SaintsRiseUp Safe Return | Campus Reopening Updates

Safe Return Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some Frequently Asked Questions about details and logistics of our Safe Return plan. We expect these to change as circumstances and plans evolve, so please check back for updates.

These FAQs address issues and actions related to:

  • Masks and Face Coverings
  • COVID-19 Testing, Screening and Surveillance
  • Facilities Considerations
  • Health Promotion and Risk Prevention
  • Teaching and Learning

If you have questions or concerns, please contact College Communications at collegecomm@css.edu. Our thanks to Syracuse University, whose FAQs served as a model for this document.

Q: What is the College’s policy on face coverings? Will everybody have to wear a mask at all times?

A: The College requires face coverings (masks, shields, etc.) for all students, faculty, staff and visitors while on campus in Duluth and St. Cloud. This includes in the presence of others, and in public settings where physical distancing measures are difficult to maintain such as when entering or exiting campus, lounges, hallways, restrooms, etc.

In addition, where workstations do not permit at least six feet between employees, employees must wear face coverings at all times. The use of face coverings is encouraged within office suites even if physical distancing measures can be practiced.

In some instances, there are legitimate medical reasons that an individual cannot wear a mask for an extended period. There also may be a limited number of unique situations where wearing a mask during certain activities is not possible, appropriate or even hazardous to those with certain pre-existing conditions. Efforts are underway to develop appropriate accommodations in such instances.

Employees may bring their own face coverings to work. If employees need cloth masks, the Safety and Security Manager has some available. St. Scholastica will provide all Duluth and St. Cloud on-ground students, faculty and staff with one CSS mask and one CSS buff/gaiter in their Saints Kits. Some courses may require face shields or other personal protective equipment. Additional masks can be purchased through the Saints Shop.

Our embedded sites at Central Lakes, Inver Hills, Itasca and Riverland community colleges will follow safety protocols set for by the Minnesota State system.


Q: Will the College provide masks to all members of the campus community?

A: Yes. We will provide all faculty, staff and on-ground students a Saints Kit with a reusable (washable) cloth face covering upon return to campus. These will be provided at no cost, along with a neck gaiter and hand sanitizer. They will be distributed to all faculty and staff regardless of teaching modality or location and all on-ground students regardless of location.


Q: What is the Security response to COVID-19 emergencies?

A: In response to emergencies, security officers will arrive in full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Security’s response will vary depending on the location and type of emergency they are responding to. If the situation warrants, security will have access to N-95 masks, gloves, disinfectant, and face coverings for those on scene.

Common areas will have a supply of disposable face coverings and disinfectant wipes. Face coverings will also be available in the security office for the general public when needed.


Q: Will visitors to campus be required to wear masks?

A: Yes. Any individual accessing our campus – including visitors and contractors – is required to wear a face covering or mask while in the presence of others and in public settings where physical distancing measures are difficult to maintain. In addition, the College plans to limit campus visitors during the fall semester.


Q: Who is responsible for ensuring students, faculty and staff follow the College’s policy related to wearing masks or face coverings? How will this be enforced?

A: This is a shared responsibility. We must all do our part to protect ourselves and each other. During the COVID-19 health emergency, wearing a mask is not only an action designed to protect you from exposure to the virus, but it is also a visible sign that all members of our campus community are doing their part to safeguard the health and wellness of others.

Faculty, staff, and students are strongly encouraged to promptly report suspected violations of the reopening plan requirements to their supervisor, to their vice president, or to anyone in management one is comfortable approaching. The College also has a confidential, toll free hotline (1-800-477-6064) that can be used to report suspected violations. All reported violations will be researched by either HR or the Pandemic Coordinator and actions will be taken if it is determined a plan requirement was violated.

Students who are identified to have acted with flagrant disregard for their health and the health of those around them may be referred to the student judicial process for a violation of the Code of Student Conduct.

