August 9, 2021
Aug. 6 Safe Return update
This past week we closed our COVID-19 flash survey which allowed us to get a sense of vaccination rates, vaccination needs and what St. Scholastica might move forward to ensure the safest environment for those we serve. We had a fantastic response rate with 1,320 completing the survey compared to our two prior surveys (750 and 888). The preliminary findings are very encouraging and we’ll get a report of results to you early next week. Many thanks to all who worked on the survey, particularly Kris Church in institutional research.
In addition to the Flash Survey, we have also been working with the Minnesota Department of Health’s MIIC database to further confirm our data from an aggregate perspective.
We can be very proud as a community that over the past 17 months we have worked collectively and diligently to prevent the spread of the virus through mitigations such as masking protocols, physical distancing, hybrid learning, strongly encouraging vaccinations for those who are able, and the like. I am pleased to announce that as of end of day Friday we have these figures to report to you:
- Overall vaccination rate: 73.06% fully vaccinated
- Overall employee vaccination rate: 88.07% fully vaccinated
- Overall student vaccination rate: 68.01% fully vaccinated
Nevertheless, we are seeing a surge in virus transmission due to the COVID-19 Delta variant, primarily among the unvaccinated. What we understand to date about this variant is that it is highly contagious and that both vaccinated and unvaccinated populations can transmit the virus. This is why we reinstated masks/face coverings in indoor spaces, to provide additional protections for all of our community members.
We also know that the higher the vaccination rate, the greater assurance that we will be able to continue operating without major disruption, providing our students with the Benedictine educational experience they expect. Our goal as a community is to get to a stage where we will no longer need to require masks, where we have confidence that viral transmissions will be low or unlikely.
In order to do that, we will need to see a greater percentage of our community become fully vaccinated, which is why we continue to strongly encourage all who are able to get vaccinated. We have made great progress and we need to continue these efforts. We understand there are a number of schools that have gone to mandating vaccinations. As a learning institution, we instead choose to fully lean into our Benedictine Community Pledge and our values, and lead with positive messaging, targeted educational efforts, and encouragement. We will continue to monitor the overall vaccination rates, which continue to rise, and remain vigilant and flexible to the changing landscape moving forward.
Vaccination opportunities and incentives
Earlier this week, we shared that we’ll be partnering with St. Louis County Public Health to offer on-campus Pfizer and Janssen Johnson/Johnson vaccinations for our Duluth-area Saints. The first vaccination clinic will be held Wednesday, Aug. 11 from 10 a.m.-12:45 p.m. in BWC 243. Pre-registration is available but walk-ins are also welcome. We intend to continue offering vaccination clinics on a regular basis as our students and employees return.
In case you missed it, Governor Walz just announced a vaccination rewards program for Minnesotans 12 years of age and older. If you receive your first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine between July 30-Aug. 15, you can submit a request for a $100 Visa gift card. Learn more about this rewards program here: https://mn.gov/covid19/100/.
The Marketing and Communications team is also preparing to launch a special gratitude vaccination campaign for our students in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for more details about how you can encourage our students to participate when we are ready to roll this out!
2021 SSC Summer Research program
This summer, 33 students and 11 faculty in the School of Sciences worked together on collaborative research projects, conducting in-depth studies in psychology, biology, biochemistry, chemistry and physics. Funding for faculty and staff participation was provided by the McNair Program, several individual research grants, donor-specific funds and the School of Sciences.
Interested in learning more about the individual projects? The students are excited to share their work! Ask to hear their “elevator” speech! Each student will present at the Undergraduate Poster Session during the 2022 Annual Scholarship and Creative Arts Week in the spring. Many will also be presenting their results at national and regional disciplinary conferences throughout the upcoming academic year.
Kudos to each and every one of these Saints for their scholarly accomplishments!
TRIO Talent Search
We are pleased to announce that the TRIO Talent Search Program has been awarded a five-year $1.56 million grant from the Department of Education that will enable them to continue the program for the next five years. Last year Talent Search celebrated 22 years of being on the CSS campus.
TRIO Talent Search is funded to serve potential first-generation, and/or low-income middle and high school students. Talent Search motivates and supports 564 students (grades 6th-12th) as they complete high school and continue into postsecondary education. The Advisors in the program work in middle and high schools in the region, serving Cloquet MS/HS, Cromwell-Wright, Duluth Denfeld, Floodwood, and Lincoln Park Middle School.
Advisors provide both group and individual services in areas such as early college and career awareness, SAT/ACT test preparation, study skills, financial aid, and college application assistance. The program also takes students on field trips to visit colleges, universities, and technical schools. In addition, the counselors provide evening programs for parents at each high school designed to prepare them to assist their student in the areas of choosing a college and applying for financial aid.
We are getting close to student-athletes reporting as fall teams begin preseason practice over the next couple of weeks with football the first team to report next Wednesday, Aug. 11.
We welcomed the MIAC Athletic Directors and Senior Women Administrators this week to campus and showed them around our facilities and the Duluth area.
The academic honors continue for our CSS teams and athletes. Todd Bouchie’s Men’s and Women’s Track & Field programs were selected as All-Academic Teams by the USTFCCCA. The women’s team GPA ranked 30th out of all the women’s NCAA Division III programs. Additionally, track & field athletes Easton Foss, Ryan Steger and Anna Becker were named All-Academic Athletes by the USTFCCCA. David Staniger’s Men’s Basketball program received the Team Academic Excellence Award from the NAB2-C with athletes Jarod Wilken, Jack Silgen, Jake Rademacher and Zach Sjoblad named to the NABC Honor Court. Finally, Kevin Moore’s Men’s Hockey program has a program-record 11 athletes recognized as All-American Scholars by the AHCA.
CSS in the news
Thank you to Dr. Sheryl Sandahl for connecting with WDIO earlier this week! This piece is a great celebration of our campus’ commitment to serve the healthcare needs of our community.
I am so grateful for all of you, how you have persevered through the ups and downs of this pandemic. It can be exhausting, as conditions move in different directions. But we are a people of hope, and as we begin our new academic year, let’s focus on our value of the year, Love of Learning, especially as we welcome our students and employees to another new beginning:
Preserving the intellectual and material heritage entrusted to us by past generations. Transmitting the treasures of human culture to new generations. Creating scholarly, artistic and scientific works which enrich and enlarge human life. Integrating thought and action as complementary aspects of a full human life.
Enjoy your weekend! Stay safe and be well,