Aug. 13 Safe Return update
Just a reminder as we start a new academic year that we will continue to put out College Update communications every Friday moving forward as a key communication strategy.
The college-wide Saints Rise Up Steering Committee has reconvened after a break over the summer to review updates and provide recommendations regarding COVID-19. This group will continue to convene every other week until further notice.
The current situation going into the fall semester remains a return to face-to-face education and activities, knowing that we will continue to monitor our environment and make any necessary adjustments moving forward.
The College is tracking the vaccination rates of our Saints community. The latest Pulse Survey results indicate: 89% reporting fully vaccinated, partially vaccinated, scheduled to get vaccinated, or planned to get vaccinated. In disaggregating by campus, the Duluth sites reported an overall 86.17% fully vaccinated status. From an employee perspective, 95.73% of respondents are fully vaccinated. Students indicated an overall fully vaccinated rate of 82.55%. (See last week’s update for additional data).
We are monitoring the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) for an expected announcement lifting the emergency status to an approved status for one or more vaccines. We anticipate adding the approved COVID-19 vaccine(s) to our current list of required immunizations once the experimental status is lifted and establishing a timeline for unvaccinated students to either get vaccinated or submit an exemption form. As per College policy, students have the option to apply for a vaccination exemption due to medical, religious or conscientious reasons.
We have reinstated a masking mandate for all of our employees and students at both the Duluth campuses and the St. Cloud site. Face masks must be worn in indoor environments (faculty, staff and students embedded on Minnesota State campuses follow local protocols).
There have been some new developments with regard to external entities we have relationships with, most notably our healthcare providers. Many healthcare organizations are requiring vaccinations for all employees, including students in clinical settings. Our deans of nursing (Sheryl Sandahl) and healthcare programs (Bruce Loppnow) are working through the issues that come with these requirements. Students who have questions should refer back to these leaders for information.
We are also hearing that our MIAC athletic conference membership is discussing vaccination protocols although no decisions have been made at this point in time. Stay tuned.
Other COVID news
Some uplifting news to report – earlier this week, Governor Walz announced that 70% of Minnesotans age 16 and older have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccination. Closer to home, the Duluth Campus held its first on-site vaccination clinic on Wednesday, the first in a series of many opportunities for our Duluth-area Saints to get vaccinated as we prepare for a safe academic year ahead.
A reminder that folks who are unvaccinated and wish to find out where they can receive the vaccine aside from the Kenwood Duluth campus location can use the CDC’s online vaccine finder to locate sites. Also, through August 15th, the State of MN is offering a $100 dollar incentive program to encourage vaccinations.
Thank you for your support and patience as we continue to navigate through the pandemic. I am looking forward to seeing you in a couple of weeks for our amazing Institute Week! We are a community of hope, light and love of learning!
Have a wonderful weekend,