Category: Personal Safety Practices

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.


Effectively Immediately: Michigan Tech Moves to Health and Safety Level One

by MTU Flex Task Force

In accordance with today’s recession of emergency orders from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, as well as new orders from the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA), Michigan Tech is moving to Health and Safety Level One effectively immediately.

Under Health and Safety Level One:

  • Face coverings are no longer required for any individual, although those who wish to continue to wear them are encouraged to do so.
  • Daily symptom monitoring via the MTU Flex Portal for employees, students, and visitors is no longer required, but we recommend people continue to monitor their symptoms. For students, access to Canvas will no longer be linked to symptom monitoring.
  • We ask that positive COVID-19 test results be reported using the existing test reporting tool in the MTU Flex Portal if you test positive within 14 days of being on campus.
  • Employees in quarantine or isolation situations should inform Human Resources at humanresources@mtu.edu. Students in quarantine or isolation situations should inform the Dean of Students’ office at deanofstudents@mtu.edu.
  • All capacity limits are lifted.
  • Employees and students should remain aware of the federal government’s international travel restrictions.

The MTU Flex team encourages University community members to get their vaccinations and continue with handwashing and hand-sanitizing practices.

The Flex team is launching a communications campaign in the coming weeks to promote vaccination as a means by which to help protect ourselves and other community members. We also ask you to continue to be respectful of those who choose to continue wearing a mask or work with plexiglass shields (however, those who wish to remove those may do so at this time).

Many thanks to our entire community for your diligence in following the public health and safety practices that allowed us to get to this point.


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.