Jan. 7 Safe Return update
Happy New Year! Welcome to 2022, a year we greet with great hope: for a transformative, meaningful semester, and for the continued health and well-being of our communities. As we begin anew, we also recognize the importance of action and the role that each of us plays in maintaining a campus that is both healthy and vibrant. Over the break we have been closely following the pandemic situation as the Omicron variant has continued to spread widely across the country. We are so thankful that because of our diligent efforts around vaccinations, boosters, masking and testing, we have been able to continue in the safest of possible environments to serve our students. Thank you, we are very grateful for your efforts and commitment to ensuring uninterrupted operations!
As we prepare for our spring semester start, we ask that each of you to continue your great work and look out for one another by adhering to the following mitigation efforts:
- Review the CSS Community Pledge
- Get tested
- As spring semester gets off to a start, we are strongly recommending all faculty, staff and students complete a PCR test prior to arriving back or within the first days of return to campuses
- The MN Department of Health has made this process very easy. You can still go to an in-person site or order a kit to be delivered to your home. These options are free of charge
- Returning students and employees who have traveled internationally over the break will be required to test within 5 days of their return
- Get boosted
- This is one of the best paths toward protecting and maintaining the health of our campus community!
- Boosters are free, effective and readily available. Find yours by visiting vaccines.gov
- Report positive COVID test or symptoms: CSS COVID Report Form
- Try to wear a high-quality mask whenever possible
- High-quality masks include N95 and KN95 masks
- If you cannot get that type of mask, wear a well-fitting mask with at least two layers of tightly-woven fabric. You can also layer a disposable mask under a cloth mask to increase effectiveness
- High-quality masks do not include thinner, loosely woven, or single-layer fabric such as scarves, neck gaiters, or bandannas
We know there are challenges ahead and we’ll need your support in working through them. The Omicron variant is highly contagious, even among those who are fully vaccinated. However, we are also learning that those impacted by this variant are experiencing milder symptoms, particularly among those who are vaccinated. Each day and week that passes, we will continue to understand how this virus is behaving and what we can do to adjust and manage the circumstances. We also remain hopeful as we have started to hear reports that indicate we should be moving in a more positive direction within 6-8 weeks.
As we move through the ever-changing environment, we ask everyone to come together in compassionate action to ensure a safe, uninterrupted spring semester for all. Our greatest protection is in following our Community Pledge guidelines, getting vaccinated and boosted when possible, and to stay home and test if we are not feeling well.
I want to give a huge shout out to our Student Health Services staff, our Saints Rise Up Team and all who have worked on planning for spring term. The Minnesota Department of Health continues to be a strong partner in providing us with guidance and support, and we are grateful for everyone’s continued attention.
In addition to these important spring semester updates, we also have some celebratory news from our Athletics department to share:
- CSS student-athlete alums and current student-athletes made headlines in the past few weeks. In mid-December, the United States Biathlon Team announced its first two qualifiers for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing. Among those two qualifiers was former St. Scholastica Men’s Nordic Skier Paul Schommer ’15. Schommer skied competitively for the Saints from 2011-15 where he was a three-time NCAA qualifier, including earning Second Team All-America honors with an eighth-place finish in the 20km freestyle at the 2014 NCAA Championships. Biathlon will be contested Feb. 5-19 at the National Biathlon Center in Zhangjikou, China with our very own Chad Salmela, who coached Schommer, once again a broadcaster for NBC’s coverage of the Olympic Games.
- Earlier this week, current CSS nordic skier and cross country runner Emma Stertz qualified for the U.S. Biathlon Team for the Junior World Championships. The IBU Junior World Championships will take place at Soldier Hollow, Utah on Feb. 23-March 2.
- Finally, former CSS nordic skier and track & field athlete Kelin Dunfee also attempted to qualify for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing in speed skating. Dunfee came up just short placing fourth at the U.S. Team Trials on Wednesday in the 5000m race.
Thank you for all that you do to safeguard the health of our community! I hope each of you enjoyed the winter break and that you found time to restore and relax. We are excited to welcome our students back and to begin the second semester of our love of learning year!
Stay well, and blessings to you and your loved ones as we start 2022.