Author: Megan Ross

Health and Safety Level Update

by Rick Koubek, President

Thank you for the responsiveness, respect, and collective concern each of you has exhibited over the last two years. With the wide availability of the COVID-19 vaccine, low hospitalization rates and the accumulated knowledge and processes in place to fight future outbreaks if needed, it is now appropriate to move to longer-term solutions. 

Consequently, beginning on Friday, February 25, 2022, at 5:00 p.m., Michigan Tech will move to Health and Safety Level One. Face coverings will continue to be encouraged, but not required, on campus. COVID-19 on-demand testing for our campus community, isolation space for those living on campus and wastewater testing will continue at least through the end of the semester. KN95 masks are available while supplies last. Tech Flex emails will no longer be sent weekly, but as needed. 

Again, thank you for your efforts.


MTU Flex Team Update for February 11, 2022

by MTU Flex Task Force

Our moving 14-day total of detected COVID-19 cases stands at 47 active cases confirmed, down from 73 on Wednesday, February 9. Houghton County has a seven-day average of 14 confirmed cases per day (as of February 9). On-campus isolation is currently housing fewer than 10 individuals.  

Walk-in Vaccinations at the Health Department

The Western Upper Peninsula Health Department is now offering free walk-in vaccinations each Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at its Water Street Clinic, located at 821 Water St. in Hancock. Ages 18 or older can participate. First doses, second doses, and boosters of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are available. 

KN95s Still Available 

Michigan Tech still has close to 3,000 disposable KN95 face coverings available to students and employees. The University is offering this limited supply of KN95s to assist those who have not yet been able to purchase them. We are happy to provide up to two KN95s per person while supplies last. Distribution locations and instructions for larger pickups are listed on the MTU Flex Updates Blog

On-demand Testing

COVID-19 on-demand testing is available to Michigan Tech students and employees during the spring 2022 semester. Testing is currently offered Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Rozsa Center basement. All testing is done on a walk-in basis—no appointments are needed and there is no cost. The consent form can be filled out online between 8:30 a.m and 1 p.m. on the day you get tested.

Antigen Tests for Employees

A limited supply of antigen tests at the Department of Public Safety and Police Services are available for employees who become symptomatic during their shift. Tests will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis. The MTU Flex Team is currently looking to secure more antigen tests and will provide more information when they are available. 

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 Update for February 4, 2022

by MTU Flex Task Force

Our moving 14-day total of detected COVID-19 cases stands at 114 active cases confirmed, down from 181 on Wednesday, February 2. Houghton County has a seven-day average of 30 confirmed cases per day (as of February 2). On-campus isolation is currently housing fewer than 10 individuals.

KN95s Still Available

Michigan Tech still has close to 5,000 disposable KN95 face coverings available to students and employees. The University is offering this limited supply of KN95s to assist those who have not yet been able to purchase them. We are happy to provide up to two KN95s per person while supplies last.

Distribution locations are:

  • SDC Ticket Office
  • Wads Front Desk
  • DHH Front Desk
  • McNair Front Desk
  • Library Circulation Desk
  • Campus Bookstore
  • Public Safety and Police Services
  • Waino Wahtera Center for Student Success

If departments wish to coordinate a single pickup for a larger work group, please email campusstore@mtu.edu with your department name, the quantity of KN95s needed (up to two per person), and the name of the person who will be picking them up. The Campus Bookstore will confirm when your order is ready to be picked up. Free surgical-style face coverings, donated through Ford, are also still available to departments through Chem Stores.

Wastewater Sampling

Our wastewater testing program is ongoing and results have returned to being consistent with the University’s confirmed lower case count.

On-demand Testing

COVID-19 on-demand testing is available to Michigan Tech students and employees during the spring 2022 semester. Testing is currently offered Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Rozsa Center basement. All testing is done on a walk-in basis—no appointments are needed and there is no cost. The consent form can be filled out online between 8:30 a.m and 1 p.m. on the day you get tested. 

Free At-home Tests

Each residential address in the US can order one set of four free at-home tests from USPS. Students in residence halls can place one order per room to share if interested. Students should include their building name, street address, and room number in the online form.

