Tag: COVID-19

Safety protocol changes

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. 


Vaccine requirements for graduate student employees

To comply with requirements for federal contractors and subcontractors issued by the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force, all Michigan Tech student employees — including Graduate Teaching Assistants, Graduate Research Assistants, Graduate Teaching Instructors, and graduate hourly employees — must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or have an approved exception prior to January 10, 2022.

More detailed information regarding vaccination and exception requirements is included below and on the MTU Flex website. Please send your questions about any of these topics to mtuflex@mtu.edu

Vaccination Timing

All employees must be fully vaccinated or have an approved exception by January 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


Graduate School Resources and Response to COVID-19

This post summarizes the response and resources available to graduate students beginning spring 2020. Resources that continue to be available as of fall 2021 are marked with an asterisk (*).

Health and Safety Resources and Responses

*HuskyFAN Food and Delivery

Michigan Technological University’s campus food pantry, or HuskyFAN, moved their operations to include an online food order form. Through this form students, faculty and staff, can request items to be packaged and delivered or arrange a pick up day and time. Starting mid-September the food pantry will distribute vouchers to be used at the local Houghton Farmer’s Market. These can be used to purchase fresh produce.

*Provided Masks and Other Wellness Supplies

At the beginning of the fall 2020 semester, all student groups were provided a time to pick up a wellness packet which included a washable mask, hand sanitizer, and information on health and safety during the pandemic. Areas on campus including HuskyFAN and Residence Education and Housing, and Center for Student Mental Health and Well-Being have continued to provide masks and other wellness supplies like cleaners, wipes, and hand sanitizer to all students upon request.

*Telehealth

Michigan Technological University’s Center for Student Mental Health and Well-Being (CSMWWB) moved their operations online including the Graduate Student Support Group. Recognizing the need for additional mental health and well-being resources, the CSMWWB has launched another telehealth option through MySSP.

*On Campus Testing and Symptom Monitoring

Throughout the 2020-2021 academic year, Michigan Technological University encouraged, and at times required, all students to use the Daily Symptom Monitoring Form which provided the necessary offices with information to support students who felt unwell. On demand COVID-19 testing has continued to be available to students, faculty and staff throughout the academic year.

*Isolation/Quarantine Spaces

Throughout the pandemic multiple departments on campus (Residence Education & Housing Services, Graduate School, Dean of Students Office) worked together to ensure students had safe spaces if they were required to isolate or quarantine. During an isolation or quarantine period, students were contacted often to provide them with resources including food delivery, virtual engagement opportunities, mental health resources, assistance with children, and many other resources.

Financial Resources and Responses

*Emergency Funds

Even before the pandemic began, Michigan Technological University had a process in place for students to request emergency funds for extenuating circumstances. At the start of the pandemic, the decision was made to loosen the eligibility requirements of the emergency funds in order to allow as many students as possible the opportunity to apply. Over the last year and a half, Michigan Technological University has given out over $100,000. In addition, the Graduate School was gifted $100,000 which was distributed to graduate students in need.

Distribution of CARES Funds

For eligible students, CARES funds were distributed through block payments. Upcoming CARES funds will be distributed in a similar manner.

Daniell Heights

Policies regarding evictions and late fees were relaxed. Students with a payment plan in place could remain in their housing and late fees were waived.

Academic Related Resources and Responses

Deadline Flexibility

Many different deadlines including time for completion of an incomplete grade,and date for withdrawal with a “W”,  were extended for all students during the spring 2020, fall 2020, and spring 2021 semesters.

Course Retake Policy

The policy for the number and type of courses that can be retaken has been modified. Any courses taken during spring 2020, summer 2020, fall 2020 and spring 2021 will not count toward the limit of retaking a class a maximum of three times as stated in the University policy and may be repeated, regardless of the grade that was received.

Pass/Fail Grades

In the spring 2020, and fall 2020 semesters students were provided with the opportunity to choose a Pass/ Low Pass/ Fail Option as Michigan Technological University recognized that the alternative modalities for classes may not have been ideal for all types of students.

Suspensions/Dismissals

In spring 2020 the Graduate School amended the policy for Good Academic Standing and Dismissal to not penalize any students who may have been placed on probation, suspension, or dismissal.

