COVID-19 Testing for Employees Working on Campus after Thanksgiving Break

by University Marketing and Communications

As a result of increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases in the Western Upper Peninsula and statewide, the MTU Flex Task Force asks that certain Michigan Tech employees get tested for COVID-19 following Thanksgiving break.

“Employees who need to be on campus after Thanksgiving break and who either traveled or gathered with others beyond their normal circle are being asked to get tested for COVID-19 the week of their return to campus and again the following week,” said Joel Isaacson, project manager of the MTU Flex Task Force and the University’s senior associate athletic director. “We encourage those employees to limit their interactions with others between these two tests.”

Supervisors of student workers are responsible for telling students how to get tested if they return to campus after Thanksgiving break. The process for scheduling an asymptomatic test is identical for both employees and students. Simply text Hello to 906-256-6466 and follow the prompts. Employees and students who do not have access to texting can schedule an appointment by calling Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center (UGL) at 906-483-1860.

Isaacson said employees and students who are symptomatic or believe they have been exposed to COVID-19 should call UGL at 906-483-1860 to schedule a test and should not schedule an on-demand test via text message. Isaacson noted that anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days does not need to get tested.

Everyone should continue to exercise personal hygiene and safety practices during and after Thanksgiving break. Many cases of COVID-19 are asymptomatic, and people who do have symptoms frequently exhibit only a sore throat and congestion, similar to a mild cold.

“Remember to wash your hands frequently with soap, wear a face covering, and limit social interactions to a small group of family and friends. We want everyone to have a healthy holiday season,” Isaacson said.

Please direct questions to mtuflex@mtu.edu.


Residence Hall Students Action Required: Fall COVID Response Departure Plans

by Matt Weekley, Director of Housing Auxiliary Operations and Residence Education

Dear Michigan Tech Residence Hall students,

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we continue to work through fast-moving developments with the State’s response to COVID-19. As you may know, on November 15, Governor Whitmer announced new orders issued by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to mitigate the spread of the virus. This email explains how this order impacts your residency and what actions you need to take.

Because COVID-19 cases are again on the rise in Michigan, the University’s goal is to minimize population density on campus as much as possible. With all Michigan Tech classes going fully remote for the remainder of the fall semester, we do not expect many students to return to campus after the Thanksgiving break, unless they have extenuating circumstances. In order for us to provide you with the support you may need as you get ready to depart, all residence hall students must complete a COVID Departure Plan Form to inform us of your plans. 

Housing Credit

Students are eligible to receive a housing credit (including housing and meal plan) in the amount of $1,100 that will be credited to their student account in December if all of the following apply:

  • The student has completed the COVID Departure Plan Form by Friday, November 20.
  • The student has left their residence hall by Sunday, November 29 at 5 p.m.and remains remote for the duration of the semester. 
  • The student is not receiving a Residence Education and Housing Services staff credit which covers full room and board expenses.

By receiving this credit, students may not use their room and meal plan after November 29 except to store property. Card access will be turned off. Students who attempt to use their meal plan (including dining dollars and guest passes) or rooms after November 29 will forfeit their housing credit. If you have left something behind, please contact your Residence Education Coordinator or housing@mtu.edu to coordinate retrieving things from your room.

Preparing to Leave

When students leave for Thanksgiving Break, they should make sure they have what they need for the duration of the semester and through Thanksgiving and Winter Break period.  When preparing to leave your room, please follow these guidelines:

  • Remember: Non-MTU guests are not permitted in the residence halls. Guests who are picking students up are permitted to meet students outside but cannot assist with checkout within the building.
  • Remove all trash and recycling from your room.
  • Clean all dirty laundry before you leave (or take it home with you to wash).
  • Unplug and defrost your fridge for 24 hours before leaving with a towel under the door of the fridge. Make sure to remove the towel before you leave.
  • Take your food with you or place it in a sealed plastic container so it does not attract pests.
  • Unplug all electronic devices and turn off your lights. Shut off all battery-operated alarms.
  • Keep your heat turned on at a low setting if you have a control unit in your room.
  • Take your bike home or put it in storage. 
  • Pick up all mail and packages from the reception desk.
  • Close and lock your windows and doors so they are sealed shut.
  • If you are leaving your car on campus, please park it in lot 26 and email Transportation Services so they know your car will be here during break.
  • If you have a private bathroom: please remove your personal property from your bathrooms so your bathroom space can be sanitized over Winter break.
  • If you are returning to the halls for spring:  Keep your room key and your Husky Card with you.  
  • If you are not returning to the halls for spring because you have been approved for a COVID waiver, a fall departure, or a contract release, follow these additional instructions:
    • Remove your property from the room.
    • Clean and restore your side of the room to its original set up (bed lofted above the desk, chair, and set of drawers).
    • Arrange to complete an Express Check-Out through your RA.
    • Return your keys in the provided blue envelope to your front desk. Hillside residents who do not have keys will turn in the blue check-out card.

