October 2: COVID-19 Employee Update from the Presidents

Dear CSB and SJU Faculty and Staff,

We hope this message finds you and your loved ones healthy and successfully meeting the challenges of this difficult time. We would like to provide you with an update on the status of our work at CSB and SJU around COVID-19. 

With a focus first on safety, we continue to follow the recommendations of the CDC and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). We have learned a lot and adapted frequently. Beyond the intense work over the summer to develop the academic “block plan” and put in place extra safety measures, we continue to improve our operations: 

  • The Presidents meet every morning to review the data and situation with Provost Richard Ice and the Vice Presidents for Student Development, Mary Geller and Mike Connolly. CSB and SJU have refined, strengthened and expanded our processes for testing, contact tracing, isolation and quarantine.
  • A COVID-19 student response team led by Mary Geller and Mike Connolly works directly with students on test results and contact tracing. Emily Rath, Lori Klapperich and Mike Ewing are members of the team, as are trained contact tracers and other student development staff as needed.
  • The Vice Presidents for Student Development are in continuous contact with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), CentraCare, and other members of the Minnesota Private College Council to understand and implement best practices. 
  • Casey Gordon and the CSB/SJU I.T. staff developed an in-house database to help detect trends and hot spots and ensure effective follow-up
  • Lori Klapperich, the Student COVID-19 Coordinator, leads the work to monitor data and respond. Most recently we used this data, on September 18, to implement mitigation measures for students when cases rose and then to lift those measures on October 2 when cases declined. We anticipate that sharp increases, followed by interventional strategies, followed by sharp declines, will be the pattern on our campuses through the coming months. 

Since we reopened this fall, there has been no transmission in classrooms or from college-sponsored activities. This gives us great confidence that the steps we have taken to minimize spread of the virus are working. We are grateful -- the academic block plan is working, and our safety measures are working.

We would like to publicly acknowledge those who have worked so hard to get us to this point and to extend our deepest appreciation for their commitment to our students and our institutions.

Looking forward, we must all continue to be diligent – to wear a mask, get a flu shot, wash our hands, and to socially distance. Each of us can also be a support to others in our community. A smile, a thumbs up, a word of encouragement can brighten the day of someone feeling lonely or down. These are the things we do in our community and we thank you.

Laurie Hamen             Eugene McAllister

CSB Interim President            SJU Interim President