Two Minnesota colleges to require masks, booster shots during upcoming semester

Despite the mandatory booster, everyone on campus will be required to wear a mask in shared spaces.

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Two closely related colleges in Minnesota are implementing a temporary mask mandate and requiring eligible students, faculty, and staff to receive a COVID booster.

The College of Saint Benedict and St. John’s University (CSBSJU), located in the central Minnesota town of St. Joseph, wrote a letter announcing the measures on Monday.

First off, certain students will be required to take a COVID test after arriving on campus for the spring 2022 semester. Testing will take place from Jan. 11 to 14. Students exempt from this requirement are those who have already received a booster shot, tested positive for COVID within the past 90 days, or have begun their series of vaccinations.

CSBSJU is also “strongly recommending” that students take a “pre-arrival” COVID test to submit on Monday, Jan. 10, the first day of classes.

The next measure is a mandatory COVID booster for eligible students, faculty, and staff. Everyone who has received their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine more than six months ago must get a booster, as well as everyone who has received their only dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine more than two months ago.

“The recent emergence of the Omicron variant further emphasizes the importance of vaccination, boosters, and prevention efforts needed to protect against COVID-19,” the CSBJU letter reads. “MDH and CDC now recommend that all qualified individuals should get a vaccine booster shot.”

Those who obtained a religious or medical exemption will not need to complete another exemption form, but those who are vaccinated and do not want the booster must fill one out.

Despite the mandatory booster, everyone on campus will be required to wear a mask in shared spaces indoors or on transportation, even the vaccinated and boosted. CSBSJU claims, however, that this is just a “temporary” mandate.

“The [Pandemic Planning Committee] will continue to monitor and evaluate the need for this requirement using campus COVID-19 and other health data as well as MDH/CDC guidance. We plan to update the campus community weekly,” the letter reads.