Category: Campus Experience

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.


Guidance on Face Coverings

by MTU Flex Task Force

We have received questions from University employees on the status of face covering requirements on campus, given the change in face covering rules announced by Governor Whitmer on Friday. For now, all Michigan Tech employees should continue following the same protocols that have been in place under Health and Safety Level Three.

The State of Michigan’s newest health orders do not address rules for workplaces—those are the responsibility of the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA). MIOSHA has indicated that they are still deciding if they will lift their face covering mandate for employees. Until changes from MIOSHA are announced, Michigan Tech is required to follow the current MIOSHA rules.

As soon as additional information becomes available, we will pass along guidance clarifications.

As a reminder, under our current Health and Safety Level Protocol, the 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 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 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 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.


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.


COVID-19 Testing for Employees Working on Campus after Thanksgiving Break

by University Marketing and Communications

As a result of increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases in the Western Upper Peninsula and statewide, the MTU Flex Task Force asks that certain Michigan Tech employees get tested for COVID-19 following Thanksgiving break.

“Employees who need to be on campus after Thanksgiving break and who either traveled or gathered with others beyond their normal circle are being asked to get tested for COVID-19 the week of their return to campus and again the following week,” said Joel Isaacson, project manager of the MTU Flex Task Force and the University’s senior associate athletic director. “We encourage those employees to limit their interactions with others between these two tests.”

Supervisors of student workers are responsible for telling students how to get tested if they return to campus after Thanksgiving break. The process for scheduling an asymptomatic test is identical for both employees and students. Simply text Hello to 906-256-6466 and follow the prompts. Employees and students who do not have access to texting can schedule an appointment by calling Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center (UGL) at 906-483-1860.

Isaacson said employees and students who are symptomatic or believe they have been exposed to COVID-19 should call UGL at 906-483-1860 to schedule a test and should not schedule an on-demand test via text message. Isaacson noted that anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days does not need to get tested.

Everyone should continue to exercise personal hygiene and safety practices during and after Thanksgiving break. Many cases of COVID-19 are asymptomatic, and people who do have symptoms frequently exhibit only a sore throat and congestion, similar to a mild cold.

“Remember to wash your hands frequently with soap, wear a face covering, and limit social interactions to a small group of family and friends. We want everyone to have a healthy holiday season,” Isaacson said.

Please direct questions to mtuflex@mtu.edu.