Health and Safety Levels Update and More Info on Federal Mandates

by MTU Flex Task Force

Dear Members of the Michigan Tech Community, Our moving 14-day total of detected COVID-19 shows 59 active cases confirmed on campus. Houghton County has a seven-day average of 17 confirmed cases per day (as of October 22).

Because we are seeing an increase in cases, both on campus and in the local community, we are returning to the Health and Safety Level protocols that were in place at the start of the fall semester. Beginning Monday, October 25, face coverings will be required indoors on campus, with the exception of the SDC and Gates Tennis Center, where face coverings remain recommended for all. You are not required to wear a face covering when alone in an enclosed space. Please refer to our Health and Safety Levels for additional information.

Federal Contractor Vaccination or Exception Mandate

As discussed in President Koubek’s email this morning, the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force has issued requirements for federal contractors and subcontractors to comply with the various safety protocols outlined in President Biden’s Path Out of the Pandemic plan and Executive Order 14042.

The order’s federal contractor vaccination mandate requires institutions with significant federal contracts to have all employees fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or have an approved exception. Because Michigan Tech has significant federal contracts, the University must implement a vaccination/exception mandate for all University employees who work in the United States, even if they work remotely.

At Michigan Tech, these mandates will go into effect beginning January 10, 2022, at the start of the spring semester. It will apply to full-time, part-time, and temporary employees. It will also include student employees. At this time, the mandate does not extend to students who are not employed by the University.

More detailed information regarding vaccination and exception requirements is included below and on the MTU Flex website.

Vaccination Timing

All employees must be fully vaccinated or have an approved exception byJanuary 10, 2022. A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Please note that the Pfizer vaccine doses are given 21 days apart and the Moderna doses are given 28 days apart. Vaccines approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) are also acceptable under CDC guidance.

The COVID-19 vaccine is free, and doses are available at most pharmacies and health care providers. Please visit the Copper Country Strong website for information about where and how to get vaccinated in the Western Upper Peninsula.

Vaccination Documentation

Under the federal requirements, employees will need to show proof of their vaccination status. We are building a confidential process employees can use to provide this proof, either electronically or in person, and which Michigan Tech will use to review that documentation. We will provide more information as soon as we are able.

Exception from Vaccination

Employees with documented medical reasons for being unvaccinated may be entitled to a disability accommodation excepting them from the vaccination mandate. Medical exceptions can be requested by contacting Michigan Tech’s ADA Coordinator at adacoordinator@mtu.edu. Information and a form will be sent to employees for completion, and documentation will be required from a medical provider.

Employees with a sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance that prevents them from receiving a COVID-19 vaccine may be entitled to an accommodation excepting them from the vaccination mandate. Accommodation requests based on a religious belief, practice, or observance should be made using the religious exception form. When completed, this form should be submitted to Michigan Tech General Counsel Sarah Schulte at shschult@mtu.edu.

All accommodation requests are confidential. In the event that a request is granted, only those individuals who need to know of the accommodation will be informed of it. In the event that an accommodation request is denied, it will not be shared beyond those performing the review, except as requested by the individual seeking the exception. Employees who receive a vaccination exception may be required to comply with alternative health and safety protocols.

All employees need to be fully vaccinated or have an accommodation in place prior to January 10, 2022. Human Resources will work with employees who have challenges with those requirements.

Please send your questions about any of these topics to mtuflex@mtu.edu


Michigan Tech Affected by New Federal Mandates

by Rick Koubek, President

On September 24, 2021, the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force issued requirements for federal contractors and subcontractors concerning various safety protocols as outlined in President Biden’s Path Out of the Pandemic plan and Executive Order 14042.

Michigan Tech receives a portion of its research funding through federal contracts and therefore is subject to these new federal mandates. This means that as long as these federal requirements are in effect, Michigan Tech must comply. 

Ultimately, to comply with these requirements, all employees must provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or receive a medical or religious exception with the University. The current federal mandate does not apply to students unless they are also University employees. This requirement will take effect on January 10, 2022. 

The federal mandate also stipulates that federal contractors institute a face covering policy with guidelines based on transmission rates in the community. 

More information about these mandates will be provided in an email from the MTU Flex Task Force later today and is available on the MTU Flex website

As we take steps to implement these new federal requirements, Michigan Tech is committed to providing the appropriate support and resources to our employees. The MTU Flex Task Force is available to help answer questions you may have. I encourage you to contact mtuflex@mtu.edu. However, it is important that we adhere to these new requirements by January 10, 2022, which coincides with the start of the spring semester. 

I would like to thank everyone on our campus for your remarkable commitment to the health and safety of our community during the pandemic. I also recognize and appreciate your flexibility and patience. The constantly changing nature of this situation continues to test our fortitude, but we have proven that no challenge is too formidable for our campus community to overcome.