In some instances, there are legitimate medical reasons that an individual cannot wear a mask for an extended period. There also may be a limited number of unique situations where wearing a mask during certain activities is not possible, appropriate or even hazardous to those with certain pre-existing conditions. Efforts are underway to develop appropriate accommodations in such instances, which may include the use of face shields instead of masks, or other alternative means.

Q: Will all students be tested for COVID-19 upon return to campus? How will those tests be performed?

A: Student Health Service Clinic Manager Christine Sandal and her team, along with Safety and Security Manager Mike Turner, have determined a testing protocol. The College is partnering with the Minnesota Department of Health, the University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic, and Essentia Health to coordinate our testing and tracing efforts. SHS will coordinate testing for those exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. A testing protocol has been established with the U of M and Mayo testing partnership.

The College will partner with the MDH on contact tracing.

The College anticipates additional testing protocols for specific groups and for specific circumstances that may trigger a need for testing. Specifically, student athlete protocols are under development and are being guided by NCAA and UMAC conference expectations.


Q: How will the College conduct ongoing monitoring for instances of COVID-19?

A: All employees and students will be asked to self-monitor their symptoms on a daily basis.

Prior to entering campus at designated checkpoints currently in place, all employees must complete a temperature check and daily health screen. If the results show that staying at home is advised, employees will not be allowed on campus that day.

Beginning Aug. 10, when more employees return to campus to prepare for the fall semester, the screening process will change and employees will be asked to complete a daily screening using an app- or computer-based self-checker.

Employees are expected to follow the recommendations noted after the screening questions have been answered. The recommendations may include self-quarantine or a visit to your primary health provider. Employees should notify their supervisors if the recommendation is they should not report to work.

If the recommendations are not followed and the violation is reported, disciplinary action may be taken.

Duluth-based students will be required to screen daily with honesty and forthrightness for symptoms of coronavirus by CSS email or on their phone through the MyHealth portal. Students are asked to complete the CSS COVID Report if they need isolation or quarantine. All CSS students, regardless of campus, are expected to monitor their symptoms daily and report any concerns to their healthcare providers.


Q: What if a student tests positive for COVID-19? What will be the procedure to support that student and safeguard others on campus?

A: Most of our students do not live on campus, so most students who test positive will get their primary care and convalescence off campus. All students who test positive will be asked to complete a short form that gives SHS and the Dean of Students Office a chance to make sure they have the information they need. Students will work directly with their faculty, as in cases of other illness such as flu, to make arrangements to make up missed work. If the student's illness is very serious and requires hospitalization, the Dean of Students will help manage the communication with faculty.

If a student who lives on campus tests positive, the College will deploy its response protocol, which prioritizes the health of the student as well as the safety and well-being of the community. The student can opt to return home or will be immediately moved to isolation housing that has been set up on campus. These rooms will be physically separated from other residential student rooms, have a private bathroom, and be stocked with a thermometer, sanitizing wipes, tissues, soap, hand sanitizer and toiletries. Students with COVID-19 may discontinue isolation under the following conditions:

  • At least three days (72 hours) have passed since recovery defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); AND, at least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
  • While isolated, the student will be assigned a case manager to support all academic, health, housing and dining needs. Residential Life, Food Services, and Student Health Service will work together closely to support these students. The MDH will work with the SHS to facilitate the contract tracing of potential exposed CSS community members.
  • For students who are ill or asymptomatically positive, to the degree reasonably feasible, these isolated students will be encouraged to continue academic activities remotely or will work with their faculty to make arrangements for making up missed work.

Q: Will students and employees be screened before entering campus buildings each day?

A: All students and employees and students are asked to self-monitor their symptoms on a daily basis. Duluth-based students will be required to screen daily with honesty and forthrightness for symptoms of coronavirus by CSS email or on their phone through the MyHealth portal. Students are asked to complete the CSS COVID Report if they need isolation or quarantine. All CSS students, regardless of campus, are expected to monitor their symptoms daily and report any concerns to their healthcare providers. Employees will self-monitor using a checklist and inform their supervisor if they are not feeling well, and check in with their primary medical provider.


