC’s mask requirement (indoors and outside on campus, except for private work or living spaces) remains in place regardless of possible changes to state law.
  • Watch your distance
  • Wash your hands and clean surfaces
To avoid the need to quarantine as a close contact of a positive case of COVID-19, you should keep your circle small and limit the people with whom you spend more than 15 minutes in close proximity (within 6 feet). Our reports from both residential life and campus safety indicate that incidences of partying are down, and we applaud the numerous students making great choices. But we are equally aware of students making other choices. Nobody wants to be quarantined! Please be smart about avoiding bars, parties and other social gatherings that increase your risk of being identified as a close contact.

Let’s do this, SNC!