Antigen Tests for Employees

Additionally, a limited supply of antigen tests at the Department of Public Safety and Police Services are available for employees who become symptomatic during their shift. Tests will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis. The MTU Flex Team is currently looking to secure more antigen tests and will provide more information when they are available.

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 Update for January 28, 2022

by MTU Flex Task Force

Our moving 14-day total of detected COVID-19 cases stands at 235 active cases confirmed, down from 263 on Wednesday, January 26. Houghton County has a seven-day average of 63 confirmed cases per day (as of January 26). On-campus isolation is currently housing 16 individuals.  

KN95s Still Available

Michigan Tech has close to 5,000 disposable KN95 face coverings still available to students and employees. The University is offering this limited supply of KN95s to assist those who have not yet been able to purchase them. We are happy to provide up to two KN95s per person while supplies last.  Distribution locations are:

  • SDC Ticket Office
  • Wads Front Desk
  • DHH Front Desk
  • McNair Front Desk
  • Library Circulation Desk
  • Campus Bookstore
  • Public Safety and Police Services
  • Waino Wahtera Center for Student Success

If departments wish to coordinate a single pickup for a larger work group, please email campusstore@mtu.edu with your department name, the quantity of KN95s needed (up to two per person), and the name of the person who will be picking them up. The Campus Bookstore will confirm when your order is ready to be picked up. Free surgical-style face coverings, donated through Ford, are also still available to departments through Chem Stores.

Wastewater Sampling

Wastewater sampling continues, and this week wastewater results showed less viral load than what would be expected with the confirmed cases we have on campus. This is not unique to Michigan Tech. Other universities and some city and state officials have seen similar trends in their wastewater sampling. While more analysis is needed to determine why this is happening, higher vaccination rates and changing infection dynamics, such as a shorter duration of infection and less overall shedding of the virus, could be factors.

On-demand Testing

COVID-19 on-demand testing is available to Michigan Tech students and employees during the spring 2022 semester. Testing is currently offered Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Rozsa Center basement. All testing is done on a walk-in basis—no appointments are needed and there is no cost. The consent form can be filled out online between 8:30 a.m and 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday on the day you get tested.

Free At-home Tests

Each residential address in the US can order one set of four free at-home tests from USPS. Students in residence halls can place one order per room to share if interested. Students should include their building name, street address, and room number in the online form.

Antigen Tests for Employees

Additionally, a limited supply of antigen tests at the Department of Public Safety and Police Services are available for employees who become symptomatic during their shift. Tests will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis. The MTU Flex Team is currently looking to secure more antigen tests and will provide more information when they are available.

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 Update for January 21, 2022 — KN95s available to students and employees starting today

by MTU Flex Task Force

Beginning today, a limited supply (10,000) of disposable KN95 face coverings are available to students and employees on a first-come, first-served basis. The University is offering this limited supply to assist those who would like to wear high-filtration face coverings but have not yet been able to purchase them. We are happy to provide up to two KN95s per person while supplies last.

Distribution locations are:

  • SDC Ticket Office
  • Wads Front Desk
  • DHH Front Desk
  • McNair Front Desk
  • Library Circulation Desk
  • Campus Bookstore
  • Public Safety and Police Services
  • Waino Wahtera Center for Student Success

If departments wish to coordinate a single pickup for a larger work group, please email campusstore@mtu.edu with your department name, the quantity of KN95s needed (up to two per person), and the name of the person who will be picking them up. The Campus Bookstore will confirm when your order is ready to be picked up. Free surgical-style face coverings, donated through Ford, are also still available to departments through Chem Stores. 

Case Totals and Averages

Our moving 14-day total of detected COVID-19 cases stands at 359 active cases confirmed, from 291 on Wednesday, January 19. Houghton County has a seven-day average of 78 confirmed cases per day (as of January 19). On-campus isolation is currently housing 31 individuals. We are now updating the Michigan Tech COVID-19 Testing Statistics website twice a week on Wednesdays and Fridays.

Wastewater sampling began again on Monday, January 17, and wastewater results are in line with the Rozsa testing clinic’s results regarding the prevalence of the virus on campus. 