Q: How will St. Scholastica address the need for contact tracing, assuming that there will be positive COVID-19 cases during the fall semester?

A: Student Health Service (SHS) will be notified by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH)/St. Louis County Department of Health of students testing positive for COVID-19. The MDH is responsible for all contact tracing, and will work closely with SHS.


Q: What if a student is exposed to someone who has COVID-19? Will they have to be quarantined?

A: Employees and students will not be allowed on campus if they have been in direct contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19. Direct contact is defined as being with the person infected and at a distance of 6 feet or less for 15 minutes or longer.

Employees should notify their supervisors, self-isolate and self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days. Students should notify their professors and the Dean of Students, and remain in one of the College’s quarantine rooms, or self-quarantining at home, while self-monitoring for symptoms for 14 days.

Q: How is St. Scholastica going to ensure that physical distancing is possible in classrooms?

A: The College determined guidelines and updated protocols in accordance with health and government officials. Space reconfigurations, signage, directional limitations, hybrid course delivery options and other considerations to maintain and ensure physical distancing are being implemented throughout campus. This includes evaluating classroom spaces, determining projected class sizes and — based on that data — creating a framework for how classes are assigned to spaces. In all likelihood, large lecture classes will institute a rotated attendance policy to enable physical distancing or leverage technology to decouple learning from any particular space. Smaller classes will be offered in larger rooms, and we are currently assessing the inventory of larger spaces that can be used for fall instruction.


Q: What is the right calculation for how many people can be in one room/place? What is the standard for classrooms?

A: For conference rooms, gathering spaces and classrooms, capacity will depend on the size of the room while following 6-foot physical distancing guidelines. Virtual meetings are encouraged.


Q: How will the College make changes to facilities and common spaces to enable public health practices and behaviors that reduce the risk of virus transmission?

A: We are undertaking multi-faceted efforts to configure facilities and spaces – to the maximum extent practical – to reduce the risk associated with virus transmission. This work is happening right now. Examples of these changes include, but are not limited to:

  • deploying new signage in all buildings to promote physical distancing;
  • moving and re-setting some furniture to ensure for proper physical distancing
  • placing appropriate wayfinding signage at building entrances to limit flow through constrained spaces;
  • configuring work and public spaces to allow for least 6 feet between individuals;
  • assessing the need for barriers in workspaces where people must face each other or are unable to be 6 feet apart;
  • removing chairs and desks to ensure proper physical distancing in conference and waiting rooms.
  • Adding more outdoor furniture to our campuses to support studying and connecting outside.

In addition, in the fall we plan to limit access to academic and student-focused facilities for outside visitors and ask building coordinators to develop a plan to coordinate arrival and departure times of faculty and staff to reduce congestion. Finally, we will also limit in-person meetings to not exceed 50 percent of a room’s capacity, assuming individuals can still maintain 6 feet of physical distancing.


Q: Will the College be providing signage for spaces?

A: The College’s Marketing Department is creating graphics promoting safe and healthy behaviors for campus, reminding people to physically distance and wear face coverings, and designating campus spaces appropriately. Health and safety signage will be placed around campus buildings, and will be available in the Copy Center for departments that need them.


Q: What rules/regulations will campus guests need to follow?

A: Virtual meetings are preferred, but CSS will selectively allow visitors on campus. Where business-critical, in-person visits must occur on campus, such as to allow equipment or facilities to remain operational, adherence to this plan is required.

Vice Presidents who oversee the functions will approve the visitors on campus and complete the Campus Access Request Form for their visitors in advance of their visit.

All visitors will be asked a series of health screening questions at the designated entrance checkpoints before entering campus. The campus forbids visits from persons who have had known exposure to persons with COVID-19 within the past 14 days, or who are exhibiting symptoms of illness consistent with COVID-19.

College-sponsored guests will be asked to wear a face covering while on campus. If they do not have a face covering, one can be provided for them. They will be asked to maintain physical distancing.


Q: Will safety entrance points be at all buildings? If so, who designates the specific location?

A: There will likely be safety points spread through campus common areas and entries. There will not be staffed temperature checkpoints.

