Author: Megan Ross

MTU Flex Team Summary for the Week Ending April 16, 2021

by MTU Flex Task Force

The moving 14-day total of detected COVID-19 cases is 29, compared to eight last week. We conducted 161 surveillance tests this week, with three detected cases, for a detection rate of 1.90 percent. Currently, 10 percent of on-campus isolation space is in use and the campus remains at Health and Safety Level Three.

We’re pleased to let you know that Michigan Tech’s COVID-19 vaccine clinics for students will still be held April 20-22, in partnership with Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center (UGL). The clinics will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the SDC varsity gym and students will receive the first dose of the Moderna vaccine. Students interested in participating can find more information, including how to schedule an appointment, on our COVID-19 Vaccine web page.

Students should schedule their appointments as soon as possible, as there is high demand for the vaccine and a limited number of appointments. We are working with UGL to determine how best to make the second Moderna dose available to students, and we will provide that information as soon as we have it.

As a reminder, under our current Health and Safety Level Protocolthe University’s face covering policy applies to everyone on campus, regardless of vaccination status. Please continue to wear your face covering, even if you are vaccinated.


MTU Flex Team Summary for the Week Ending April 9, 2021

by MTU Flex Task Force

The moving 14-day total of detected COVID-19 cases is eight, compared to 10 last week. We conducted 153 surveillance tests this week, with one detected case, for a detection rate of .70 percent. Currently, less than 6 percent of on-campus isolation space is in use and the campus remains at Health and Safety Level Three.

We announced yesterday that the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department (WUPHD) will hold mass community vaccination clinics using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at the SDC on Thursday, April 15, and Thursday, April 29. To make an appointment, sign up for the WUPHD COVID Vaccine Waitlist. The WUPHD is scheduling all appointments for these and other clinics in the community. 

Those interested in volunteering at the community clinics are asked to please contact Brian Cadwell at bjcadwel@mtu.edu. Volunteers will receive vaccinations if desired.

In addition, Michigan Tech is partnering with Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center (UGL) to hold vaccine clinics for students April 20-22, also with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The clinics will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the SDC. Students received a one-question poll today, either via text message or email, to gauge their interest in participating. We ask students to please take the poll as soon as possible. Information about scheduling a vaccination clinic appointment will be shared with students early next week.

Many other health care providers and pharmacies in the community are currently offering COVID-19 vaccinations. Information is available online. As of April 5, all Michigan residents 16 and older are eligible to be vaccinated.

As a reminder, under our current Health and Safety Level Protocolthe University’face covering policy applies to everyone on campus, regardless of vaccination status. Please continue to wear your face covering, even if you are vaccinated.


MTU Flex Team Summary for the Week Ending April 2, 2021

by MTU Flex Task Force

The moving 14-day total of detected COVID-19 cases is 10, compared to 13 last week. We conducted 210 surveillance tests this week, with one detected case, for a detection rate of .50 percent. Currently, less than 5 percent of on-campus isolation space is in use.

To ensure we continue to see adequate turnout for surveillance testing, we announced yesterday that, starting this week and continuing through the end of the spring semester, all students participating in surveillance testing will be entered into a drawing for one of three potential prizes:

  1. Two center-ice tickets to all home hockey games next season, plus one hockey jersey
  2. A $250 gift card to the bookstore
  3. A preferred parking pass for Lot 11 or a predetermined metered space on campus for the entire 2021-22 academic year

The drawing will occur and winners will be notified during finals week.  

As a reminder, under our current Health and Safety Level Protocolthe University’s face covering policy applies to everyone on campus, regardless of vaccination status. Please continue to wear your face covering, even if you are vaccinated.


MTU Flex Team Summary for the Week Ending March 26, 2021

by MTU Flex Task Force

The moving 14-day total of detected COVID-19 cases is 13, compared to 14 last week. We conducted 716 surveillance tests this week, with one detected case, for a detection rate of .10 percent. Currently, 8 percent of on-campus isolation space is in use.

Under our current Health and Safety Level Protocolthe University’s face covering policy applies to everyone on campus, regardless of vaccination status. Please continue to wear your face covering, even if you are vaccinated.

Huskies, we are grateful to those of you who participated in the Post-Spring Break Testing Clinics and who continue to do your part to keep our campus safe. We know many of you are feeling the stress that comes at the end of the semester, and some of you have let us know you’re tired of participating in surveillance testing. We understand—this has been a long haul. We have almost reached the finish line, though, and we need you to lean into your grit and tenacity. Please keep showing up when asked to get tested. Help us keep our campus open and our community safe for the rest of the spring semester. 

