Category: Academic Experience

Transition to Health and Safety Level Two

by Rick Koubek, President

Since the onset of the pandemic, we have worked to create a healthy and safe on-campus experience for our students, faculty, and staff—one that we can flex in response to rapidly changing environments. We have also learned that technology (while great) cannot replace the experiential learning that happens in classrooms, labs, residence halls, and beyond. For these reasons, we are delighted to welcome our students back to campus for a normal start to the fall semester.

To best ensure the continuity of campus operations, Michigan Tech strongly recommends that all employees and students receive the COVID-19 vaccine, especially in light of the virulence of the COVID-19 delta variant.

With all of this in mind and out of an abundance of caution, Michigan Tech will return to Health and Safety Level Two as outlined in our MTU Flex plan, effective August 15, 2021, for at least five weeks. This includes reinstating an indoor face covering requirement for all faculty, staff, students, and visitors (regardless of vaccination status).

During the first few weeks of the semester, we will continue to review available data to inform our pandemic mitigation strategy. Our hope is that Michigan Tech’s face covering requirement is short-term. Our goal is to return to a face-covering-optional environment once we have more information regarding the spread of COVID-19 within our campus community. 

In the meantime, I ask that you continue to do your part to help keep our campus and community safe. I look forward to seeing you all on campus soon. 

Michigan Tech Will Move to Health and Safety Level Two Tomorrow

by MTU Flex Task Force

Following guidance from the CDC, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) issued updated workplace guidelines today. In light of this guidance, the University will move to Health and Safety Level Two beginning tomorrow, Tuesday, May 25, at 12:01 a.m. 

At Health and Safety Level Two:

  • Students, employees, and visitors who received their final dose of an FDA-approved or authorized COVID-19 vaccine at least two weeks ago do not need to wear a face covering or practice six-foot distancing. This applies both indoors and outdoors.
  • Those not fully vaccinated are required to wear a face covering only when they are unable to maintain six feet of distance from others on campus, whether indoors or outdoors.
  • In compliance with state regulations, daily symptom monitoring via the MTU Flex Portal is still required for all members of the campus community before coming to campus. 
  • Group capacity limits, as dictated by the State of Michigan, also remain in place.

 Vaccinations are a personal choice. For this reason, employees and students should not ask one another for vaccination status. Those who are fully vaccinated who wish to continue wearing a face covering are encouraged to do so. 

Governor Whitmer announced last week that Michigan plans to lift all capacity restrictions and face covering mandates on July 1. Michigan Tech intends to move to Health and Safety Level One at that time. 

Michigan Tech has relied on public health guidance from the CDC, public health professionals, and state government authorities as our primary navigational waypoints in making these decisions, just as we have during the past 15 months. We thank you for your continued support and cooperation.

Return to Campus Guidance

by MTU Flex Task Force

To chart our course over the last 15 months, Michigan Tech has relied on public health guidance from the CDC, public health professionals, and state government authorities as our primary navigational waypoints.

Last week, Governor Whitmer announced that more than 55 percent of Michigan residents age 16 or older have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as of Monday afternoon. In accordance with the MI Vacc to Normal Plan, the order requiring some work to be completed remotely will end on Monday, May 24. Any University employee interested in returning to in-person work on May 24 may do so with supervisor approval.

All University operations will return to normal on June 14. Employees currently working remotely due to COVID-19 restrictions may continue to do so until June 14, at which time all University personnel regularly scheduled to work in person should plan to do so. Track A and Track B courses will be taught in the modality in which students signed up for them and are not changing as a result of this transition. Those with questions regarding this transition should contact their supervisor.

There will no longer be a separate process for COVID-19 High Risk Accommodations. As always, any employee who feels they may need an accommodation can request one by contacting the Michigan Tech ADA Coordinator at

The University is in the process of updating its remote work form and policies. Additional information regarding remote work, including flexible work schedules, will be available next week.

Finally, as you might have heard, Governor Whitmer held a press conference this morning where she announced a number of anticipated changes to some statewide pandemic mitigation regulations. As we wrote last Sunday, our workplace protocols are dictated by the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA). The governor indicated that MIOSHA will be announcing changes to their orders Monday, May 24. We expect to have more information for you after that announcement.

