Category: Personal Safety Practices

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.

Health and Safety Levels Update and More Info on Federal Mandates

by MTU Flex Task Force

Dear Members of the Michigan Tech Community, Our moving 14-day total of detected COVID-19 shows 59 active cases confirmed on campus. Houghton County has a seven-day average of 17 confirmed cases per day (as of October 22).

Because we are seeing an increase in cases, both on campus and in the local community, we are returning to the Health and Safety Level protocols that were in place at the start of the fall semester. Beginning Monday, October 25, face coverings will be required indoors on campus, with the exception of the SDC and Gates Tennis Center, where face coverings remain recommended for all. You are not required to wear a face covering when alone in an enclosed space. Please refer to our Health and Safety Levels for additional information.

Federal Contractor Vaccination or Exception Mandate

As discussed in President Koubek’s email this morning, the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force has issued requirements for federal contractors and subcontractors to comply with the various safety protocols outlined in President Biden’s Path Out of the Pandemic plan and Executive Order 14042.

The order’s federal contractor vaccination mandate requires institutions with significant federal contracts to have all employees fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or have an approved exception. Because Michigan Tech has significant federal contracts, the University must implement a vaccination/exception mandate for all University employees who work in the United States, even if they work remotely.

At Michigan Tech, these mandates will go into effect beginning January 10, 2022, at the start of the spring semester. It will apply to full-time, part-time, and temporary employees. It will also include student employees. At this time, the mandate does not extend to students who are not employed by the University.

More detailed information regarding vaccination and exception requirements is included below and on the MTU Flex website.

Vaccination Timing

All employees must be fully vaccinated or have an approved exception byJanuary 10, 2022. A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Please note that the Pfizer vaccine doses are given 21 days apart and the Moderna doses are given 28 days apart. Vaccines approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) are also acceptable under CDC guidance.

The COVID-19 vaccine is free, and doses are available at most pharmacies and health care providers. Please visit the Copper Country Strong website for information about where and how to get vaccinated in the Western Upper Peninsula.

Vaccination Documentation

Under the federal requirements, employees will need to show proof of their vaccination status. We are building a confidential process employees can use to provide this proof, either electronically or in person, and which Michigan Tech will use to review that documentation. We will provide more information as soon as we are able.

Exception from Vaccination

Employees with documented medical reasons for being unvaccinated may be entitled to a disability accommodation excepting them from the vaccination mandate. Medical exceptions can be requested by contacting Michigan Tech’s ADA Coordinator at adacoordinator@mtu.edu. Information and a form will be sent to employees for completion, and documentation will be required from a medical provider.

Employees with a sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance that prevents them from receiving a COVID-19 vaccine may be entitled to an accommodation excepting them from the vaccination mandate. Accommodation requests based on a religious belief, practice, or observance should be made using the religious exception form. When completed, this form should be submitted to Michigan Tech General Counsel Sarah Schulte at shschult@mtu.edu.

All accommodation requests are confidential. In the event that a request is granted, only those individuals who need to know of the accommodation will be informed of it. In the event that an accommodation request is denied, it will not be shared beyond those performing the review, except as requested by the individual seeking the exception. Employees who receive a vaccination exception may be required to comply with alternative health and safety protocols.

All employees need to be fully vaccinated or have an accommodation in place prior to January 10, 2022. Human Resources will work with employees who have challenges with those requirements.

Please send your questions about any of these topics to mtuflex@mtu.edu

Modifications to Health and Safety Level Two

by MTU Flex Task Force

In August, as we prepared for students’ return to campus and factored in the uncertainty of the delta variant, our campus moved to Health and Safety Level Two, expecting to stay there for at least five weeks to monitor the spread of COVID-19 within our community. During these five weeks, you all did your part extraordinarily well—the number of confirmed cases on campus and the amount of virus detected in campus wastewater remains low thanks to you.

However, the situation in our local community is less clear. The Western Upper Peninsula Health Department and local health professionals continue to see the ongoing presence of the virus. While we would very much like to move the campus back to Health and Safety Level One, a somewhat more cautious route is appropriate at this time.

Therefore, Michigan Tech will move to a modified Level Two starting Saturday, September 18. Face coverings will still be required in classrooms and laboratories during classes and lab courses, and in the library. Face coverings may also be required during faculty office hours at the discretion of the individual faculty member. In all other settings, face coverings will be encouraged but not required. Face covering requirements for fully vaccinated close contacts, as listed in our Quarantine Guidelines, will remain in place.

Please allow time for the signage around campus to catch up—and remember that our MTU Flex plan is structured to be responsive to fluctuations in case count and other factors related to COVID-19. As always, should the local and/or on-campus variables change, we will reevaluate our Health and Safety Level accordingly.

We appreciate your continued diligence in following the Health and Safety Level guidelines and helping keep the community safe.

MTU Flex Team Summary for the Week Ending September 3, 2021

by MTU Flex Task Force

Now that the fall semester has begun, we’re pleased to resume our weekly updates regarding the University’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Wastewater testing is underway and will be an important part of our multipronged mitigation effort this fall. The positive COVID-19 case count for our campus community will be updated weekly on the MTU Flex website. We ask that you please report positive test results using the Report a COVID-19 Test form.

We’ve received questions regarding the protocols for isolation and quarantine. Please refer to the Quarantine Guidelines Flowchart and send questions to mtuflex@mtu.edu. All on-campus isolation space is currently unoccupied.

We were pleased to see our on-campus vaccination clinics run smoothly this week. Thank you to those who participated. We will look into hosting more clinics once we have more information about the availability of a third-dose booster to the general public.

We appreciate your continued diligence in following the Health and Safety Level guidelines and for helping to keep the community safe.