MTU Flex Team Summary for the Week Ending October 15, 2021

by MTU Flex Task Force

Our moving 14-day total of detected COVID-19 cases stands at 29 active cases confirmed on campus. Houghton County has a seven-day average of 16 confirmed cases per day (as of Oct. 13). Please continue to report positive test results, whether you are using an at-home test or a PCR test outside of our Michigan Tech testing center, using the Report a COVID-19 Test form.

Our wastewater testing program is ongoing and results are consistent with the University’s confirmed case count. Less than 15 percent of our on-campus isolation space is currently occupied. 

We greatly appreciate all those who help keep our campus safe by volunteering, particularly the EMS student team who have been working in the University’s COVID-19 Testing Lab. We owe you a debt of gratitude for your time and service.

Thank you to those who have self-reported at-home antigen tests. If you’re interested in antigen testing, the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department (WUPHD) is providing free antigen tests and vaccination clinics in October. More information is available on our COVID-19 Testing Information web page.

Walk-in, on-demand COVID-19 testing is available to Michigan Tech students and employees in the Datolite Room at the MUB on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. There is no cost to be tested, and no appointment is needed. 

We strongly encourage all members of our community to monitor themselves on a daily basis for symptoms of COVID-19. Please be aware that if you are exposed to COVID-19, quarantine guidelines vary depending on vaccination status.


MTU Flex Team Summary for the Week Ending October 8, 2021

by MTU Flex Task Force

Our moving 14-day total of detected COVID-19 cases stands at 25 active cases confirmed on campus. Houghton County has a seven-day average of 14 confirmed cases per day (as of Oct. 6). Please continue to report positive test results, whether you are using an at-home test or a PCR test outside of our Michigan Tech testing center, using the Report a COVID-19 Test form.

Our wastewater testing program is ongoing and results are consistent with the University’s confirmed case count. Less than 10 percent of our on-campus isolation space is currently occupied. 

We greatly appreciate those who have self-reported at-home antigen tests. If you’re interested in antigen testing, the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department (WUPHD) is providing free antigen tests and vaccination clinics in October. More information is available on our COVID-19 Testing Information web page.

Walk-in, on-demand COVID-19 testing is available to Michigan Tech students and employees in the Datolite Room at the MUB on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. There is no cost to be tested, and no appointment is needed. 

We strongly encourage all members of our community to monitor themselves on a daily basis for symptoms of COVID-19. Please be aware that if you are exposed to COVID-19, quarantine guidelines vary depending on vaccination status.


MTU Flex Team Summary for the Week Ending October 1, 2021

by MTU Flex Task Force

Our moving 14-day total of detected COVID-19 cases continues to be low, with 20 active cases confirmed on campus. Houghton County has a seven-day average of nine confirmed cases per day (as of Sept. 29). Please continue to report positive test results (whether you are using an at-home test or a PCR test outside of our Michigan Tech testing center) using the Report a COVID-19 Test form.

Our wastewater testing program is ongoing and results are consistent with the University’s confirmed case count. Less than 10 percent of our on-campus isolation space is currently occupied. 

We greatly appreciate those who have self-reported at-home antigen tests. If you’re interested in antigen testing, the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department (WUPHD) is providing free antigen tests and vaccination clinics in October. More information is available on our COVID-19 Testing Information web page.

Walk-in, on-demand COVID-19 testing is available to Michigan Tech students and employees in the Datolite Room at the MUB on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. There is no cost to be tested, and no appointment is needed. 

We strongly encourage all members of our community to monitor themselves on a daily basis for symptoms of COVID-19. Please be aware that if you are exposed to COVID-19, quarantine guidelines vary depending on vaccination status.


MTU Flex Team Summary for the Week Ending September 24, 2021

by MTU Flex Task Force

Our moving 14-day total of detected COVID-19 cases continues to be low, with 16 active cases confirmed on campus (this number was 47 at this time last year). Houghton County has a seven-day average of eight confirmed cases per day. Please continue to report positive test results (whether you are using an at-home test or a PCR test outside of our Michigan Tech testing center) using the Report a COVID-19 Test form.

Our wastewater testing program is ongoing and does not show significant viral presence on campus at this time. Less than 5 percent of our on-campus isolation space is currently occupied. We would like to thank the Husky community for your efforts to continue controlling the spread of COVID-19.

Walk-in, on-demand COVID-19 testing is available to Michigan Tech students and employees in the Datolite Room at the MUB on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. There is no cost to be tested, and no appointment is needed. Read more COVID-19 Testing Information on the MTU Flex website. Please be aware that if you are exposed to COVID-19, quarantine guidelines vary depending on vaccination status.