As noted in last week’s digest, we know many of you have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine and when it will become available. One of the best resources for Western UP vaccine information is the Copper Country Strong website. Additionally, we have created a vaccine information web page and FAQs intended to be specific to the Michigan Tech community. We will continue to update the web page and FAQs as more information becomes available. You may also want to review our vaccine updates from January 26 and March 4


MTU Flex Team Summary for the Week Ending March 19, 2021

by MTU Flex Task Force

The moving 14-day total of detected COVID-19 cases is 14, compared to 25 the week ending March 5, which was the week before spring break. We did not conduct surveillance testing this week in anticipation of our Post-Spring Break Testing Clinics (more on this below). Currently, 6 percent of on-campus isolation space is in use. 

We know many of you have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine and when it will become available. While answers to these questions are still a bit unclear, our goal is always to share updates and information with you as soon as possible. Please review our vaccine updates from January 26 and March 4. One of the best resources for Western UP vaccine information is the Copper Country Strong website. Additionally, we have created a vaccine information web page and FAQs intended to be specific to the Michigan Tech community. We will continue to update the web page and FAQs as more information becomes available. 

Our Post-Spring Break Testing Clinics begin this afternoon. If you are a student who traveled outside Houghton County during spring break, we strongly encourage you to participate. The Clinics run until March 23 in the SDC varsity gym. There’s no need to schedule an appointment—feel free to show up anytime during your testing window: 

  • Daniell Heights Apartments: Friday, March 19, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Off-campus graduate students: Friday, March 19, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Wadsworth Hall: Saturday, March 20, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Douglass Houghton Hall: Sunday, March 21, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Hillside Place: Sunday, March 21, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • West and East McNair: Sunday, March 21, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Off-campus undergraduates with last names A-K: Monday, March 22, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Off-campus undergraduates with last names L-Z: Tuesday, March 23, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.


Fall Plans

by Rick Koubek, President

I would like to take a moment to recognize and thank you for your shared commitment to the continued success of Michigan Tech. Together, we have made tremendous sacrifices in the way we work and live in response to the pandemic.

Over the past year, we have proven that we can create a healthy and safe on-campus experience for our students, faculty, and staff, and that we can adapt in response to rapidly changing environments. We have also learned that technology alone cannot replace the experiential learning that happens in classrooms, labs, residence halls, and beyond. This, coupled with the promising news of a nationwide COVID-19 vaccine program, gives us the impetus to resume normal operations once those in our campus community become eligible for vaccination. 

Accordingly, Michigan Tech plans to host in-person classes and extracurricular activities this fall. However, we realize that faculty may choose to continue delivering components of their courses through the creative use of technology, particularly if it results in better educational outcomes. 

We’ve also grown accustomed to working remotely, so I can appreciate that this transition requires yet another adjustment. Over the coming months, University leadership will explore updates to our remote work policy. In the meantime, I encourage us all to exercise flexibility and understanding as we return to campus to fulfill our job duties once the work from home emergency order expires. 

As we continue to emphasize, the health and safety of our campus remains top priority. Therefore, we will continue to offer on-demand COVID-19 testing and follow the guidelines outlined in our MTU Flex plan for the remainder of the spring semester. 

Thank you again for all you do for our students, our campus, and our community. 


MTU Flex Team Summary for the Week Ending March 5, 2021

by MTU Flex Task Force

The moving 14-day total of detected COVID-19 cases is 25 as of today, compared to 45 last week. Our weekly surveillance detection rate remains low, at 1 percent. We increased on-demand testing for students this week in anticipation of spring break, and between March 1 and 5, we conducted 253 non-surveillance tests, with only two detected cases in that time period. Currently, 2 percent of on-campus isolation space is in use.

On-demand testing will be available for students the week following spring break (March 15-18). However, if you are a student who travels outside Houghton County during spring break, we strongly encourage you to participate in our Post-Spring Break Testing Clinics instead of scheduling an on-demand test. The Clinics will run from March 19-23 in the SDC varsity gym. There’s no need to schedule an appointment—feel free to show up anytime during your testing window:

  • Daniell Heights Apartments: Friday, March 19, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Off-campus graduate students: Friday, March 19, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Wadsworth Hall: Saturday, March 20, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Douglass Houghton Hall: Sunday, March 21, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Hillside Place: Sunday, March 21, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • West and East McNair: Sunday, March 21, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Off-campus undergraduates with last names A-K: Monday, March 22, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Off-campus undergraduates with last names L-Z: Tuesday, March 23, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Please check out the MTU Flex blog for tips on traveling safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. Also check out last week’s digest for information on what to do when you return to campus after traveling domestically or internationally during the break.