  • These points will have disposable face coverings, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant.
  • These areas will not be staffed.
  • These areas will have signage, and contact information for campus security in the event that further assistance is needed.
  • These locations will be selected by VPs / Facilities Managers, and Department heads familiar with each area.
  • Facilities services monitor these areas and will provide the stock for these safety points.

Q: Does the College have plans for enhanced cleaning and sanitation of common areas, residence halls and other high-traffic spaces?

A: Yes. Since the earliest days of the COVID-19 health emergency, the College has implemented a robust cleaning and sanitation process. This includes enhanced cleaning and sanitation of classrooms, laboratories, performance venues, libraries, residence halls, dining halls, recreation spaces, gathering spaces and other high-traffic areas. The College will utilize disinfectants that have been identified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as appropriate to eliminate the SARS-CoV-2 virus (cause of COVID-19).

Routine cleaning and disinfecting practices are being enhanced for work surfaces, equipment, tools, and machinery, and other areas in the work environment. Frequent cleaning and disinfecting will be conducted in areas with highly touched surfaces such as door knobs and handles, classroom furniture, handrails, light switches, vending machines, elevators, and water fountains.

Facilities management will also clean public spaces such as building lobbies and restrooms at least once daily, and more frequently if deemed necessary.

Departments will be provided with sanitizing products for shared-use equipment so that they have the ability to disinfect areas after each use.
All custodial staff and their supervisors have been provided refresher training on proper cleaning techniques, as well as background information on COVID-19. If there is a confirmed positive case reported to CSS, the facilities department will coordinate cleaning and disinfecting of that employee's work space and other places they have touched or used.

Employees are highly encouraged to clean personal work spaces on a daily basis.


Q: What is the common understanding for what size office may be used for meeting with students?

A: The office size doesn’t matter as long as a 6-foot distance can be maintained between people.


Q: What are the guidelines for waiting rooms/spaces?

A: Physical distancing protocols of 6 feet between each person must be followed in waiting rooms. This might necessitate the relocation/removal of furniture, etc.


Q: If I believe that a classroom or office requires modifications to ensure physical distancing, what is the process to make a request for evaluation?

A: Contact Facilities at (218) 723-6106. Specific requests will be evaluated based on several criteria related to campus reopening plans and best available health guidance.

Q: How will the College encourage healthy behaviors among members of our campus community?

A: As students, faculty and staff return to campus, they will notice robust new signage promoting physical distancing and other public health measures. New signage aimed at promoting and protecting the health of our community will be placed throughout campus buildings in high-traffic areas.

Students, faculty and staff are being advised to prepare for the semester in these ways:  

  • Follow our safety protocols now to support a safe return to campus.
    • Practice wearing face coverings. Face coverings/masks are required on campus and, while the College will provide free options for you upon your arrival,  please make sure you secure comfortable options to wear. (No need to wait until school starts to use them. Wearing them now helps slow the virus spread to ensure a safer return.)
    • Practice physical distancing. Practice wearing masks and staying six feet apart as you socialize. It can be easy to step closer when talking, so be mindful of this and practice how to connect with people while staying six feet apart.
    • Monitor closely and report any symptoms, such as a fever or cough, to a health care provider. If you do have symptoms, get a COVID test and wait for the results before you come to campus.
  • Stay connected.
  • Take the CSS Community Pledge. We ask that all CSS community members complete the CSS Community Pledge. This document provides a framework for how our individual actions, guided by the Benedictine values, can assist with keeping our community safe and healthy. 
  • Complete the COVID-related Safety Course. Students, faculty and staff are asked to complete a COVID Safety Course that will be sent out in mid-August. All are asked to accomplish this prior to the beginning of the semester. 

Finally, communications are going out frequently on social media and internal channels to remind students, faculty and staff of the importance of following health and safety guidelines for the betterment of the community.


Q: How will students be informed and educated about steps and behaviors most appropriate to mitigate the likelihood of exposure to the virus?

