Category: Health and Safety Levels

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.


MTU Flex Team Summary for the Week Ending April 28, 2021

by MTU Flex Task Force

The Western Upper Peninsula Health Department (WUPHD) will resume administration of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine this week. Both the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines will be available during the vaccination clinic on Thursday, April 29, at the Michigan Tech SDC varsity gym.The clinic is open to individuals 18 and older. There is no charge for the vaccine or administration of the vaccine. To schedule an appointment for this clinic, please use the WUPHD’s online scheduling system. For additional clinic dates, please visit the WUPHD website at westernuphealth.org.

The moving 14-day total of detected COVID-19 cases is 17, out of 297 tests completed within that time period. We have not conducted any surveillance tests this week. Currently, 2 percent of on-campus isolation space is in use and the campus remains at Health and Safety Level Three. With the semester drawing to a close, our last day of on-campus testing will be Friday, April 30. After Friday, if you need a COVID-19 test, please work with any local health care provider. No pre-existing relationship is required.

We have selected winners in our prize drawing for surveillance testing participants. These individuals will be notified shortly.

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.

This will be our last MTU Flex Team Summary for the academic year. We are deeply grateful to every member of the Michigan Tech community who helped keep our campus safe and open this semester.


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 9, 2021

by MTU Flex Task Force

The moving 14-day total of detected COVID-19 cases is eight, compared to 10 last week. We conducted 153 surveillance tests this week, with one detected case, for a detection rate of .70 percent. Currently, less than 6 percent of on-campus isolation space is in use and the campus remains at Health and Safety Level Three.

We announced yesterday that the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department (WUPHD) will hold mass community vaccination clinics using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at the SDC on Thursday, April 15, and Thursday, April 29. To make an appointment, sign up for the WUPHD COVID Vaccine Waitlist. The WUPHD is scheduling all appointments for these and other clinics in the community. 

Those interested in volunteering at the community clinics are asked to please contact Brian Cadwell at bjcadwel@mtu.edu. Volunteers will receive vaccinations if desired.

In addition, Michigan Tech is partnering with Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center (UGL) to hold vaccine clinics for students April 20-22, also with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The clinics will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the SDC. Students received a one-question poll today, either via text message or email, to gauge their interest in participating. We ask students to please take the poll as soon as possible. Information about scheduling a vaccination clinic appointment will be shared with students early next week.

Many other health care providers and pharmacies in the community are currently offering COVID-19 vaccinations. Information is available online. As of April 5, all Michigan residents 16 and older are eligible to be vaccinated.

As a reminder, under our current Health and Safety Level Protocolthe University’face covering policy applies to everyone on campus, regardless of vaccination status. Please continue to wear your face covering, even if you are vaccinated.


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.


MTU Flex Team Summary for the Week Ending January 15

by MTU Flex Task Force

Welcome to the spring semester and thanks to all students who have scheduled or taken their baseline COVID-19 test. So far this week, we’ve conducted 972 tests with a total of 10 detections for a positivity rate of 1 percent. Currently, less than 6 percent of on-campus isolation space is being used.

Working with the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department (WUPHD), the University hosted its first COVID-19 vaccine clinic this week for Phase 1A personnel. This cohort includes COVID-19 testing lab employees and EMS first responders, as well as other health care personnel and police officers. Next week, the University will announce its employee vaccination program in Tech Today. 

Please show support for our health care workers by helping mitigate the spread of COVID-19. For students who have not scheduled a baseline test, please text Hello to 906-257-9677 and follow the prompts. This scheduling number is new for spring—if you have the old number saved, please update it. Alternatively, you can schedule an appointment by calling the Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center (UGL) at 906-483-1860.

As campus returns to Health and Safety Level Three today, our primary focus remains on providing an environment allowing our students to continue with face-to-face instruction. We’ve ramped up our baseline and surveillance testing programs and will continue our face covering and social distancing requirements for the foreseeable future.

For those of you traveling back to Houghton this week, safe travels.