Students who applied to stay during Thanksgiving Break

Students who have a need to stay during Thanksgiving Break can continue to do so by completing the COVID Departure Plan Form.  

Students who have extenuating circumstances and need to stay for the remainder of the semester

Students are expected to leave by Thanksgiving Break to study remotely for the duration of the semester.  Students who have extenuating circumstances that prevent them from leaving can apply to stay beyond November 29 using the COVID Departure Plan Form. Decisions on approval will be communicated to the student by Michigan Tech email. Students that are approved will be permitted to stay through December 19 but will not receive a housing credit. More information on availability of Winter Break accommodations, including cost, will be released in the future.

Visitation Restricted

With the elevation to Health and Safety Level Five, all visitation is restricted for all residence hall rooms. Students are prohibited from visiting other halls, with the exception of eating in Wadsworth Dining Hall during meal hours.

Residence Hall Access Restrictions

All exterior residence hall doors will lock Friday, November 20 at 8 p.m. Resident students will still have Husky Card tap access to their residence hall through November 29 at 5 p.m.  

Dining Hall Operations

Dining halls will continue operating through Friday, November 20. Dining halls will be closed for Thanksgiving Break. After November 29, only Wadsworth Dining Hall will be open during select meal periods through the duration of the semester.

Front Desk Operations

Front Desk operations will change effective Wednesday, November 18 with limited hours of service. Mail service will pause between November 20-29 and resume November 30 with limited mail service only. The front desk will stop checking out equipment (such as dollies and vacuum cleaners) effective November 20 for the duration of the fall semester.  

Residence Hall Space Closures

With most students moving home and the elevation to Health and Safety Level Five, we will be assessing spaces in the halls to close and making sure the ones that remain open are in close proximity to the most amount of students in an area. Students should be prepared that many spaces in the halls will likely be closed. Additional restrictions (number of people permitted, hours of operation) may apply.

With the recent national surge of COVID-19 cases, we urge all residents to continue following the mitigation strategies and be extra cautious in all their travels. If you have any housing questions or need additional assistance, please do not hesitate to contact Residence Education and Housing Services at housing@mtu.edu 

Be safe in all your travels.


Move to Health and Safety Level Five on November 18

by Bonnie Gorman, Dean of Students and Vice President for Student Affairs

Last night, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued the Pause to Save Lives emergency order, which takes effect Wednesday, November 18, at 12 a.m. This means Michigan Tech will transition to Health and Safety Level Five.

As a result, the following changes will take effect starting Wednesday, November 18, at 12 a.m.:

  • All in-person educational activities are suspended through December. 
  • No group gatherings will be allowed. 
  • With the exception of Thursday’s flu shot clinic all campus events are canceled, including commencement. 
  • Dining and other campus operations will be scaled down. Details will be provided on the Campus Operations page of the MTU Flex website.

All student support services will be available virtually. Let us know if you need something. Also, because the vast majority of you will not be on campus, filling out the Daily Symptom Monitoring Form will no longer be necessary to access Canvas. You’re required to fill out the form, however, if you need to come to campus. Should you have any symptoms of COVID-19 and have questions, please send an email to contact-tracing@mtu.edu.

As President Koubek mentioned in his email on Friday, the University will issue housing and dining credit for the remaining three weeks of the semester to students who live in the residence halls and do not return to campus after the Thanksgiving break. Residence Education and Housing Services will provide more information on this soon. 

We remain optimistic that we will return to face-to-face instruction in January. However, there are contingency plans in place should we need to continue with remote instruction. A decision about the spring semester will be made no later than December 28, 2020.

Huskies, your efforts to Be Smart and Do Your Part in order to finish the fall semester face-to-face were terrific. Everyone on campus appreciates your hard work and #tenacity. Thank you.