A: Students will participate in an educational program prior to their return to campus focused on health and wellness issues and actions most appropriate during and beyond the COVID-19 health emergency. Further, as a condition of returning to campus, all students, faculty and staff will be required to affirmatively commit to a Community Pledge that is currently being finalized. The Community Pledge spells out expectations related to behaviors and actions necessary to protect the health of all Saints learning community members.


Q: How is the College planning to enforce physical distancing and health/safety protocols?

A: It’s important for all members of the Saints community to understand that enforcing physical distancing standards and other measures of prevention is everyone’s responsibility. It is a shared expectation that all students, faculty and staff will not only themselves adhere to the directives and policies in place to safeguard public health – but also remind others to do the same when necessary.

As previously mentioned, students (and faculty and staff) will be required to affirmatively commit to a Community Pledge that sets expectations related to behaviors and actions appropriate to protect their health and the health of those around them. Students who are identified to have acted with flagrant or repeated disregard for their health and the health of those around them will be referred to the student judicial process for a violation of the Code of Student Conduct.

Access to SHS will be through phone triage first. There will be no walk-ins allowed. Priority will be to follow up with telehealth appointments as much as possible. When this is not feasible, visits will be an in-depth phone interview initially with remaining in-person visits to be focused and efficient, limiting everyone’s exposure.


Q: Will our staff and faculty need to quarantine after travel (in state, out of state, flights[domestic/international], driving)? Will students be able to go home on the weekends?

A: College-sponsored international and domestic travel is suspended. In some exceptional cases, employees may be given permission to travel for critical purposes; however, they will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days upon return.

We are strongly discouraging travel during the fall semester. Protocols are being developed and will be communicated.


Q: Isn’t it a risk to reopen in person? How does the College justify it?

A: Much has been learned about COVID-19 since March. The College is basing its decision upon the best current information available from scientists, health authorities and our higher education peers. We have reached the conclusion that this is the best step for St. Scholastica from a stewardship perspective. It’s worth noting that when more than 700 colleges were surveyed by the Chronicle of Higher Education, more than two-thirds responded that they would reopen with in-person instruction in the fall. It’s also worth repeating that if COVID-19 circumstances make our current reopening plan unsafe, we will change our plan.

Q: How will St. Scholastica ensure that physical distancing is possible in classrooms?

A: The College determined guidelines and updated protocols in accordance with health and government officials. Space reconfigurations, hybrid course delivery options and other considerations to maintain and ensure physical distancing are being implemented throughout campus. This includes inventorying and evaluating classroom spaces, determining projected class sizes and — based on that data — creating a framework for how classes are assigned to spaces. In all likelihood, large lecture classes will institute a rotated attendance policy to enable physical distancing or leverage technology to decouple learning from any particular space. Smaller classes will be offered in larger rooms, and we are currently assessing the inventory of larger spaces that can be used for fall instruction. The Facilities Team is working closely with the Registrar’s Office on proper class size to ensure physical distancing measures will be followed.


Q: What about labs and other hands-on or experiential learning programs? Will they be canceled altogether?

A: No. We are assessing the needs and requirements of all departments and programs to determine how to best facilitate labs, art and music studios and other hands-on or experiential learning programs. In some cases, it may simply mean finding much larger spaces to conduct these types of experiential courses. In other cases, it means we must identify creative ways to safely and meaningfully deliver classes while physically distancing.


Q: I am a faculty member; can I have plexiglass installed in my office to accommodate office hours?

A: While it is true that the College is installing plexiglass barriers in some high-traffic service centers across campus, doing so in faculty offices is not contemplated at this time because, as a rule, faculty should be discouraged from meeting with students in confined spaces.

Instead, faculty should consider leveraging a technology solution such as Zoom. Plexiglass is being installed for high-traffic student-facing service areas. If you have a special request for a plexiglass barrier, contact Facilities at (218) 723-6106.


Q: If I am at increased risk for complications of COVID-19 or live with someone who is at risk, can I opt out of teaching or learning in person this fall?