Dissertation, Thesis, Report Deadlines

In spring 2020, the Graduate School extended the grace period and waived the fee to allow students to complete their degree without additional registration. In summer 2020, the grace period fee was also waived.

Scholastic Standards

Additional flexibility was offered for graduate scholastic standards. Pass (SCV) grades from spring 2020 and fall 2020 are allowed to be used to fulfill degree requirements, and programs have the flexibility to allow an additional 3 credits of pass (SCV) grades to be used toward graduate degree requirements.

*Electronic Forms and Processes

The Graduate School recognized that many forms and processes were not as functional once we transitioned to remote learning and work. All signatures on forms have been and will be accepted as an email from the signatory.  Other forms and processes were modified or moved online including:

  • Approval for a dissertation, thesis, or report
  • Application for an additional program (masters to PhD in same program)
  • Application for scheduling a dissertation, thesis, or report defense
  • Degree completion form moved to an updated format
  • Appeals of suspensions moved to an updated format
  • Report on final oral examination form moved to an updated format

*International Students

As the pandemic continues to affect international students, please continue to monitor the International Programs and Services and MTU Flex Portal webpages for information.

Additional flexibility was allowed by USCIS to permit continuing international students to take classes remotely or register for less than full-time to maintain their visa status.

*: Resources that continue to be available as of fall 2021.


Transition to Health and Safety Level Two

Message from Dr. Koubek from August 5, 2021.

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. 


Update from the Graduate School, 18 May 2020: MTU Flex online and research lab openings

Dear Students, 

We hope this email finds you and your family in good health. The events of the past weeks required that important adjustments be made to ensure that you can continue your education—coursework, research, and teaching—while staying safe and healthy. We are excited to welcome you back to campus in the fall 2020 semester and we are prepared to respond to changes in these uncertain times. We are opening the fall 2020 semester in person and, depending on developing circumstances, we will make the adjustments necessary so you will continue to receive the high-quality education you expect from Michigan Tech. 

MTU Flex is a digital platform where you will find information relating to the academic experience, campus experience, and financial questions of graduate students. The platform also provides information about campus-wide graduate student-specific resources that you will find useful. We have included a tab on frequently asked questions that provide quick responses to some of the common questions we have been receiving from graduate students. 

A number of research activities have started back up, per State of Michigan regulations. The “manufacturing-like” labs and field research activities have re-opened and all other research labs will start opening with a plan for keeping research group members safe and healthy.  The plan will vary with laboratories so please stay in touch with your research advisor and department chair.  We will keep you and the faculty informed as other information becomes available.  

In the coming weeks, you will receive further communication about our plans for the fall semester and the resources available to you as we navigate this very difficult time.  Please reach out to the graduate school via gradschool@mtu.edu about any concerns you may have. We also encourage you to communicate with your department chairs and/or graduate program directors about issues specific to your program. 

We are concerned about your health and welfare. Please follow all health recommendations from local, state, and national officials. Practice social distancing. Wash your hands. Wear a face mask in public. Seek medical advice and self-isolate if you are experiencing a fever, cough, or other symptoms of COVID-19. The Michigan Tech Counseling Services continues to provide services that support student’s mental health and wellbeing.  If you are experiencing financial hardships, consider applying to the Husky Emergency Assistance FundGraduate School Emergency FundInternational Student Emergency Fund, and/or Betty Chavis Emergency Fund. You may also contact the Graduate Student Government (GSG) with questions or concerns. HuskyFAN has also made emergency food packs available at Michigan Tech’s Public Safety and Police Service

Be safe and healthy. 

Sincerely, 

Pushpa Murthy, Dean of the Graduate School
Associate Provost for Graduate Education


Report from Provost’s Committee on issues impacting graduate students

Dear students,

In early April, the Provost convened an ad hoc committee to look into issues impacting graduate students. This committee submitted a set of recommendations to the Provost concerning employment, Daniell Heights graduate student housing, fundraising, and communications. The outcome of those recommendations is the subject of this email.

Employment

The committee recognized that a number of students have had their on-campus working hours reduced or eliminated entirely. The committee recommended that these students be supported for the hours they were unable to work. Across-the-board compensation is not possible at this time due to the wide variability in student situations and need. Federal Work-Study students will continue to be paid for the number of hours they were allowed. Students experiencing financial hardship as a result of lost hours are encouraged to apply for assistance through the emergency funds listed later in this email. 

