Return to Campus: PPE

by University Marketing and Communications

Last week, Michigan Tech began Step Two of our Return to Campus Plan. As the University prepares for Step Three this fall, students and employees, understandably, have questions. Today, we discuss personal protective equipment (PPE). We spoke with Sarah Schulte, general counsel and secretary to the Board of Trustees, and Joel Isaacson, senior associate athletic director. Schulte says, “We’re asking everyone to Be Smart and Do Their Part, with an emphasis on Husky Spirit and a collective effort to protect those most vulnerable in our community.” Isaacson added, “We are all in this together as we work towards reopening campus this fall. PPE is an important part of our return to campus plan and we are asking everyone to help do their part to make campus as safe as possible.”

Q: When are faculty to wear a mask versus a shield?

SS: Faculty will be expected to wear face coverings to and from class, and will be permitted to wear specially designed face shields while teaching. The face shields will allow for better airflow, allow students to see the instructor’s face and will be equipped with headsets to enable remote learning for those students who are not able to be in the classroom. The team working on these classroom-based mitigations will continue to review new information and make changes where necessary.  

JI: The shields will also allow faculty members the flexibility to move and instruct in their traditional manner versus locked in behind a plexiglass barrier. 

Q: What plans are in place to promote face-covering compliance amongst the university as a whole?

JI: We’ll be rolling out a social norming campaign the first week of July focusing on educating the community on social responsibilities. We’re asking the University community to hold themselves and, where appropriate, each other accountable. We are all leaders setting the daily standard on campus. 

SS: Now, and when students return to campus, face coverings are required to be worn by everyone while indoors, unless you are working alone in your own office. Face coverings are also required outdoors when six-foot distancing cannot be maintained. That said, not everyone is able to medically tolerate face coverings and we ask you to always assume the best of people. If you are the supervisor of someone who is not in compliance with the face covering protocol, please provide them with a face covering and ask them to follow the protocol, emphasizing the leadership role we all play in setting the social standard across campus. If they are not able to medically tolerate a face mask, please refer them to the ADA Coordinator for an appropriate accommodation, which will vary by person.   

If you are interacting with someone who is not in compliance with the face covering protocol and you are not their supervisor, please feel free to let them know where they are able to obtain one. Students and employees may obtain a face covering by calling Public Safety and Police Services at 906-487-2216. If you have concerns regarding ongoing interactions with someone not in compliance, please email mtuflex@mtu.edu.  

Q: What should faculty do if students are not following protocols?

SS: If a student does not have a mask they must leave the class otherwise the class is dismissed. Please remember that buffs, gaiters, bandanas and similar face coverings are permitted — the covering does not need to be a “mask.” If a student indicates they are unable to medically tolerate a face covering, please ask them to contact Student Disability Services. You may use your discretion as to whether to ask a student to leave class the first time this issue arises. Please report any chronic concerns regarding students to the Dean of Students office, as you would with other student-related concerns.  

Q: What is the plan for monitoring students in the resident halls regarding following protocols?

SS: Residential Life will be working to educate students on the importance of face coverings in common areas of residence halls and will work through any compliance issues as they arise. 

JI: Again, we will ask our Residential Life staff to lead by example for our students, educating them on the proper uses of PPE and how wearing a face covering will help stop the spread.


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