Macalester president on reopening the campus: 'We’re going to follow the science'

Macalester College
The campus of Macalester College in St. Paul. The president of Macalester College says the school has instituted a number of precautions to prevent COVID-19 infections and transmissions among students who begin arriving next week.
Nikki Tundel | MPR News file 2010

First-year and international students will begin arriving at Macalester College next week. The college was hoping for a more robust reopening this fall, but just recently scaled back those plans, citing rising COVID-19 case numbers in Minnesota and across the country.

Macalester College President Suzanne Rivera.
Macalester College President Suzanne Rivera
Courtesy of Macalester College

Still, college president Suzanne Rivera said she has prioritized bringing students back to the St. Paul campus as safely as possible. She said students’ on-campus experience, both inside and outside the classroom, is a vital part of their education.

Rivera spoke with MPR News host Cathy Wurzer a day after the University of Notre Dame and Michigan State University both announced plans to modify their fall schedules while grappling with COVID-19 outbreaks among students.

Notre Dame is canceling its in-person classes for two weeks, and Michigan State is transitioning to remote learning for the rest of the semester.

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At Macalester, Rivera said administrators are taking significant steps to guard against the spread of the virus. Dorms will be limited to a single resident per room, allowing for easier quarantine procedures in the event of an outbreak.

Additionally, the college plans to break up its traditional semester structure to accommodate possible disruptions from the pandemic.

“We’re going to follow the science, and we’re going to follow the best public health advice,” Rivera said.

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.

COVID-19 in Minnesota