Daniell Heights Housing

The results of recommendations made in regard to Daniell Heights are below: 

  • There will be no evictions as long as a student has a payment plan in place and is meeting their obligations.
  • Accounts Receivable will offer zero-interest payment plans. Please contact them to set one up: mtu.edu/fso/office/contact/
  • Late fees were waived in April. At this time and going forward, normal late fees will be applied. Students are encouraged to set up a payment plan if they are having trouble making rent payments.
  • Students having trouble making their payments should reach out to Accounts Receivable to discuss their situation. Accounts Receivable will work with individuals to discuss future plans and expectations. Additional communication will be coming from Accounts Receivable and Housing.
  • Previously planned rent increases are included in the budget for 2020-2021. It is not anticipated that these increases will change. 
  • If a hold is placed on your account, please contact Accounts Receivable to discuss your situation. 

Fundraising

As the demand for emergency funds has increased, the committee recommended that fundraising for these emergency resources be made a priority. The dean of the Graduate School and Advancement and Alumni Engagement are putting together a plan to raise funds that will be specifically set aside for grad student support. These funds will be prioritized for students who are not eligible for other forms of emergency resources. 

Communications

For information of particular interest to graduate students, visit the MTU Flex website, which addresses questions and concerns from students, faculty, and staff.

Emergency Funds

There are a number of emergency resources available to students. Please see below for a list of available resources.

  • Husky Emergency Assistance Fund – Emergency funds for students and staff experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19. These funds do not need to be paid back.
  • Graduate School Emergency Fund – Zero-interest loans provided by the Graduate School. Currently capped at $500 per application. Very flexible repayment options.
  • International Student Emergency Fund – Available to international students experiencing financial hardship. Currently limited to $500 per student, but other amounts may be considered on a case-by-case basis. The funds do not need to be paid back. 
  • Betty Chavis Emergency Fund – Emergency funds for students—now including graduate students—experiencing financial hardship.
  • HuskyFAN – Food resources available for students experiencing food insecurity. No-cost meal packets can be picked up from Public Safety. Please schedule a pickup ahead of time.

CARES Act funds will also be available to eligible students. We are awaiting University guidance on how the funds will be disbursed. Official communication on this matter is forthcoming. 

The Graduate School recognizes the difficulty of the situation and urges any graduate student who is experiencing hardship or who feels their concerns are not addressed by the information in this email to reach out by emailing gradschool@mtu.edu. We are here to help.

Take care,

Pushpa Murthy
Associate Provost and Dean, Graduate School


Graduate academic standing and pass/fail option for spring 2020

Dear students,

We hope this email finds you and your family well and that the close of the semester gives you some time to relax and refresh your spirit.

Grades for spring semester have been recorded, and your academic standing has been updated if you are a degree-seeking student. For all classes with a letter grade, you have the option to change those grades to Pass (SCV), Low Pass (LCV), or Fail (ECV) grades. Pass, low pass, and fail grades do not count in your GPA calculation. A limited number of SCV grades may be allowed to count toward your degree, with the approval of your graduate program. Please consult with your advisor and graduate program director to determine what options will best support your academic progress.  Additional information is available online.

The option to change your letter grade to Pass (SCV), Low Pass (LCV), or Fail (ECV) will be available on Banweb from 8 a.m. Wednesday, May 6, through 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, May 12. To change your grade from the letter grade earned to SCV, LCV, or ECV:  

  • Go to Banweb and click on the Student tab  
  • Then click the Student Records link  
  • Finally, select the COVID-19 Pass/Fail Grade link 

The Graduate School has put a hold on processes to place students on academic probation or academic suspension for spring 2020. The decision to change your grades to pass/fail may impact your academic standing by changing your cumulative GPA. As a result, your academic standing as shown on MyMichiganTech may not be correct until after May 12. On May 13, the Graduate School will carefully review your academic record and update it as follows for all degree-seeking students:

  • If you were on probation after fall 2019, and you have returned to good standing, your record will be updated to good standing.
  • If you were on probation after fall 2019, and you have not returned to good standing, you will remain on probation. No student will be suspended based on their spring 2020 academic standing.
  • If you were in good standing after fall 2019, or are a new student in spring 2020, you will be in good standing, regardless of the grades earned in spring 2020.