Move to Health and Safety Level Four on November 23

by Rick Koubek, President

Dear Members of the Michigan Tech Community: 

I want to begin this email by restating how proud I am of the MTU campus community’s behavior throughout this pandemic. We have kept our case counts under control with positivity rates well below statewide averages. Classes are progressing, and we continue to move forward as a University. However, we are cognizant of the rapid growth of COVID-19 cases around us—in the UP, Michigan, and neighboring states. Projections show this outbreak growing through the end of the year, and these are all areas students will be visiting during Thanksgiving break. In response, Michigan Tech will transition to Health and Safety Level Four effective Monday, November 23. This transition is a targeted effort to mitigate further spread among our community at large by significantly reducing the number of people on campus after Thanksgiving.

Lecture-based classes will move to a remote format after the Thanksgiving break. However, a small number of labs, Enterprise, Senior Design, and other hands-on courses (including graduate research) will remain face-to-face. Instructors will notify their students early next week whether their classes will continue with face-to-face instruction. Students who continue with face-to-face instruction after Thanksgiving will be tested for COVID-19 upon their return to campus, and then again during the following week. 

We ask students living in the residence halls who do not have face-to-face classes after Thanksgiving to leave their residence hall at the Thanksgiving break and not return for the remainder of the semester. Students leaving the residence halls will receive prorated housing and dining credit/refunds. All students will receive additional information early next week regarding University housing.

Effective November 23, on-campus indoor gatherings will be limited to no more than 10 people and outdoor gatherings may not exceed 25 people, which may affect planned student activities. The library, SDC, dining halls, transportation services, and other student support offices will remain operational. However, retail dining facilities will be closed beginning Monday, November 23, until further notice. 

Research activities on campus will continue with slight modifications. Information will be posted on the COVID-19 Research Information web page early next week. 

With this shift, we ask supervisors to accommodate employees who are able to work from home. 

And, finally, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, we are grateful to all of you for helping to keep Michigan Tech safe and healthy. Thank you for doing your part, and for being part of our outstanding community.

Sincerely, 
Rick Koubek
President



MTU Flex Team Summary for the Week Ending November 6

by MTU Flex Task Force

The moving 14-day total of detected COVID-19 cases this week is 31, compared to 18 the week before. Our weekly surveillance detection rate remains low, at 1 percent. Currently, less than 10 percent of on-campus isolation space is in use. Please continue to report all COVID-19 close contact and symptoms through the Daily Symptom Monitoring Form.

After last week’s announcement that we would provide increased on-demand, asymptomatic COVID-19 testing for students the week before Thanksgiving break, we received an impressive and enthusiastic response from the student community. As a result, we decided to increase on-demand testing a week ahead of schedule. Beginning Monday, November 9, and continuing through the rest of the semester, on-demand tests for students will be available on campus Monday through Thursday in the MUB Alumni Lounge. On-demand testing for students will not be available during the Thanksgiving break, from November 23 to 27. More information is available on the COVID-19 Testing Information for Students web page.

This increase in on-demand student testing does not impact our testing arrangements for temporary and regular employees who work 20 or more hours per week. Employees who meet this criteria may receive up to two free asymptomatic COVID-19 tests on campus during the fall semester.

Looking ahead to Thanksgiving break, anyone planning to travel should limit social interaction for two weeks prior in order to lower your chances of contracting COVID-19. If you plan to head home on Friday, November 20, you should reduce your social interaction starting today. You can do this by keeping your social gatherings small and, if possible, limited to the same group of people. Kelly Kamm, Michigan Tech’s epidemiologist and an assistant professor of kinesiology and integrative physiology, offered other travel tips in a recent Tech Today article.

We announced earlier this week that, thanks to a gift from the Portage Health Foundation, our COVID-19 Testing Lab will soon be able to process nearly twice as many tests in half the time and with fewer personnel. Other contributions to the COVID-19 lab and community testing efforts include:

  • 10,000 face shields and 50,000 face coverings from Ford
  • $73,000 in powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR) equipment for lab and hospital use, along with PAPR equipment training, from Dow
  • $4,300 in hand sanitizer (equal to 600 bottles) from Kimberly-Clark

Again, thank you for all you are doing to keep our community protected and safe. If you have any questions regarding Michigan Tech’s surveillance testing program, please visit mtu.edu/flex/testing.