Friday Testing

Next Friday, January 28, on-demand testing will be available in the basement of the Rozsa from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. All testing will be done on a walk-in basis—no appointments will be needed and there will be no cost. Results will be emailed and are typically available within 24-48 hours. The consent form can be filled out online between 8:30 a.m and 11 a.m. next Friday. 

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

Free At-home Tests for Students

Each residential address in the US can order one set of four free at-home tests from USPS. Students in residence halls can place one order per room to share if interested. Students should include their building name, street address, and room number in the online form.

Antigen Tests for Employees

Additionally, a limited supply of antigen tests at the Department of Public Safety and Police Services are available for employees who become symptomatic during their shift. Tests will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis. The MTU Flex Team is currently looking to secure more antigen tests and will provide more information when they are available.

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 Update for January 19, 2022 – Friday testing available this week and next

by MTU Flex Task Force

Friday on-demand testing in the basement of the Rozsa has been added from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. for this Friday, January 21, and next Friday, January 29. All testing will be done on a walk-in basis—no appointments will be needed and there will be no cost. Results will be emailed and are typically available within 24-48 hours. The consent form can be filled out online between 8:30 a.m and 1 p.m. on the day you get tested.

Our moving 14-day total of detected COVID-19 cases stands at 291 active cases confirmed, up from 255 last Friday, January 14. Houghton County has a seven-day average of 66 confirmed cases per day (as of January 14). On-campus isolation is currently housing 15 individuals, peaking at 24 late last week. Wastewater sampling began on Monday and results should be available by this Friday’s end-of-the-week MTU Flex summary. We are updating the Michigan Tech COVID-19 Testing Statistics website twice a week on Wednesdays and Fridays.  

During this omicron variant wave, a number of factors will drive an increase in reported cases. Foremost is the high transmissibility of this variant. Other factors include over three times the testing capacity in our testing center compared to last year and an uptick in self-reported tests due to increased availability of at-home antigen tests. 

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

A limited supply of antigen tests at the Department of Public Safety and Police Services are available for employees who become symptomatic during their shift. Tests will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis. The MTU Flex Team is currently looking to secure more antigen tests and will provide more information when they are available.  

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.


Important Updates for the Start of the Spring Semester

by MTU Flex Task Force

Happy New Year! We are looking forward to students returning to campus on January 10 for in-person classes. The Michigan Tech campus remains at Health and Safety Level Two, which means face coverings are required indoors, just like at the end of the fall semester. Given the current spread of the omicron variant throughout the United States (more on this below), it remains important to comply with our health and safety protocols and wear face coverings whenever indoors, regardless of vaccination status.

If you are traveling back to Houghton and have the opportunity to get tested for COVID-19 before you arrive, we strongly encourage you to do so.

With the omicron variant rapidly spreading throughout the country and world, the weeks ahead are hard to predict, and faculty and staff are preparing for possible disruptions. While breakthrough cases are more common with this variant, current data indicates that being vaccinated, including receiving a booster if you are eligible, helps to mitigate the severity of cases.

Please be aware that the CDC routinely updates its guidance regarding isolation and quarantine periods as more information becomes available about the spread of COVID-19 and its variants. The last update took effect on December 27, 2021, and we strongly encourage you to familiarize yourself with the specifics, as vaccination and booster status may impact the length of your quarantine period if you are exposed to the virus.

On-campus COVID-19 testing will resume on Monday, January 10. Testing hours have expanded and the testing location has changed for the spring semester. Testing will take place in the Rozsa Center basement each week, Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. We are also increasing daily testing capacity from 100 samples a day to 300. We will deliver samples to the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department (WUPHD) at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. each day testing is offered. When capacity permits, community members whose samples are included in the 11 a.m. delivery may receive their results on the same day.

Additionally, we are moving toward using an online consent form for sample collection. This means fewer forms to fill out at the testing site, which means quicker lines. We will also have both self-swab and administered swabs available. Non-EMS personnel will be on hand to assist with self-swabs.

Finally, Michigan Tech will be offering the second of two on-campus COVID-19 vaccine clinics from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, January 12, in the Rozsa Center lobby. This clinic will be open to all faculty, staff, and students, as well as the general public. Both the Moderna and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines will be available for first, second, third, and booster doses for anyone age 12 or older. Please schedule your appointment online. The clinic will be operated by the Michigan National Guard in conjunction with the WUPHD and Michigan Tech.