MTU Flex Team Summary for the Week Ending September 17, 2021

by MTU Flex Task Force

Our moving 14-day total of detected COVID-19 cases continues to be low, with 11 cases confirmed on campus (this number was 100 at this time last year). Houghton County has a seven-day average of five confirmed cases per day. Please continue to report positive test results (whether you are using an at-home test or a PCR test outside of our Michigan Tech testing center) using the Report a COVID-19 Test form.

Our wastewater testing program is on-going and does not show significant viral presence on campus at this time. Less than 10% of our on-campus isolation space (roughly 30-room total capacity) is currently occupied. We would like to thank the Husky community for its efforts to continue to control the spread of COVID-19.  

Walk-in, on-demand COVID-19 testing is available to Michigan Tech students and employees in the Datolite Room at the MUB on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. There is no cost to be tested, and no appointment is needed. Read more COVID-19 Testing Information on the MTU Flex website. Please be aware that if you are exposed to COVID-19, quarantine guidelines vary depending on vaccination status. 

We don’t expect immediate clarification on a number of President Biden’s testing and vaccination announcements from last week. We will update the University community as soon as we have additional information to share.

We appreciate your continued diligence in following the Health and Safety Level guidelines and for helping to keep the community safe. 


Modifications to Health and Safety Level Two

by MTU Flex Task Force

In August, as we prepared for students’ return to campus and factored in the uncertainty of the delta variant, our campus moved to Health and Safety Level Two, expecting to stay there for at least five weeks to monitor the spread of COVID-19 within our community. During these five weeks, you all did your part extraordinarily well—the number of confirmed cases on campus and the amount of virus detected in campus wastewater remains low thanks to you.

However, the situation in our local community is less clear. The Western Upper Peninsula Health Department and local health professionals continue to see the ongoing presence of the virus. While we would very much like to move the campus back to Health and Safety Level One, a somewhat more cautious route is appropriate at this time.

Therefore, Michigan Tech will move to a modified Level Two starting Saturday, September 18. Face coverings will still be required in classrooms and laboratories during classes and lab courses, and in the library. Face coverings may also be required during faculty office hours at the discretion of the individual faculty member. In all other settings, face coverings will be encouraged but not required. Face covering requirements for fully vaccinated close contacts, as listed in our Quarantine Guidelines, will remain in place.

Please allow time for the signage around campus to catch up—and remember that our MTU Flex plan is structured to be responsive to fluctuations in case count and other factors related to COVID-19. As always, should the local and/or on-campus variables change, we will reevaluate our Health and Safety Level accordingly.

We appreciate your continued diligence in following the Health and Safety Level guidelines and helping keep the community safe.


MTU Flex Team Summary for the Week Ending September 10, 2021

by MTU Flex Task Force

Our moving 14-day total of detected COVID-19 cases continues to be low, with less than 10 cases confirmed on campus. Cases remain low in Houghton County as well, with a seven-day average of two confirmed cases per day. Please continue to report positive test results using the Report a COVID-19 Test form.

Our wastewater testing program is on-going and does not show significant viral presence on campus at this time. Our on-campus isolation space is currently unoccupied. We would like to thank the Husky community for its efforts to continue to control the spread of COVID-19.

Walk-in, on-demand COVID-19 testing is available to Michigan Tech students and employees in the Datolite Room at the MUB on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. There is no cost to be tested, and no appointment is needed. Read more COVID-19 Testing Information on the MTU Flex website. Please be aware that if you are exposed to COVID-19, quarantine guidelines vary depending on vaccination status.

We are aware of the announcements made yesterday by President Biden regarding vaccination and testing, and we are waiting to read the various orders being prepared on those issues. We will update the University community as soon as we have additional information to share.

We appreciate your continued diligence in following the Health and Safety Level guidelines and for helping to keep the community safe.


MTU Flex Team Summary for the Week Ending September 3, 2021

by MTU Flex Task Force

Now that the fall semester has begun, we’re pleased to resume our weekly updates regarding the University’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Wastewater testing is underway and will be an important part of our multipronged mitigation effort this fall. The positive COVID-19 case count for our campus community will be updated weekly on the MTU Flex website. We ask that you please report positive test results using the Report a COVID-19 Test form.

We’ve received questions regarding the protocols for isolation and quarantine. Please refer to the Quarantine Guidelines Flowchart and send questions to mtuflex@mtu.edu. All on-campus isolation space is currently unoccupied.

We were pleased to see our on-campus vaccination clinics run smoothly this week. Thank you to those who participated. We will look into hosting more clinics once we have more information about the availability of a third-dose booster to the general public.

We appreciate your continued diligence in following the Health and Safety Level guidelines and for helping to keep the community safe.