Thank you, and enjoy spring break!


Update to COVID-19 Vaccine Protocol

by MTU Flex Task Force

As COVID-19 vaccines become more available, the MTU Flex Task Force looks to update the Michigan Tech Community on the status of vaccine distribution. New updates to our Health and Safety Levels protocol will go into effect tomorrow (March 5), including guidance for vaccinated persons.

How is vaccine distribution being prioritized?

Prioritization is set by the State of Michigan and includes these priority groups:

  • 1A — Health care workers and long-term care residents and employees.
  • 1B — Those age 75+; prioritized frontline responders; pre-K-12 school and child care staff; corrections staff; agriculture and food processing workers; other essential frontline workers.
  • 1C — Persons age 65-74; those age 18-64 with COVID-19 risk factors/pre-existing conditions; and all remaining essential workers.
  • 2 — Everyone else.

The State of Michigan has determined that those 65 and older may receive the vaccine at this time. Of the 1C group, only ages 65-74 are currently being vaccinated, with vaccination running concurrently with the top of the 1B group. The governor is also expanding eligibility to individuals over 50 with health risks or those who care for someone with health risks effective March 8. On March 20, eligibility will be extended to all those 50 and over.

What is the timeline for vaccinations?

The State is hoping to move to the remainder of the 1B group and those in 1C with preexisting conditions on or around May 1. It is also planning to be able to offer the vaccine to the remainder of 1C this summer, with Phase 2 hopefully beginning in late summer. 

Will the University be vaccinating employees?

Information regarding vaccine clinics will be provided to supervisors as their employees become eligible and the vaccine is available. However, employees do not need to wait for a vaccine clinic on our campus — they may obtain the vaccine elsewhere. Information on how to obtain the vaccine is available from several sources. Additional information is available at Copper Country Strong

In addition, veterans may be able to obtain a vaccine through the VA and tribal members may be eligible to receive vaccine through their tribal health program. Providers tell us that additional slots are opening up all the time, so if you are 65+ and have not yet been vaccinated, you should be able to get in soon.

Remember, Michigan Tech is not requiring employees or students to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. There is no need to report your vaccination to the University if you receive it at a location other than a Michigan Tech vaccine clinic. We want to make the vaccine widely available to all of our students, faculty and staff as soon as possible, and we will continue to make this a priority as long as the need remains.

What should I do after I have been vaccinated?

Beginning tomorrow (March 5), MTU employees and students who have received all recommended doses of the COVID-19 vaccine at least two weeks prior should follow these protocols:  

  • Continue to complete the Daily Symptom Tracking Form prior to coming to campus.
  • Continue to wear a face covering on campus and follow other campuswide health and safety protocols and guidelines.
  • If you come into close contact with a person known or suspected to have COVID-19, and you do not have symptoms of COVID-19, you do not need to quarantine or report your contact, and you may come to campus, unless advised otherwise by your health care provider or the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department.
  • At any time, if you experience symptoms of COVID-19, you need to remain away from campus until you are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and any other symptoms are improving. 

All questions should be directed to mtuflex@mtu.edu.


Spring Break Prep: Notes from the MTU Flex Team

by MTU Flex Task Force

Our spring semester surveillance testing program is well underway. Between February 20 and 26, we conducted 338 tests and detected two cases, for a positivity rate of 0.60 percent. Our 14-day moving total, which includes non-surveillance test results, is 45 detected cases. Currently, less than 7 percent of on-campus isolation space is being used.

With spring break coming up fast, the University is offering on-demand, asymptomatic testing for students next week, March 1-5. Space is limited, so students should schedule a test as soon as possible by texting Hello to 906-257-9677 and following the prompts. Those who do not have access to texting can schedule an appointment by calling Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center at 906-483-1860.

On-demand testing will also be available for students the week following spring break (March 15-18). And, we’re organizing Post-Spring Break Testing Clinics starting March 19. We ask that students who travel during break take part in these clinics instead of scheduling an on-demand test. More information on post-spring break testing will be provided soon. Information on asymptomatic testing for employees is available on the COVID-19 Testing Information for Employees web page.

Please check out the MTU Flex blog for tips on traveling safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you travel domestically during spring break (outside Houghton County but within the United States), Michigan Tech needs you to limit your social activity for seven days after travel and monitor yourself for symptoms. The CDC has extensive post-travel recommendations—check them out. (Please keep in mind that limiting your social activity refers to activities outside the classroom. You are permitted to go to class.) 