Increased COVID-19 Testing for Students Nov. 16-20

by MTU Flex Task Force

With the Thanksgiving holiday fast approaching and many students planning to travel home, the University has made arrangements to increase on-demand, asymptomatic COVID-19 testing for students during the week of Nov. 16-20. Students have been made aware that testing will be available and that final details about how to schedule a test will be provided in the near future.

This increase in on-demand student testing does not impact our testing arrangements for temporary and regular employees who work 20 or more hours per week. Employees who meet this criteria may receive up to two free asymptomatic COVID-19 tests on campus during the fall semester.

If you work closely with students, please be aware that all on-demand, asymptomatic COVID-19 tests for students during the week of Nov. 16-20 will be scheduled via text message. Students should not attempt to schedule an on-demand test for that week until final scheduling details are provided through email and updates to the COVID-19 Testing Information for Students web page.

We have also asked students to limit their social interaction for two weeks prior to travel. For example, if they plan to drive home Friday, Nov. 20, they should start limiting their social interaction next Friday, Nov. 6, by keeping their social gatherings small and, if possible, limited to the same group of people. 

For more information, please visit mtu.edu/flex. Please send questions to mtuflex@mtu.edu.


MTU Flex Team Summary for the Week Ending October 30

by MTU Flex Task Force

Cases of COVID-19 remain low on campus. Our moving 14-day total of detected COVID-19 cases is 18. Our weekly surveillance detection rate also remains low, at 0.5 percent. Currently, less than 15 percent of on-campus isolation space is in use. Please continue to report all COVID-19 close contact and symptoms through the Daily Symptom Monitoring Form.

With the Thanksgiving holiday fast approaching and many students planning to travel home, the University has made arrangements to increase on-demand, asymptomatic COVID-19 testing for students during the week of November 16-20. Students have been made aware that testing will be available and that final details about how to schedule a test will be provided in the near future.

This increase in on-demand student testing does not impact our testing arrangements for temporary and regular employees who work 20 or more hours per week. Employees who meet this criteria may receive up to two free asymptomatic COVID-19 tests on campus during the fall semester.

If you work closely with students, please be aware that all on-demand, asymptomatic COVID-19 tests for students during the week of November 16-20 will be scheduled via text message. Students should not attempt to schedule an on-demand test for that week until final scheduling details are provided through email and updates to the COVID-19 Testing Information for Students web page.

We have also asked students to limit their social interaction for two weeks prior to travel. For example, if they plan to drive home Friday, November 20, they should start limiting their social interaction next Friday, November 6, by keeping their social gatherings small and, if possible, limited to the same group of people. 

The Michigan Tech COVID-19 Testing Lab is finalizing plans for increased testing capacity following the Thanksgiving holiday. We will provide more information in the coming days.

Everyone, thank you again for all you are doing to keep our community protected and safe. If you have any questions regarding Michigan Tech’s surveillance testing program, please visit mtu.edu/flex/testing.


MTU Flex Team Summary for the Week Ending October 23

by MTU Flex Task Force

Cases of COVID-19 remain low on campus. Our moving 14-day total of detected COVID-19 cases is declining, with nine cases recorded. Our weekly surveillance detection rate also remains low, at 0.4 percent. Currently, less than 3 percent of on-campus isolation space is in use. Please continue to report all COVID-19 close contact and symptoms through the Daily Symptom Monitoring Form.

The Michigan Tech COVID-19 Testing Lab is finalizing plans for increased testing capacity following the Thanksgiving holiday. We will provide more information in the coming days.


University Increases Some Capacity Limits

by MTU Flex Task Force

As a result of Michigan Tech’s low to steady COVID-19 positivity rate, the University has increased capacity limits for both indoor and outdoor situations. 

Effectively immediately, the capacities for indoor events such as registered student organization events and community rentals have increased to 25. Additionally, 50 people are now permitted at outdoor events.


MTU Flex Team Summary for the Week Ending October 16

by MTU Flex Task Force

Cases of COVID-19 remain low on campus. Our moving 14-day total of detected COVID-19 cases is declining, with 31 cases recorded this week and 48 cases recorded last week. Our weekly surveillance detection rate is low, at 0.3 percent. Surveillance testing increased this week and will continue to increase next week. Currently, we have no one utilizing the on-campus isolation spaces. Please continue to report all COVID-19 close contacts and symptoms through the Daily Symptom Monitoring Form.