Michigan Tech remains a primarily residential campus and we are looking forward to the return of in-person operations. We commend you all for your efforts during this extraordinary time and hope to see you on campus soon.

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. 

Spring 2021: All Classes Remote Until January 19

by MTU Flex Task Force

On Friday, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer asked the state’s colleges and universities to delay the return of undergraduate students to campus until Friday, January 15, 2021. In light of this, we will begin the spring semester as planned on January 11, but all classes will be remote until January 19. Additionally, move-in weekend for those living on campus will take place January 15-18. 

No later than Wednesday, December 23, Residence Education and Housing Services will send an email with additional guidance and instructions for those living on campus. This email will include information for those who have extenuating circumstances and may need to request special permission to return to their on-campus residence prior to January 15. 

Michigan Tech will remain at Level Five with some modifications until at least January 14, at which point our intention is to resume operations at Level Three. We will provide more information as soon as we are able.

During the winter break, we will send instructions to students on how to schedule a baseline COVID-19 test when returning to campus. Tests will be scheduled via text message. Students are expected to participate in baseline testing unless they have tested positive within 90 days prior to returning to campus.

Graduate students will receive an email later today with more information on how the Governor’s request impacts them.

This delay in returning students to campus is intended by the State to create a buffer for any potential New Year’s Eve-related spread and further decrease the recent trend Michigan has seen in COVID-19 cases.  

Please direct all questions to

Spring 2021 Return to Campus Plan

by MTU Flex Task Force

We know you have questions about returning to campus in January for the spring 2021 semester. We’re working hard to finalize our plans for an in-person return, with the understanding that certain factors, such as State orders, remain beyond our control. At this time, here’s what we know for sure:

  • Classes will begin January 11, no matter the modality of instruction.
  • Should a State order remain in place mandating remote instruction on January 11, classes will start on time and continue in a remote format until the order is lifted.
  • The residence halls will be open as scheduled, as will many other facilities, such as the library, MUB, and Mt. Ripley ski hill.

To provide you with as much information as we can about our plans to return to campus for spring 2021, we’ve put together a video presentation with President Koubek and Sarah Schulte, general counsel and chair of the MTU Flex Task Force. The video slide deck is available for your reference as well.

Thank you for your grit, tenacity, and determination. Have a happy holiday season and we’ll see you in 2021.

Move to Health and Safety Level Five on November 18

by Bonnie Gorman, Dean of Students and Vice President for Student Affairs

Last night, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued the Pause to Save Lives emergency order, which takes effect Wednesday, November 18, at 12 a.m. This means Michigan Tech will transition to Health and Safety Level Five.

As a result, the following changes will take effect starting Wednesday, November 18, at 12 a.m.:

  • All in-person educational activities are suspended through December. 
  • No group gatherings will be allowed. 
  • With the exception of Thursday’s flu shot clinic all campus events are canceled, including commencement. 
  • Dining and other campus operations will be scaled down. Details will be provided on the Campus Operations page of the MTU Flex website.

All student support services will be available virtually. Let us know if you need something. Also, because the vast majority of you will not be on campus, filling out the Daily Symptom Monitoring Form will no longer be necessary to access Canvas. You’re required to fill out the form, however, if you need to come to campus. Should you have any symptoms of COVID-19 and have questions, please send an email to

As President Koubek mentioned in his email on Friday, the University will issue housing and dining credit for the remaining three weeks of the semester to students who live in the residence halls and do not return to campus after the Thanksgiving break. Residence Education and Housing Services will provide more information on this soon. 

We remain optimistic that we will return to face-to-face instruction in January. However, there are contingency plans in place should we need to continue with remote instruction. A decision about the spring semester will be made no later than December 28, 2020.

Huskies, your efforts to Be Smart and Do Your Part in order to finish the fall semester face-to-face were terrific. Everyone on campus appreciates your hard work and #tenacity. Thank you.

