Update on Academic Year 2020-2021 Calendar Planning

by Office of the Provost

As we continue to make our way through fall semester 2020, I think we are all happy to find that the planning we engaged in during the spring and summer has paid off. I want to thank all members of the Michigan Tech community for wearing their face coverings, practicing physical distancing, washing their hands, and cleaning the surfaces they touch. Because of our collective efforts to “Be Smart and Do Our Part,” the number of active COVID-19 cases in our campus community remains low.

We returned to Health and Safety Level Three on Monday, October 12, 2020. Because the number of COVID-19 cases on campus continues to be low, we currently anticipate remaining at Level Three until the end of the semester. Planning is underway for a COVID-modified version of our traditional face-to-face Midyear Commencement ceremony on December 19. More details about that event will be released as soon as the Commencement Committee has a chance to finalize their plans. 


MTU Flex Team Summary for the Week Ending October 9

by MTU Flex Task Force

Our moving 14-day total of detected COVID-19 cases is holding steady, with 48 cases recorded both this week and last. Our weekly surveillance detection rate remains low at 1.3 percent. On-campus isolation capacity continues to be strong, with below 5 percent of spaces occupied at this time. As noted in last week’s digest, our testing statistics web page now includes a downloadable document containing historical data from the Michigan Tech testing program from September 10 to present day. This document will continue to be updated. 

On Saturday, October 3, Michigan Tech provided space at the Gates Tennis Center for the Michigan National Guard to assist with community COVID-19 testing for Copper Country residents. Testing took place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and more than 650 tests were administered. If you participated in last Saturday’s community testing event, please report your test results using the Report a COVID-19 Test form.

On Monday, October 12, we plan to return to Health and Safety Level Three. With this transition, hybrid lectures (conducted with a blend of in-person and virtual learning) will resume, conducted as they were before the shift to Level Four on September 30. Campus operations continue to be guided by our Health and Safety Levels Protocol—symptom monitoring and face coverings are still required for those on campus, and social gathering limits for both indoor and outdoor events remain in place.

Fall Break dates (October 15-16) remain as scheduled in the Michigan Tech Academic Calendar. As our Fall Break approaches, to help contain the spread of the virus, local health officials are asking everyone to limit their travel outside of the immediate Copper Country area. 

Thank you for everything you are doing to keep our community protected and safe. If you have any questions regarding Michigan Tech’s surveillance testing program, please visit mtu.edu/flex/testing.


Be Smart. Do Your Part: Office Cleaning and Maintenance Guidance for Departments

by Administration

Because on-campus activity continues to be limited this semester, custodial services have been redistributed. Campus buildings are serviced on a rotating schedule using a team staffing approach. Custodial staff prioritizes public areas and open restrooms when they are in your building. They will not clean or check departmental areas and individual offices.

We need you to continue to do your part to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and ensure campus operations continue safely and efficiently. Here’s what we expect of employees – we appreciate your help:


COVID-19 Campus Guidelines Remain in Place

by MTU Flex Task Force

This past Friday, Governor Whitmer moved Region 8 (the Upper Peninsula) back to Phase 4 of the MI Safe Start Plan and the Michigan Supreme Court issued a ruling that effectively invalidated the governor’s COVID-19-related executive orders after April 30. Since then, the MTU Flex Task Force has received questions as to how these developments (in addition to the emergency order issued yesterday by the Department of Health and Human Services) might affect the status of COVD-19 protocols on campus. In short, these changes will not alter the Health and Safety Level on campus or impact educational operations.


Please Report All Test Results

by MTU Flex Team

Data is one of the key tools Michigan Tech is using to try to find COVID-19 cases quickly, stop the spread and keep the campus community and our local community safe.

In the ongoing efforts to keep our community as safe and informed as possible in the midst of the current global coronavirus pandemic, Michigan Tech asks employees who have had a COVID-19 test and work on campus to inform the University via the Report a COVID-19 Test Form, which has been added to the MTU Flex Portal.