A: Your health and safety are our top priority. St. Scholastica will not ask you to do anything that will jeopardize your well-being or the well-being of an at-risk family member. Accommodations guidelines are in place; contact Human Resources.


Q: We are returning to in-person instruction, but will all classes and labs be held in-person?

A: We are all working together to deliver for our students – as practical and allowable given health guidance – a residential academic experience for the fall. This means, to the maximum extent possible, classes will meet in-person with physical distancing measures in place. Hybrid and online options will also be leveraged as needed to accomplish our academic goals. Smaller classes will be offered in larger rooms, and we are currently assessing the inventory of larger spaces that can be used for fall instruction.


Q: If a student would prefer to take classes online and stay home, are they required to come to campus?

A: If a student prefers not to return to campus in the fall, for whatever reason, they have the option to continue academic progress toward a degree via an online semester. Faculty are working to create online course offerings that mirror those classes that will be offered in a residential format during the fall semester. For that reason, if returning to campus in the fall is not a viable option for some of our students, the opportunity to participate remotely will be possible.

However, if a student opts for an online semester and to remain in a location other than Duluth, MN, for public health reasons, their access to campus will be limited (given that those individuals would not be part of the ongoing testing and monitoring procedures in place for the residential student population).

Certain courses will require in-person experiences to fulfill learning outcomes. Students will be able to drop and add courses to meet their individual situations.


Q: What is the College doing to provide mental and emotional support during this stressful time for students, faculty and staff?

A: Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to take advantage of the College’s mental health support resources if feeling anxious or stressed. Students can access information about services available by visiting College of St. Scholastica Counseling Services. Employees of the College can access mental health benefits available through the Employee Assistance Plan.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, Counseling Services is using Telemental Health to provide mental health counseling services to students. Students can call 218-723-6085 to schedule a session with a Mental Health Therapist. There also may be times when a life crisis seems overwhelming and a person becomes seriously upset. Anyone in need of crisis services can utilize the following after hours crisis resources found on the CSS Counseling Services web page at Student Mental Health Crisis Resources. The following includes a list of crisis resources:

  • Birch Tree Center - 24-hour regional crisis center for support: 218-623-1800
  • Crisis Text Line - Text MN to 741741.
    • If you are a person of color, please know you can access an additional resource: text STEVE to 741741 to meet with a trained counselor.
  • National Suicide Prevention Crisis Line - 1-800-273-8255
  • Veterans Crisis Line - 1-800-273-8255 press 1, or text 838255
  • Call 911 in all locations in cases of emergency
  • The Trevor Project: crisis support for LGBTQ students. Call 1-866-488-7386 or text "START" to 678-678

Additionally, CSS Counseling Services will continue to offer campus mental health training programs including the QPR Suicide Prevention Program, Mental Health First Aid Training, and other mental health presentations in academic classes. For more information about mental health training opportunities available for students and employees of the College, contact Sarah Wells, LICSW at swells1@css.edu.


Q: Is Security the right department to contact if we need to report violations or to access assistance in removing violators of the safety policy?

A: It is everyone’s responsibility to take care of the community as a collective effort. If you witness someone who appears to be acting in a negligent manner with no regard for the community’s standards for health and safety, feel free to approach them in a helpful manner to remind them of campus expectations for behavior. If that action doesn’t resolve the situation satisfactorily, you may contact their supervisor, their vice president, Campus Security, or anyone else you feel comfortable approaching.

Q: When it is stated that employees should work from home "unless it is necessary to be at campus", what exactly do we mean by "necessary"? Or is "necessary" to be interpreted at the discretion of the individual employee?

A: Please consult with your supervisor, department head or vice president on this question. Your health and safety are our top priority. St. Scholastica will not ask you to do anything that will jeopardize your well-being or the well-being of an at-risk family member.

For full details, please see our Employee Reopening Plan.

Alert Level

Current status:

Level 1: Low

Learn more about the College's Alert Levels.

Recent Updates

The most recent updates to our Safe Return plan can be found on our News Center or under the “updates” section of css.edu/coronavirus.