Move to Health and Safety Level Four on November 23

by Rick Koubek, President

Dear Members of the Michigan Tech Community: 

I want to begin this email by restating how proud I am of the MTU campus community’s behavior throughout this pandemic. We have kept our case counts under control with positivity rates well below statewide averages. Classes are progressing, and we continue to move forward as a University. However, we are cognizant of the rapid growth of COVID-19 cases around us—in the UP, Michigan, and neighboring states. Projections show this outbreak growing through the end of the year, and these are all areas students will be visiting during Thanksgiving break. In response, Michigan Tech will transition to Health and Safety Level Four effective Monday, November 23. This transition is a targeted effort to mitigate further spread among our community at large by significantly reducing the number of people on campus after Thanksgiving.

Lecture-based classes will move to a remote format after the Thanksgiving break. However, a small number of labs, Enterprise, Senior Design, and other hands-on courses (including graduate research) will remain face-to-face. Instructors will notify their students early next week whether their classes will continue with face-to-face instruction. Students who continue with face-to-face instruction after Thanksgiving will be tested for COVID-19 upon their return to campus, and then again during the following week. 

We ask students living in the residence halls who do not have face-to-face classes after Thanksgiving to leave their residence hall at the Thanksgiving break and not return for the remainder of the semester. Students leaving the residence halls will receive prorated housing and dining credit/refunds. All students will receive additional information early next week regarding University housing.

Effective November 23, on-campus indoor gatherings will be limited to no more than 10 people and outdoor gatherings may not exceed 25 people, which may affect planned student activities. The library, SDC, dining halls, transportation services, and other student support offices will remain operational. However, retail dining facilities will be closed beginning Monday, November 23, until further notice. 

Research activities on campus will continue with slight modifications. Information will be posted on the COVID-19 Research Information web page early next week. 

With this shift, we ask supervisors to accommodate employees who are able to work from home. 

And, finally, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, we are grateful to all of you for helping to keep Michigan Tech safe and healthy. Thank you for doing your part, and for being part of our outstanding community.

Rick Koubek

Update on Academic Year 2020-2021 Calendar Planning

by Office of the Provost

As we continue to make our way through fall semester 2020, I think we are all happy to find that the planning we engaged in during the spring and summer has paid off. I want to thank all members of the Michigan Tech community for wearing their face coverings, practicing physical distancing, washing their hands, and cleaning the surfaces they touch. Because of our collective efforts to “Be Smart and Do Our Part,” the number of active COVID-19 cases in our campus community remains low.

We returned to Health and Safety Level Three on Monday, October 12, 2020. Because the number of COVID-19 cases on campus continues to be low, we currently anticipate remaining at Level Three until the end of the semester. Planning is underway for a COVID-modified version of our traditional face-to-face Midyear Commencement ceremony on December 19. More details about that event will be released as soon as the Commencement Committee has a chance to finalize their plans. 

MTU Flex Team Summary for the Week Ending October 9

by MTU Flex Task Force

Our moving 14-day total of detected COVID-19 cases is holding steady, with 48 cases recorded both this week and last. Our weekly surveillance detection rate remains low at 1.3 percent. On-campus isolation capacity continues to be strong, with below 5 percent of spaces occupied at this time. As noted in last week’s digest, our testing statistics web page now includes a downloadable document containing historical data from the Michigan Tech testing program from September 10 to present day. This document will continue to be updated. 

On Saturday, October 3, Michigan Tech provided space at the Gates Tennis Center for the Michigan National Guard to assist with community COVID-19 testing for Copper Country residents. Testing took place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and more than 650 tests were administered. If you participated in last Saturday’s community testing event, please report your test results using the Report a COVID-19 Test form.

On Monday, October 12, we plan to return to Health and Safety Level Three. With this transition, hybrid lectures (conducted with a blend of in-person and virtual learning) will resume, conducted as they were before the shift to Level Four on September 30. Campus operations continue to be guided by our Health and Safety Levels Protocol—symptom monitoring and face coverings are still required for those on campus, and social gathering limits for both indoor and outdoor events remain in place.

Fall Break dates (October 15-16) remain as scheduled in the Michigan Tech Academic Calendar. As our Fall Break approaches, to help contain the spread of the virus, local health officials are asking everyone to limit their travel outside of the immediate Copper Country area. 

Thank you for everything you are doing to keep our community protected and safe. If you have any questions regarding Michigan Tech’s surveillance testing program, please visit