Category: Campus Operations

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


Michigan Tech Affected by New Federal Mandates

by Rick Koubek, President

On September 24, 2021, the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force issued requirements for federal contractors and subcontractors concerning various safety protocols as outlined in President Biden’s Path Out of the Pandemic plan and Executive Order 14042.

Michigan Tech receives a portion of its research funding through federal contracts and therefore is subject to these new federal mandates. This means that as long as these federal requirements are in effect, Michigan Tech must comply. 

Ultimately, to comply with these requirements, all employees must provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or receive a medical or religious exception with the University. The current federal mandate does not apply to students unless they are also University employees. This requirement will take effect on January 10, 2022. 

The federal mandate also stipulates that federal contractors institute a face covering policy with guidelines based on transmission rates in the community. 

More information about these mandates will be provided in an email from the MTU Flex Task Force later today and is available on the MTU Flex website

As we take steps to implement these new federal requirements, Michigan Tech is committed to providing the appropriate support and resources to our employees. The MTU Flex Task Force is available to help answer questions you may have. I encourage you to contact mtuflex@mtu.edu. However, it is important that we adhere to these new requirements by January 10, 2022, which coincides with the start of the spring semester. 

I would like to thank everyone on our campus for your remarkable commitment to the health and safety of our community during the pandemic. I also recognize and appreciate your flexibility and patience. The constantly changing nature of this situation continues to test our fortitude, but we have proven that no challenge is too formidable for our campus community to overcome.


MTU Flex Team Summary for the Week Ending September 17, 2021

by MTU Flex Task Force

Our moving 14-day total of detected COVID-19 cases continues to be low, with 11 cases confirmed on campus (this number was 100 at this time last year). Houghton County has a seven-day average of five confirmed cases per day. 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.

Our wastewater testing program is on-going and does not show significant viral presence on campus at this time. Less than 10% of our on-campus isolation space (roughly 30-room total capacity) is currently occupied. We would like to thank the Husky community for its efforts to continue to control the spread of COVID-19.  

Walk-in, on-demand COVID-19 testing is available to Michigan Tech students and employees in the Datolite Room at the MUB on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. There is no cost to be tested, and no appointment is needed. Read more COVID-19 Testing Information on the MTU Flex website. Please be aware that if you are exposed to COVID-19, quarantine guidelines vary depending on vaccination status. 

We don’t expect immediate clarification on a number of President Biden’s testing and vaccination announcements from last week. We will update the University community as soon as we have additional information to share.

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


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.


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. 


COVID-19 Update

by MTU Flex Task Force

As we prepare for the upcoming fall semester, the University is keeping a watchful eye on the local COVID-19 case count. While Houghton County’s caseload remains low at this time, adaptations to our operations may be warranted should circumstances change. These adaptations include elevating the campus’s Health and Safety Level as outlined in our MTU Flex plan. 

Michigan Tech strongly encourages employees and students to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Getting vaccinated is the best way to stay healthy this fall and avoid quarantine. Free vaccines will be available throughout the fall semester at the locations listed on the Copper Country Strong vaccine web page under “How Do I Get The Vaccine?” We will also continue to offer on-demand COVID-19 testing and conduct COVID-19 wastewater testing throughout the fall semester. The health and safety of our campus community remains our top priority and we will adapt campus operations as necessary based on public health guidance and the prevalence of the virus in our community.  

The MTU Flex team will continue to provide timely updates as we prepare to welcome our students back to campus for the start of the fall semester. Thank you again for your diligence in protecting our campus community. 


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.


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 adacoordinator@mtu.edu

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.


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.