Arrangements for Employees Under Health and Safety Level Four

by Renee Hiller, Director of Human Resources

Michigan Tech has moved to Health and Safety Level Four for the next two weeks. In light of this and the switch to remote instruction by Houghton County K-12 schools, the University asks supervisors to accommodate employees who are able to work from home or those impacted by the K-12 schools’ decision. Such accommodations may include flexible and remote work options, as well as access to leave under the current Emergency Family and Medical Leave Act (EFMLA), which provides paid time off for anyone caring for a child whose school or place of care has been closed due to COVID-19.

More information on these and other options will be provided through the supervisor forums. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact humanresources@mtu.edu with questions.


Michigan Tech to Shift to Health and Safety Level Four

by Rick Koubek, President

Thanks to the collective work of our employees and students, detected cases of COVID-19 in our student population continue to decline. But, as we work to satisfy our mission as an educational institution, we remain mindful of our commitment to the community. 

The Copper Country has seen a recent surge in COVID-19 cases. Given the seriousness of the situation, Michigan Tech will transition to Health and Safety Level Four for a period of two weeks (through October 11) effective Monday, September 28. This transition is a targeted effort to mitigate further spread among our community at large by temporarily reducing the density of people on campus.


MTU Flex Team Summary: Week Ending September 25

by MTU Flex Task Force

The MTU Flex team is hopeful, as signs of slowing transmission are beginning to appear in our campus community. Michigan Tech’s number of detected COVID-19 cases in the previous 14 days dropped from 92 last week to 63 this week. Our detection rate from surveillance testing continues to hover around 1.1 percent. On campus, isolation space utilization is currently near 15 percent. On a call with us earlier this week, local health care providers continued to report green light conditions of capacity.

Last week, the MTU COVID-19 Testing Lab completed its 10,000th test, with the majority of testing having been for the community. Currently the lab is seeing an increased demand for tests from the community at large and is redirecting more capacity to help with those efforts, as well as prioritizing samples coming from symptomatic individuals, doctor referrals, and other high-risk populations. 


MTU Flex Team Summary: Week Ending September 18

by MTU Flex Team

Our second full week of surveillance testing is nearly complete. The last seven days resulted in 544 surveillance tests conducted, with a detection rate of 1.5 percent, or eight cases where COVID-19 was detected. Student participation in testing remains strong, as weekly total test goals were surpassed both this week and last. We thank all students who participated.   

Our testing suggests that transmission, while occurring at a lower rate than in past weeks, could be happening in shared housing situations and within a case’s immediate social circle. We are unaware of any spread related to on-campus educational activity. 


Changes Made to COVID-19 Testing Statistics Site

by MTU Flex Team

As part of the ongoing effort to provide the Michigan Tech community with the lastest COVID-19 testing data available, the Michigan Tech Flex Team has made changes to the Michigan Tech COVID-19 Testing Statistics webpage on the MTU Flex web site

The webpage contains testing information, including number of completed tests, the number of cases detected and the percentage of cases detected over the past 14 days. In addition, the dashboard contains the total number of completed tests and the total of cases detected since campus testing began in July.

The updated webpage breaks down the testing statistics into two separate categories —Surveillance Testing Statistics and Non-Surveillance Testing Statistics. 

Surveillance testing refers to testing on the population level, rather than on an individual level. Surveillance testing involves asymptomatic individuals and is used by health professionals to sample a certain percentage of a population to get a sense of whether COVID-19 infections are increasing or decreasing. Surveillance testing also lets health professionals know how well mitigation efforts, such as social distancing, are working. 

Surveillance testing numbers are taken from pooled testing results and are broken down into a seven-day moving total and daily testing statistics. Both charts list the number of completed tests during that time, the number of cases detected and the percentage detected.

Non-surveillance testing involves testing symptomatic individuals and those who are physician referred. It also includes those who self-report. Non-surveillance testing numbers, reported on a daily basis, include the number of completed tests on a given day, the number of cases detected and the percentage detected. Because non-surveillance testing involves individuals who are showing symptoms of COVID-19 or who have been referred by a doctor, the total number of completed tests is lower but the number and percentage of cases detected would be expected to be higher than with surveillance testing.

Sarah Schulte, general counsel and secretary to the Board of Trustees, said the revised webpage gives a clearer picture of COVID-19 testing at Michigan Tech.

