January 20: Presidents' Message to Employees

Dear CSB and SJU Employees,

Next Monday, January 25, our students will arrive back on our campuses for spring semester. The new semester brings great hope and enthusiasm; our students and families, faculty, administration, and staff will succeed, together.

This spring, we will focus on several strategies in response to COVID-19:

  • Targeted student testing to contain and avoid surges;
  • Keeping students on-campus and engaged in an enriching campus life;
  • Communications that better explain the level of virus transmission and subsequent responses; and
  • Advocating for the vaccination of our community.

As students return to campus for spring semester, you’ll notice many new COVID-compliant spaces and activities. As we connect our students to services and to one another, it is our expectation that each office will be open and staffed in-person during regular business hours beginning Monday, January 25. Supervisors have discretion to rotate or stagger employee schedules (between in-person and online work) based on staff composition, operational needs, and physical space available.

For staff on approved health-related accommodations, the accommodation remains in place if there has been no change in status. Additional details, including information on quarantine, isolation and special COVID leave, can be found in the Spring COVID-19 Preparedness Plan or by contacting COVID Employee Coordinator or Carol Abell in Human Resources. Thank you for your ongoing service and commitment to CSB and SJU and our wonderful students. 

Currently, there is not a preference for vaccinations for higher education, but we are working on that. The CSB/SJU COVID Team is working with Stearns County Public Health to identify staff who qualify for Phase 1a and Phase 1b vaccinations, including life safety and campus security, athletic trainers, health services staff, nursing faculty and nursing students with clinical rotations. Employees who are not on the staff list above, and who wish to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, should contact their primary care providers.

CSB Health Services is registered as a future COVID-19 vaccine provider, and staff have completed training to administer the vaccine; however, no vaccines have been allocated to us at this time. We will follow MDH guidance for distribution of vaccine when it is available, and we will continue our efforts to advocate for and advance the health and safety of our employees and students. The Minnesota Private College Council is also advocating strongly for higher education employees and students to move up on the priority list for COVID-19 vaccinations. 

The testing strategy requires students to submit a negative COVID-19 test before they return for classes on January 25. In addition, we will host a large-scale testing event in early February there, plus frequent targeted testing during spring semester. Regular testing of student-athletes (up to three times per week) will assist in monitoring and preventing potential surges. We have faith that these precautions will help us all be safe on campus. 

We have also established new COVID-19 Alert Levels to help us track and communicate transmission and response throughout the semester. We will start at the lowest alert state, “vigilance,” reflecting the low level of transmission on campus at this time. We hope our plan regular testing, engagement of students, increased communication, and vaccination advocacy will help us control the spread of the virus through the spring. 

We welcome you back and wish you a safe and happy spring semester. We are thankful for your dedicated and thoughtful work during these difficult days and for the commitment you have shown to our students and our mission. We are very grateful to you and for you. 

Sincerely,

Laurie Hamen, J.D.

Interim President

College of Saint Benedict

Eugene McAllister, Ph.D.

Interim President

Saint John’s University