COVID-19 updates for spring semester

Jan. 14, 2021

Dear students,

Now that we’re well into January, we are looking forward to your return to campus and the start of classes on Monday, Feb. 1! This communication covers essential information and updates related to the college’s COVID-19 response. It’s likely there will be more to share in the coming weeks, so please continue to monitor your email.

This email includes information about:

  • Your responsibility to take measures that allow you to return to campus healthy
  • Entry testing requirement for residential students
  • General COVID-19 protocols and Safer at SNC guidelines
  • Changes to the quarantine duration
  • Modest change to the distance within which students are expected to quarantine at home, unless they qualify for an exemption
  • Changes to quarantine and isolation testing
  • Enhanced surveillance testing
  • Vaccine availability

Returning to campus
We ask all students to adhere to the following strategies as they prepare to return to campus. These strategies are critical to ensuring we can successfully maintain another full semester on campus:

  • Limit your circle starting two weeks prior to your return to campus (beginning Jan. 15 for students returning on Jan. 29). Other than running essential errands or enjoying outdoor activities, it will be best for you to reduce your circle to those with whom you live during these weeks.
  • Actively self-monitor for symptoms in the days leading up to your return and do not return to campus if you have symptoms. Pursue testing in your local community.
  • Contact Health Services at 920-403-3266 with any questions or to report a delay in return due to imposed isolation or quarantine.

Entry testing for residential students

  • Due to the higher risk associated with congregate living, and the potential for high-risk activity among residential students, all students living in college housing will be required to submit evidence of a negative COVID-19 test dated Jan. 19, 2021, or later, or a positive COVID-19 test (with completed isolation period and symptom improvement) dated Nov. 1, 2020, or later.
  • A separate communication will follow next week with the details of how to upload test results through our HIPAA-compliant medical software system, Medicat.
  • Commuter students present a lower risk and are therefore not required to submit test results. However, they are encouraged to do so and should follow the same procedure.
Campus guidelines
  • All general campus safety protocols remain in place including masking, physical distancing, hand washing and enhanced cleaning. Health care and public health professionals continue to emphasize the importance of wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet apart from others, avoiding crowds, ventilating indoor spaces and washing hands frequently. These are our best tools for preventing the spread of this virus, no matter the strain.
  • The semester will begin with the Safer at SNC guidelines in place. Student representatives advised campus leadership that it would be far preferable to students to begin with these restrictions in place and hope to ease them when possible than to begin with standard guidelines in place only to have to revert during the semester. Like our students, we long for things to seem normal on campus, and we hope that day is not far off. A reminder that these guidelines include:
    • Residential students must be in their own residence from midnight until 6 a.m. each day of the week.
    • Between midnight and 6 a.m. each day, you may not have guests in your residence, whether they be other SNC students or guests from off campus.
    • All alcohol fines remain doubled, and the severity of other alcohol sanctions will be proportionately increased.
    • The campus is closed to the general public.

Changes to quarantine

  • The college has taken into account the new guidelines around quarantine for close contacts, guidance offered by the CDC, the state of Wisconsin, Brown County and the City of De Pere health departments. While the CDC has indicated it is possible to leave quarantine after Day 7 with a confirmed negative test, Brown County and the City of De Pere health departments have categorized this strategy as the highest risk option. After analyzing fall student conversion data from those in quarantine to COVID-positive and consulting with the City of De Pere Health Department, we are reducing the length of quarantine from 14 days to 10 days. Students must complete a minimum of 10 days, be asymptomatic and test negative before leaving quarantine. We’ve chosen this “middle road” (10 days and a negative test result) for our students because of their high level of interaction, for instance in congregate settings such as residence halls. If a student does not wish to participate in an exit test, they will need to complete 14 days in quarantine.
  • In light of the reduced amount of time required of students in quarantine, the college has changed the distance within which students are expected to quarantine at home from 150 miles to 125 miles. This modest change is meant to reflect a reasonable driving time for those who do need to return home, and to keep adequate quarantine and isolation space available for students spending this time in college facilities. We remind you that students should quarantine at home when safe and feasible, and the exemption process remains available for those for whom this is not possible.

Testing symptomatic students and close contacts
We will now offer centralized testing at the Kress Inn for students in quarantine and isolation at either Kress Inn or Tundra Lodge.

  • Due to a change in operations and increased test capacity, SNC Health Services will be able to accommodate diagnostic and quarantine exit testing on campus at the Kress Inn for students in either of our quarantine and isolation sites. Last fall, students at Tundra Lodge accessed testing at local community sites.
  • We will provide antigen testing with 15-minute results for those asymptomatic students seeking release from quarantine after successful completion of 10 days of quarantine.
  • Antigen testing will also be an option for symptomatic students entering isolation. Similar to strep tests, if a person is symptomatic and tests positive on a rapid COVID-19 test (antigen), they are considered positive. However, symptomatic students with a negative antigen test would need a PCR test to ensure they are negative, and to be eligible for release back to campus upon symptom improvement. We will continue to provide PCR tests for students in quarantine and isolation.
  • The college is working with a new laboratory with faster turnaround time for PCR test results. This change helps students who present with symptoms to be released sooner if they test negative and symptoms resolve. Test turnaround time was one of the biggest concerns we heard from students who experienced quarantine or isolation on campus, especially in the later part of fall semester.

Enhanced surveillance testing

  • In addition to the PCR testing conducted for athletics, we will begin additional surveillance testing of students. Our strategy for this will remain flexible – in the absence of any concentration in particular circles, such as one residence hall, we will take a random sample of students across campus. However, if we do start to observe a concentration in a particular area, we will shift our surveillance testing to focus on that area.
  • We will utilize PCR tests for this testing. The PCR is the gold-standard test, which means we can have a high level of trust in its results. If we were to use an antigen test for surveillance, we would have to isolate any student who tests positive (and is asymptomatic), re-test with a confirmatory PCR test and wait for that result before being able to release the student should they be negative. We find this potentially unnecessary disruption to the students’ living and learning experience problematic.
  • Students being tested as part of a surveillance strategy do not need to isolate while awaiting results, unless they become symptomatic.
  • Students are exempted from surveillance testing for any of the following reasons. If their name is drawn for general randomized testing, there will be a mechanism through which they can indicate their exemption due to:
    • a confirmed positive COVID-19 test within the timeframe recommended by public health (currently three months)
    • a student athlete who is part of a team currently subject to surveillance testing
    • a student in quarantine or isolation at the time they are drawn

Vaccine distribution

  • Once again, we strongly recommend all students be immunized for influenza. This is to your benefit since influenza symptoms closely mirror COVID-19 symptoms, which could result in the need to isolate while awaiting a negative COVID-19 test. Seek an influenza vaccine in your home community, or reach out to Health Services once you have returned to campus. Health Services has the influenza vaccine in stock. Remember, Health Services is not taking drop-in appointments, so call 920-403-3266 to schedule your visit.
  • The college is an approved COVID-19 vaccination site for members of the SNC community. Prioritization of vaccine recipients is made in accordance with WI DHS guidelines, which are informed by CDC guidelines. In any cases where application of the guidelines for our campus constituents is unclear, the director of Health Services consults with the De Pere Health Department. At this time, vaccines will be optional, not required.
Please continue to check your St. Norbert College email during the break for more campus updates related to COVID-19.

We can’t wait to see you back on campus soon!

Julie Massey
Interim Vice President for Student Affairs