If you have any questions about your academic standing or related to degree completion, please reach out to the Graduate School. We want to hear from you and we’re here to help.

Be well and keep in touch,

Michigan Tech Graduate School


Summer 2020 Track B and research labs

Greetings!

An email has been sent to graduate students with more information about the decision to continue to conduct instruction remotely during Track B, the reopening of research labs, as well as an update on the forthcoming graduate student MTU Flex web page (email is attached).

We realize you are anxious to return to the lab and to the regular advising and instruction of graduate students. We have frequently received the question, “What do I need to do to get my lab and students ready for continuing in-person research and advising in the laboratory?” 

For Track A, research activities will continue to be conducted remotely. For Track B, we are putting in place plans to conduct in-person research; however, under the current executive order, we must limit activities to those deemed critical. We are not sure at this time whether these restrictions will remain in place during Track B. Several Michigan universities are working with State entities in an effort to reopen research labs as soon as possible. This is a rapidly evolving situation, and we will keep you updated as the situation changes. We have directed graduate students to work directly with their supervisors and refer to the resources and VPR guidelines on mtu.edu/research/COVID-19.

As we continue to monitor the situation, it is imperative that we protect the health and safety of our students and faculty as we return to research activities, while increasing our research activity in a stepwise fashion in line with governmental guidance. As colleges and departments are planning their return to normal activities, the specifics will vary greatly with the type of research activities, the nature of research laboratories and equipment, and whether fieldwork is involved.

There are some common guiding principles that we should all follow: 

  1. Follow local, state, and national directives regarding shelter-in-place and social distancing. 
  2. Under Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s extended “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order, all persons are required to wear face coverings when entering enclosed public spaces, including campus buildings and workspaces, where social distancing cannot be maintained. 

    Michigan Tech strongly encourages employees to provide their own personal face coverings in alignment with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance. There is additional information about masks in the April 30 edition of Tech Today.
  3. Protect the physical and emotional health and safety of our researchers and students.
  4. Prioritize graduate students nearing graduation when selecting activities to ramp up first.

There is additional guidance about conducting research on the Vice President for Research website, but we recommend that all advisors begin to develop a plan for their labs that addresses the following fundamental issues:

  1. Protection of the health and safety of students and faculty
    • A social distancing plan
      • How many people can safely work in the lab synchronously following social  distancing (six feet/two meters) guidelines?  
      • Do you need to set up a staggered schedule so that no more than two people are present in the laboratory? (In many cases two people need to be present for safety concerns.)
  2. Personal protective equipment (PPE) for personnel in the laboratory and cleaning procedures
    • What PPE should students and staff wear in your laboratory? (Mask? Lab coat? Gloves? Goggles? Others?)
    • How should the lab be cleaned up after each use?  
    • Should you maintain a log for student schedule and lab cleanup?   
  3. Activities that must be conducted in the lab and those that can be carried out remotely
    • Prepare a list of activities that have to take place in the laboratory, such as sample prep, experimental work, and equipment use.
    • Prepare a list of activities that can take place remotely, such as work on the computer and data entry, group meetings, individual meetings, and writing.
  4. A communication plan 
    • Prepare a plan to communicate all the details for working safely in the laboratory. Require students and staff to sign that they have read and understood the plan.

We realize this is an uncertain time and we are all anxious to return to our normal research and advising routines. Please continue to ask questions of us and we will answer them with as much speed as we are able.

Take care and be well,

Pushpa


Updated Course Grading Options for Spring 2020 – for Accelerated MS students

This information was emailed to students accepted into an accelerated MS program for summer or fall 2020 on April 24, 2020.

Congratulations on being accepted into an accelerated master’s program at Michigan Tech for summer or fall 2020.  We hope that you and your family are doing well.

At the University Senate meeting this week, new policies were approved in response to the challenges of this academic semester. Pending administrative approval, these policies will give you additional options and flexibility toward completing your courses this semester.