If you have received a COVID-19 test, Michigan Tech needs certain information regarding that test, including the date of the test, the result of the test, the date when symptoms, if any, were first experienced and your last date on campus.


MTU Flex Team Summary: Week Ending October 2

by MTU Flex Task Force

Our moving 14-day total of detected COVID-19 cases continues to decline, from 63 last week to 48 this week, and our weekly surveillance detection rate remains low at 1.5%. On-campus isolation capacity remains very strong, with less than 6 percent of spaces occupied at this time. Our testing statistics web page now includes a downloadable document containing historical data from the Michigan Tech testing program from September 10 to present day. This document will continue to be updated moving forward. 

In order to continue to support the greater community, Michigan Tech has offered space for a COVID-19 testing event for Copper Country residents. This testing, organized by the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department and conducted by the Michigan National Guard, will occur this Saturday, October 3, in the parking lot between Gates Tennis Center and the football stadium. This is on-demand (no appointment needed), drive-up, nasopharyngeal testing. This testing is not part of Michigan Tech’s testing program. If Michigan Tech community members choose to participate, they will need to report their test results using the Report a COVID-19 Test form. Results will not come directly to Michigan Tech.

Thank you for everything you are doing to keep our community protected and safe. If you have any questions regarding Michigan Tech’s surveillance testing program, please visit mtu.edu/flex/testing.


Arrangements for Employees Under Health and Safety Level Four

by Renee Hiller, Director of Human Resources

Michigan Tech has moved to Health and Safety Level Four for the next two weeks. In light of this and the switch to remote instruction by Houghton County K-12 schools, the University asks supervisors to accommodate employees who are able to work from home or those impacted by the K-12 schools’ decision. Such accommodations may include flexible and remote work options, as well as access to leave under the current Emergency Family and Medical Leave Act (EFMLA), which provides paid time off for anyone caring for a child whose school or place of care has been closed due to COVID-19.

More information on these and other options will be provided through the supervisor forums. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact humanresources@mtu.edu with questions.


Michigan Tech to Shift to Health and Safety Level Four

by Rick Koubek, President

Thanks to the collective work of our employees and students, detected cases of COVID-19 in our student population continue to decline. But, as we work to satisfy our mission as an educational institution, we remain mindful of our commitment to the community. 

The Copper Country has seen a recent surge in COVID-19 cases. Given the seriousness of the situation, Michigan Tech will transition to Health and Safety Level Four for a period of two weeks (through October 11) effective Monday, September 28. This transition is a targeted effort to mitigate further spread among our community at large by temporarily reducing the density of people on campus.


MTU Flex Team Summary: Week Ending September 25

by MTU Flex Task Force

The MTU Flex team is hopeful, as signs of slowing transmission are beginning to appear in our campus community. Michigan Tech’s number of detected COVID-19 cases in the previous 14 days dropped from 92 last week to 63 this week. Our detection rate from surveillance testing continues to hover around 1.1 percent. On campus, isolation space utilization is currently near 15 percent. On a call with us earlier this week, local health care providers continued to report green light conditions of capacity.

Last week, the MTU COVID-19 Testing Lab completed its 10,000th test, with the majority of testing having been for the community. Currently the lab is seeing an increased demand for tests from the community at large and is redirecting more capacity to help with those efforts, as well as prioritizing samples coming from symptomatic individuals, doctor referrals, and other high-risk populations. 


MTU Flex Team Summary: Week Ending September 18

by MTU Flex Team

Our second full week of surveillance testing is nearly complete. The last seven days resulted in 544 surveillance tests conducted, with a detection rate of 1.5 percent, or eight cases where COVID-19 was detected. Student participation in testing remains strong, as weekly total test goals were surpassed both this week and last. We thank all students who participated.   

Our testing suggests that transmission, while occurring at a lower rate than in past weeks, could be happening in shared housing situations and within a case’s immediate social circle. We are unaware of any spread related to on-campus educational activity.