Please send any questions to mtuflex@mtu.edu. Thank you for your ongoing support and cooperation in stemming the spread of COVID-19. We’re looking forward to a great semester.


MTU Flex Team Summary for the Week Ending December 17, 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 14 confirmed cases per day (as of December 15). 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. None of our on-campus isolation space is currently occupied.

Testing on Michigan Tech’s campus has concluded for the fall 2021 semester. The last day of testing was Dec. 16. For COVID-19 testing during winter break, please reach out to a local health care provider to schedule a test. You do not need to have a preexisting relationship with the health care provider in order to get tested.

Local sites offering COVID-19 testing can be found using the state of Michigan’s Find a Test Site web page. More COVID-19 Testing Information for the Michigan Tech community is available on the MTU Flex website.

Please remember that a vaccination clinic is scheduled for January 12, 2022 in the Rozsa Center lobby. The clinic will be open to all faculty, staff, and students, as well as the general public, and a reminder will be emailed when appointments become available. Both the Moderna and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines will be available for first, second, additional, and booster doses for anyone age 12 or older. Registration information regarding that clinic will be provided soon.

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 December 10, 2021

by MTU Flex Task Force

Our moving 14-day total of detected COVID-19 cases stands at 67 active cases confirmed on campus. Houghton County has a seven-day average of 23 confirmed cases per day (as of December 8). 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. Approximately 14 percent of our on-campus isolation space was occupied as of 10 a.m. this morning.

Walk-in, on-demand COVID-19 testing is available Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday in the Datolite Room at the MUB from 9 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. There is no cost to be tested and no appointment is needed. COVID-19 testing will conclude for the fall semester on December 16 and will resume in the spring semester.

In the spring 2022 semester, COVID-19 samples collected through on-campus testing will begin being processed by the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department’s lab, following the winding down of the Michigan Tech COVID-19 Testing Lab’s operations.

Coming online in the early days of this pandemic, MTU’s testing lab provided critical sample processing at a time when statewide capacity was minimal (many samples from the UP at that time were transported to Lansing for processing). At one point, MTU’s lab processed the most tests per day in the state. The Michigan Tech Flex team extends deep appreciation to the COVID-19 lab team, including but not limited to Caryn Heldt, David Dixon, Cary Gottlieb, Dave Reed, Carsten Kuelheim, Stephen Techtmann, Jennifer Sanders, Cathy Jenich, Karl Meingast, Brooke Goulette, Mike Abbott, Natasha Chopp, Emmett Golde, and Karyn Fay.

Thank you to those who participated in our December 8 vaccination clinic in the Rozsa Center lobby. A follow-up clinic is scheduled for January 12, 2022, also in the Rozsa Center lobby. The January clinic will be open to all faculty, staff, and students, as well as the general public, and a reminder will be emailed when appointments become available. Both the Moderna and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines will be available for first, second, additional, and booster doses for anyone age 12 or older. Registration information regarding that clinic will be provided soon.

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.


Injunction Issued for Federal Contractor Vaccination Mandate

by Rick Koubek, President

Over the past several weeks, our employees have worked diligently to comply with the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force requirements for federal contractors and subcontractors that required employees to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or receive a medical or religious exception with the University.

Yesterday, a federal court issued a nationwide preliminary injunction that stops the federal government from enforcing the federal contractor vaccination/exception mandate pending further judicial review.

In light of this development, Michigan Tech will pause the implementation of the federal contractor vaccination/exception mandate, including the religious and medical exception process, until there is further legal clarity from the federal court system. If and when the mandate goes back into effect, vaccine compliance, as well as religious and medical exceptions already granted, will take effect, and exceptions will be available for those who have not yet completed the process.

We continue to encourage our employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and will host another vaccine clinic on January 12. In the meantime, the MTU Flex Task Force will keep the campus community updated as the situation develops, and the Michigan Tech campus will remain at Health and Safety Level Two.

Thank you again for your continued commitment to the health and well-being of our campus community.