  • The accelerated master’s program allows you to double-count up to six credits of undergraduate courses toward your graduate degree, with the permission of your graduate program director.  
  • The University will allow graduate level courses to be converted to pass/fail.
  • The Graduate School will allow a limited number of pass (SCV) grades in courses to be used to satisfy degree requirements.
  • Each graduate program may allow up to six credits of BC, C, or SCV grades to count toward a graduate degree. At the discretion of the graduate program, an additional three (3) credits of SCV may be allowed to count toward degree requirements.  Please consult with your graduate program director to determine the scholastic standards in your program.

For more information about the pass/fail option, please consult the University’s web site.

Please let us know if we can assist you in any way as you begin your career as a graduate student.

Sincerely,

Michigan Tech Graduate School


Updated Academic Policies for Spring 2020

This information was emailed to all enrolled graduate students on April 24, 2020.

We hope this email finds you and your family doing well during these extraordinary times.  At the University Senate meeting this week, three new policies were approved. Pending administrative approval, these policies will give you additional options and flexibility toward completing your courses this semester.

Policy 1: Pass/Low Pass/Fail option

Pending administrative approval, graduate students will be able to change the grading mode of their classes with letter grades to pass/low pass/fail.  Pass/low pass/fail grades will not be included in a student’s GPA calculation. See the next section of this email for information on how these grades may be considered for degree completion and the University’s FAQ page for more information. Research credits will not be eligible for conversion, as they are already graded as Progress (“P”) or Inadequate Progress (“Q”). 

Graduate students will be able to view their spring grades and have until 11:59 PM Eastern on Tuesday, May 12, 2020 to decide if they would like to switch any spring 2020 classes to pass/fail grades (grades of SCV, LCV, or ECV). 

  • A pass grade (SCV) will be assigned for a grade of C or better.  
  • A low pass grade (LCV) will be assigned for grades of CD or D.  
  • A fail grade (ECV) will be assigned for a grade F. 

To change your grade from the letter grade earned to a Pass (SCV), Low Pass (LCV), or Fail (ECV) option, go to Banweb and click on the Student tab and then click the Student Records link.  Finally, select the COVID-19 Pass/Fail Grade link.

Policy 2: Scholastic Standards

Pending administrative approval, and at the discretion of the graduate program, a limited number of SCV grades may be used to satisfy degree requirements.

A graduate program may allow up to six (6) credits of  BC, C, or SCV grades to count toward degree requirements. The BC or C grades may be from any semester.  At the discretion of the graduate program, an additional three (3) credits of SCV may be allowed to count toward degree requirements.  Please consult with your graduate program director to determine the scholastic standards in your program.

Policy 3: Repeating courses

Pending administrative approval, students may repeat any course taken during Spring 2020, regardless of the grade they earned in that course or the number of times they have taken the course.

The following policy changes have been previously announced and are already in place:

  • Drop deadline extended: The deadline to withdraw from classes with a “W” grade has been extended to 5 p.m. on April 24. W grades do not impact cumulative GPA calculation.  Please email the Registrar’s Office (registrar@mtu.edu) with your M-number and the course(s) you would like to drop.  International students and supported students can be registered with fewer than nine credits without impacting their support or student status.
  • Probation and suspension: The process to place graduate students on probation or suspension will be placed on hold for spring 2020. Students will maintain their current academic standing after semester grades are posted and no student will be suspended. Students currently on probation may return to good standing if their academic performance has improved in spring 2020. Dismissals (if any) will be handled on a case-by-case basis after consulting with the graduate program.

We are concerned about your health and well-being. If you have concerns about your workload, educational experience, or personal matters, please contact us (gradschool@mtu.edu) so we can connect you with resources. Anna McClatchy, our Student Support Coordinator, is available to help students. HuskyFAN is available to provide emergency food for those in need. The University has gathered a wide variety of resources to assist students. Finally, Counseling Services is providing individual services, group sessions, and seminars through remote services and referrals. 

We understand that you might have reservations about openly discussing your concerns. If you prefer, you may address concerns or questions confidentially. Students may contact Counseling Services at 906- 487-2538, or the Office of the Ombuds at speters@mtu.edu or 906-487-2391. Concerns can also be reported anonymously online

Take the time you need to take care of yourself and your family. We wish you the very best as we navigate through these extraordinary times. Please reach out to us with any questions or suggestions you may have. 

Sincerely,

Michigan Tech Graduate School