If you travel internationally, you are required to remain away from campus for 14 days after you return, as outlined in our Health and Safety Levels Protocol. Michigan Tech strongly encourages students and employees to quarantine during this period and get tested five to seven days after international travel.

Finally, no matter your destination, please consider taking the following precautions after you return from travel to protect others from COVID-19:

  • Avoid crowds and stay at least six feet from anyone who did not travel with you. It’s important to do this everywhere—indoors and outdoors.
  • Wear a face covering over your nose and mouth in public.
  • If any people in your household did not travel with you, wear a face covering—and ask everyone in the household to wear one too—in shared spaces inside your home for 14 days after travel.
  • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness.
  • Monitor yourself for symptoms of COVID-19.


COVID-19 Vaccinations: What MTU Employees Should Know

by MTU Flex Task Force

Earlier this year distribution of COVID-19 vaccines began. In the wake of the initial vaccinations, there are a lot of questions. The obvious question from most in the campus community is “When can I get vaccinated?”

Sarah Schulte, general counsel and secretary to the Board of Trustees, answers some of the questions employees and others may have in the following Q&A.

Q: Does the University have a vaccination plan?

SS: Michigan Tech is committed to making it as easy as possible for our employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and is working regularly with the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department (WUPHD) and local health care providers to understand vaccine availability and distribution in our area.

Q: How will they prioritize who gets the vaccine and when?

SS: Prioritization is set by the State of Michigan and includes these priority groups:

  • 1A — Health care workers and long-term care residents and employees
  • 1B — Essential front-line workers
  • 1C — Other essential workers
  • 2 — Everyone else

Michigan Tech and the WUPHD are currently determining which of our employees fit within each vaccine priority group. Due to the increased risk of severe illness in older individuals, the State of Michigan has also determined that those 65 and older may receive the vaccine at this time — running that group concurrent with the top of the 1B group. 

Q: What is the timeline for vaccinations?

SS: Earlier this month, in partnership with the WUPHD, we were able to hold our first vaccine clinic for those at the top of the 1B category, including COVID-19 lab employees, medical first responders and our police officers, as well as some local preschool teachers. We are hopeful that soon the amount of vaccine in our area will be sufficient to enable us to partner with either the WUPHD or a local health care provider to distribute additional vaccine in accordance with the state’s prioritized levels.

Q: Will the University be vaccinating employees?

SS: Information regarding vaccine clinics will be provided to supervisors as their employees become eligible and vaccine is available. However, employees do not need to wait for a vaccine clinic on our campus — they may obtain the vaccine elsewhere. Information on how to obtain the vaccine is available from several sources, including WUPHDUpper Great Lakes Family Health CenterAspirus and UP Health System – Portage. At this time, we are hopeful that we will be vaccinating priority group 1C (Beyond the 65+ age group) by late spring. But that will be determined by vaccine availability.

Q: Will MTU employees be required to get the vaccine?

SS: Michigan Tech is not requiring any employees or students to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and there is no need to report your vaccination to the University if you receive it at a location other than a Michigan Tech vaccine clinic. We want to make the vaccine widely available to all of our students, faculty and staff as soon as possible, and we will continue to make this a priority as long as the need remains.

Q: Once I have been vaccinated, will I still have to wear a face covering and follow other COVID-19 protocols?

SS: Yes, employees who have received the COVID-19 vaccine still need to follow all COVID-19 campus protocols. This includes social distancing, wearing a face covering, and daily symptom monitoring prior to arriving on campus.

Here is the response from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the topic:

“Not enough information is currently available to say if or when the CDC will stop recommending that people wear masks and avoid close contact with others to help prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.

Experts need to understand more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide in real-world conditions before making that decision. Other factors, including how many people get vaccinated and how the virus is spreading in communities, will also affect this decision. We also don’t yet know whether getting a COVID-19 vaccine will prevent you from spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 to other people, even if you don’t get sick yourself. CDC will continue to update this page as we learn more.

While experts learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions, it will be important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to help stop this pandemic.

To protect yourself and others, follow these recommendations:

  • Wear a mask over your nose and mouth
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others
  • Avoid crowds
  • Avoid poorly ventilated spaces
  • Wash your hands often

Together, COVID-19 vaccination and following CDC’s recommendations for how to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from getting and spreading COVID-19.

Q: Who do we contact if we have more questions?

SS: All questions may be emailed to mtuflex@mtu.edu.