Pandemic update: fall 2021

Changes have been made to policies to best suit the shifting nature of COVID-19 and the Hamline community’s safety and experience.

Anika Besst, News Editor

The "bishop" on campus wearing a mask as a reminder to students
Courtasy Of the Oracle
As the Hamline community reconvenes for another school year, COVID-19 policies and mandates remain in place though changed since the 2020-21 school year. As the Hamline community reconvenes for another school year, COVID-19 policies and mandates remain in place though changed since the 2020-21 school year.
and mandates remain in place though changed since the 2020-21 school year.

Hamline community members old and new are preparing for another semester while the COVID-19 pandemic prevails. 

After a full year and part of a semester navigating virtual classes, new housing policies and having to pivot in every way possible, this semester looks like a step in the direction of normalcy. 

This includes changes to policies and mandates to both keep the community safe and continue with everchanging guidelines and advice from the CDC and MN Department of Health (MDH).

In regards to this, COVID Coordinator Melinda Heikkinen and the COVID response team have spent the summer planning steps to allow the Hamline community to have the best experience possible. 

“You will see some changes on campus.  Following [MDH] guidance, distancing in classrooms has been reduced to 3 feet which will increase classroom capacities some.  The dining room in the [Anderson Center]  is also being arranged with 3 feet of distance,” wrote Heikkinen in an email. “We are working to allow more face to face interactions for student groups.  We need to ask everyone to be flexible in the event we have to make some adjustments to our COVID mitigation efforts.”  

One of the largest announcements related to COVID-19 is the vaccination policy. Announced on July 15th, all on-campus students and employees are required to receive the COVID-19 vaccination unless a recognized exemption is received by Hamline. Individuals had to submit record of being  vaccinated before August 15, with extensions past that date being dealt with on a case to case basis. 

Students who are unvaccinated or not fully-vaccinated must mask while indoors on campus and participate in COVID-19 testing every two weeks, as paraphrased from the Hamline website

“The [CDC] has stated that getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is the best way for individuals to protect themselves and those around them from the serious and on-going threat posed by the virus,” the policy states. “The [MDH] strongly encourages institutions of higher education to incorporate campus community vaccination rates in planning processes focused on returning to more normal operations. As congregate communities, institutions…have an increased risk of outbreaks within the community.”

Other schools in the area have made similar mandates such as Macalester, St. Thomas and St. Catherine’s. 

Another change since last year relates to the guest policy.

During the 2020-21 school year, students could not have people from outside the same residential hall in their dorm or building. The new policy allows people from outside a residence hall to visit, with the condition that they must wear masks in public spaces, and unvaccinated individuals wearing them always while indoors. (Hamline’s mask mandate currently requires masks to be worn in indoor spaces on campus by everyone). 


Hamline’s Counseling and Health office will continue to conduct most appointments virtually due to the high transmissibility of the Delta variant, with in-person appointments when necessary for assessing purposes. 

“Though many of us are disappointed that we are not returning to a completely ‘normal’ fall semester, it is worth reminding ourselves that we are in a much better place than we were one year ago.  COVID vaccines have proven very effective,” wrote Director of Counseling Hussein Rajput in an email. “Along with maximizing our collective vaccination rate, if we are diligent in following university policies (especially with regard to indoor masking) we can prevent outbreaks on campus this year.  We can finally celebrate the opportunity to come together as a community, but we still have to ‘play our cards right.’”

Unlike most of the 2020-21 school year, athletic events can now allow fans to attend games, while following Hamline mandates such as masks required during indoor events. 

Senior Sydney Larson who is pursuing her fourth year on the volleyball team is ready for fans again. 

I am so excited to have fans again. The fans, no matter how many, add more energy to the gym that cannot be beat when competing,” said Larson. “The background noise too will be nice, sometimes there is an awkward silence that the fans typically can fill up.” 

As for fitness facilities, the lobby of Bush was repurposed last year to allow space for non-athletes to workout. Bush will remain the space for non-athletes this upcoming year until further notice. 

This semester also has almost 3.5% more classes in person than fall of 2020 with 359 in-person, 58 hybrid and 43 online. This is in comparison to last year with 103, 169 and 213 respectively. 

Junior Maddie Sowinski and senior Donald Birttnen are both excited for this change after the semesters of virtual platforms for learning. 

“Personally, the classes I have struggled with the most in a virtual setting are my math and science classes. Being a physics major, those make up the bulk of my classes,” said Sowinski. “I am happy that Hamline is moving to having more in-person classes again as it works better with my personal learning style.” 

This is an opinion echoed by students alike as they prepare to learn and participate in a more in-person platform than was available for a while. 

“I am ready to possibly be in in-person classes,” said Birttnen. “I am also ready to hopefully start working with Elementary students again and getting to be in a classroom setting with them.”