November 9, 2020: Update on COVID-19 Cases

Dear St. Thomas students, faculty, and staff,

After several weeks of falling case counts on campus, Minnesota’s recent surge of COVID-19 infections is being felt by our university community.

As updated today on our COVID-19 COVID-19 dashboard, 80 new positive cases (including 78 students) were reported to the Center for Well-Being last week, our highest weekly total since the semester started and a sharp rise from the previous week’s total of 22. Thankfully, our contact tracing team is still not finding evidence of virus transmission in classrooms or labs. Our current spike has so far been traced mostly to off-campus gatherings – specifically, gatherings over the recent Fall Break, and Halloween parties.

While the number of cases has remained manageable thus far, please remember that this virus is highly contagious and is spreading rapidly. Given this, and the fact that Thanksgiving is just around the corner, we are implementing a two-week “quiet period.” Campus will remain open, and courses will continue as scheduled, but effective immediately we are taking the following steps:
  • We are advising all campus clubs and organizations to move their meetings and events online through Thanksgiving break.
  • Any in-person meetings on campus must be limited to 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors.
  • Minimize non-essential activities outside of your residence, and limit interactions where possible to people you live with, etc.
  • Double down on our health and safety protocols, especially wearing your face coverings and masks and staying six feet away from others. Please also remember to frequently wash your hands (or use hand sanitizer).
And finally … we strongly urge students to not host or attend gatherings or parties, including going to bars. We cannot emphasize this point enough; many cases at universities across the country have been linked to student gatherings. Please be responsible and think of your families, friends and community members; limiting your exposure between now and Thanksgiving will greatly reduce the risk of you bringing this virus back home over the holidays.

We ask all university departments and organizations to partner and support students to help implement this quiet period. Doing so will greatly improve our abilities to lower new case numbers and offer in-person instruction on campus.

Please take this seriously. Our success requires cooperation from all.

Thank you,
Karen M. Lange, Ed.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs
Co-chair, Campus Preparedness Plan

Wendy N. Wyatt, Ph.D.
Vice Provost for Academic Affairs
Co-chair, Campus Preparedness Plan