“The Michigan Tech COVID-19 Testing Statistics webpage is now being updated daily Monday through Friday. The request for more frequent updates was made by employees and students, and we are pleased to be able to fulfill that request. In addition to cumulative data and data for the previous 14 days, the dashboard now displays the 7-day moving average for surveillance testing. It also lists daily testing data for both surveillance testing and non-surveillance testing.”

The statistics reported on the MTU Flex site reflect Michigan Tech testing only, for additional countywide resources, statistics and alerts visit the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department.


COVID-19 Testing Update

by MTU Flex Task Force

Throughout the fall semester, as we continue to test more students through our surveillance testing program and more employees participate in asymptomatic testing, it is likely we will see fluctuations in our testing results. Because testing for the weekend has concluded, we’ve posted Tuesday morning’s report. The figures posted today reflect a sizable increase in the number of tests where COVID-19 has been detected. 

This increase reflects the efforts of our testing strategy. This past week, we concentrated testing on a few potential “hot spots” in an effort to isolate potential positive clusters. Much of last week’s testing focused on individuals in off-campus congregate living and those spending time with specific groups of individuals. 


#MaskUPHuskies

by Student Behaviors and Expectations Working Group

To help spread the word that wearing a face mask is crucial in stopping the spread of COVID-19 on campus, the Student Behaviors and Expectations Working Group has created the #maskUPhuskies social media campaign.

The #maskUPhuskies effort is a gentle, humorous way to not only encourage students to wear facemasks but also to give them tools to spread the word.


Baseline Testing Complete, Surveillance Testing Begins

by MTU Flex Task Force

On Saturday, August 29, Michigan Tech concluded its student baseline testing program. Over the last two weeks, 1,784 COVID-19 tests were conducted. The virus was detected in seven individual tests, for a detection rate of 0.39%. The University’s student surveillance testing program begins today, August 31.

One of the primary purposes of our baseline testing program was to catch asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 and contain outbreaks of the virus through contact tracing. Over the weekend, the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department (WUPHD) identified Theta Tau, an off-campus location, as a potential exposure site for COVID-19. Contact tracers are working diligently to identify and get in touch with those known to have come in close contact with the infected person. (Theta Tau is not a University-recognized Greek organization due to prior misconduct.)


COVID-19 Asymptomatic Testing Information for Employees

by MTU Flex Task Force

Beginning Monday, August 31, temporary and regular employees who work 20 or more hours per week may receive up to two free asymptomatic COVID-19 tests on campus during the fall semester. Testing will take place in the MUB Alumni Lounge. To schedule a test, please visit the COVID-19 Testing Information for Employees web page. There are a limited number of appointment slots available each weekday. Union and non-union regular employees will receive release time of up to 30 minutes for a scheduled test.  

Please be aware that, prior to or after scheduling your test, you may receive an email from Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center (UGL), asking you to complete your UGL Patient Portal profile. More information about this process can be found on the COVID-19 Testing Information for Employees web page.

The test is painless and quick. The test sample is collected via a soft oropharyngeal swab, which is briefly applied to the back of your throat by a trained UGL testing staff member. The swab is then placed in a vial and sent to the testing lab on campus. The results will be made available electronically in your UGL Patient Portal, likely within two to three business days.

Employees who work fewer than 20 hours per week whose work puts them in regular, direct contact with the public or students should contact Human Resources if they are interested in being tested. Employee asymptomatic testing does not extend to student-employees, who will be part of the University’s ongoing student surveillance testing program.

The asymptomatic testing program should not be used by symptomatic individuals or individuals who have been in close contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19—those tests are always available and are covered by insurance. If you experience COVID-19 symptoms or believe you may have been exposed, call the UGL Clinic at 906-483-1860 and tell them about your symptoms before scheduling a test. You can also call your preferred health care provider, UP Health System Portage (906-483-1000), or Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital (906-337-6500).


Thank you and Welcome

by Rick Koubek, President

Dear Members of the Michigan Tech Community, Welcome back! 

Throughout the summer, the faculty and staff at Michigan Tech have worked hard to implement many of the known measures that slow the spread of COVID-19. Because of your efforts, we are able to welcome students to campus next week. Some of these include: