Blog

Covid 19 Task Force Update

Dear Colleagues,

The COVID-19 Task Force meeting was canceled for this week due to there being no MDH meeting. May 5th will be the next scheduled time that the task force will meet. However, here are the latest notes Rebecca John sent on community level tracking:

  • As of Tuesday, April 26, cases in Hennepin and Ramsey counties are still in the low range per CDC (<200 per 100K population)
  • Cases are still growing, but at a slightly lower rate this week. 
    • Case rates could move into the medium level by the end of the week. 
    • At the medium level, CDC recommends that people who are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe disease talk to a healthcare provider about whether they need to wear a mask and take other precautions.
  • If the community rate moves to the medium level later this week:
    • The April 30 Dashboard will report that change
    • Messaging about the medium community level, with a link to the Dashboard, will be posted in A-mail and sent out via email early next week
    • Augsburg will post signage at major events next week (commencement, Board Meeting, campaign kick off event) noting that the region is at a moderate level and those with high risks should consider precautions, including wearing a mask indoors or in crowded spaces
  • Augsburg will not be implementing any new or additional mitigation protocols if/when the regional community rate moves to moderate. This is consistent with CDC guidance. 

In the meantime, we set up a Google Form so Augsburg Staff Union members could state their questions or concerns to be addressed at the meeting. We did not receive any questions this week.Urgent questions related to COVID-19 should not be submitted via the Google Form, those questions should continue to be sent to helpline@augsburg.edu, calling 612-474-3100, and/or by using the Augsburg self-reporting form.

The staff union representative will continue to send weekly updates based on information gathered in the COVID Task Force meetings and questions asked in the google form.

Saturday’s Rally

Dear Colleagues,

Saturday’s rally was an incredible showing of solidarity. Our resolve to finish this contract with a living wage and affordable healthcare was on full display for the community to see.

We heard moving speeches from staff and student leaders that touched on all aspects of how austerity affects them at Augsburg: A staff member rationing medical care because they can’t afford it; A student feeling like they have no representation in essential staff services; Departments being asked to cover for vacancies in ways that go far beyond their job descriptions and expertise; Potential applicants walking away from their dream jobs here because they can’t support their families with what’s offered; Students watching staff they built trust with have to leave after just a semester or two, and wondering if anyone will be hired to replace them.

The problem is clear to us. Staff turnover is catastrophically high. It impacts us–our workloads double or triple with no additional compensation or title change. It impacts students–they are left without vital support services. Staff leave because we are not supported.

President Pribbenow, stop the bleeding. We need to offer competitive wages and affordable healthcare. We cannot continue calling ourselves a progressive institution while also offering healthcare that ranks dead last in affordability amongst our peer institutions. The proposals that we have on the table are progressive and aim to keep and attract staff. Our proposals build structures for collaboration and growth for the whole campus community.

We will continue to show our solidarity until this contract is finished. Whether it’s a rally or a petition or simply using a Zoom background, one thing has remained clear: we’re not going anywhere. Our support for our union is just as strong as it was when we won it one year, three months, and 18 days ago.

Stay tuned.

Here are some wonderful pictures of our rally taken by friend of our union, Marc Hardaker!

Covid 19 TF Update

Dear Colleagues,The COVID-19 Task Force met this week on April 21st. Here are the notes from the meeting:

Minnesota Department of Health Updates

  • Community level: Minnesota remains low
  • Federal judge voided CDC’s mask mandate for public transit, which was to last through May 3; CDC continues to recommend masking on mass transit
  • Shared studies on increased cardiovascular risk for up to a year after having COVID
  • COVID-19 treatments now widely available for people at high risk of severe disease, but requires advanced planning because it needs to be taken early after testing positive

Dashboard Updates

  • Community transmission level remains low, but growth rate is increasing
  • Wastewater surveillance also showing uptick in the prevalence of the virus in the metro area
  • At Friday’s growth rate (7-day avg vs prior week), would expect cases in Hennepin County reach moderate community level by end of April
  • On campus, cases among students remain very low

Testing and vaccine on campus

  • Final vaccine event yesterday
  • Final on-campus testing event today
  • There are a few leftover vault tests (can be used until Dec. 31)- Going to be available in the library for pick up by tomorrow, April 22nd

Student Vaccine Policy Status

  • The benefit of continuing the vaccine policy for students (i.e., upload vaccination info or submit vaccination exemption form) is a higher percentage of vaccinated students over time
  • Collecting the data:
    • Will need to continue to have students upload their vaccination information because we need info such as dates, boosters 
    • Current vaccination policy relies on K-12 records of in-state students, which does not include SARS-CoV-2 vaccinations 
    • Hoping to make is as convenient for new students as possible by starting to communicate this summer, giving them more lead time to upload their info 
  • It was stated in the meeting that it is currently not recommended to continue to use account holds for students out of compliance with the policy; will rely primarily on reminders

Future meetings

  • Consider shifting to every other week to align with the MDH briefing schedule
  • In the meeting today, we agreed to continue to have the meeting time blocked on our calendars each week at this time in case something changes with the case rate in the next few weeks.

We set up a Google Form so Augsburg Staff Union members could state their questions or concerns to be addressed at the meeting. We did not receive any questions this week.

Please note, urgent questions related to COVID-19 should not be submitted via the Google Form, those questions should continue to be sent to helpline@augsburg.edu, calling 612-474-3100, and/or by using the Augsburg self-reporting form.

The staff union representative will continue to send weekly updates based on information gathered in the COVID Task Force meetings and questions asked in the google form.

Covid 19 TF Update

Dear Colleagues, 

The COVID-19 Task Force meeting was cancelled for last week. April 21st will be the next scheduled time that the task force will meet. At the next meeting, one item that will be discussed is whether these meetings will be moved to every other week in order to align with the updates from the Minnesota Department of Health.  In the meantime, we set up a Google Form so Augsburg Staff Union members could state their questions or concerns to be addressed at the meeting. We received the following question this week: 

  • Q: Which vaccine will be given at the April 20 vaccine event, Pfizer or Moderna? 
  • A: Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will be available at the event. 

Additionally, urgent questions related to COVID-19 should not be submitted via the Google Form, those questions should continue to be sent to helpline@augsburg.edu, calling 612-474-3100, and/or by using the Augsburg self-reporting form.   The staff union representative will continue to send weekly updates based on information gathered in the COVID Task Force meetings and questions asked in the google form.

Auggies Against Austerity Rally

Dear Colleagues,


Please join us on Saturday, April 23rd as we hold a rally to tell the administration that we want to finish this contract!
The rally will be in Murphy Square from 11 am to 1 pm on April 23rd.
Please fill out this form to confirm you are going: https://forms.gle/Vh7UHCL7G8KmQnkp9
Here is the Facebook event for the rally: https://fb.me/e/3Riue4NEf
Friends, family, neighbors, students, and faculty are invited!


Why are we rallying?
Bargaining is going on too long and the administration’s positions are untenable. The Administration’s wage proposal would result in a paltry increase to only four positions represented by our union, and includedonly a 1% annual raise for three years. The administration’s healthcare counter proposal is nonexistent. They think that our healthcare costs are fine as is. Take a look at how just our family plan stacks up to local colleges and other private ELCA colleges:

Needless to say, the administration’s vision cannot go into our contract. Our Staff Union and our contract should reflect our shared vision for us to thrive and work now and into the future. We’re disappointed in the Administration’s resistance to our progressive proposals throughout bargaining. We want to work together. We want to build a better Augsburg together. We’ve seen that they want to merely keep things the way they were. This is not sustainable.
We know from our union siblings across the country, and from history, that when we show solidarity–when we rally together–we move forward. 
We will make gains with this contract. We will build a better Augsburg, together! 
Join us to rally on Saturday, April 23rd. It will be a day of joy and solidarity!

Covid 19 task force update

Dear Colleagues, 

The COVID-19 Task Force met this week on April 7th. Here are the notes from the meeting: 

Minnesota Department of Health Updates

  • COVID rates remain low. For week of 3/6 (most recent available statewide data) 25% of MN specimens identified as BA.2. Initial data (Feb. 2022) suggests BA.2 is more transmissible than BA.1, but the difference appears to be much smaller than the difference between Delta and BA.1.
  • In higher education, MDH is not seeing a lot of cases – no clusters/outbreaks in higher ed in the last couple of weeks. Campus cases continue here and there (not zero) but are pretty quiet currently. 
  • MDH will not be updating general events and gathering guidance; deferring to CDC.
  • Updated guidance for youth programs and summer camps
  • Overview of Minnesota’s COVID-19 Testing Master Contract Program
  • Federal funding supporting testing at IHEs will continue through June 30; possible extension unclear at this time

Dashboard Updates

  • All data were low in the 4/2 report – regional transmission declines have leveled off but no sign of a surge at this point
  • In the metro area, wastewater surveillance indicates that the omicron BA.2 variant has been the dominant variant since late March.

Testing and vaccine on campus

  • Testing events on campus will continue on Mondays and Thursdays, 4:30 – 6:30 p.m., through April 21.
  • Vaccine events March 30 and April 20
  • 32 people (including 21 Augsburg students) got shots at first event
  • Everyone got a $50 gift card, plus the students who won the drawing got an additional $25.
  • On April 20, will also be able to administer a second booster to those who are eligible:
  • People age 50 years and older.
  • People age 12-49 years who have certain immunocompromising conditions.
  • People age 18 and older who received Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine for their initial dose and booster dose.
  • In addition to the above listed criteria, it needs to be at least four months since receiving the first booster.

Campus Clear Update

  • Continued slight declining use of app. Usual slide down towards end of semester.
  • Who is using it staying consistent for last few months (faculty/staff/student ratios).
  • Only April and May are left to use CampusClear.

Student COVID vaccine mandate for fall

  • Will coordinate with Admissions and Student Affairs (and keeping Registrar’s Office in the loop) to confirm the process for new students to provide COVID vaccination verification.
  • Goal is to leverage existing outreach and make the process as streamlined for students as possible while still providing COVID-specific info as needed. 

We set up a Google Form so Augsburg Staff Union members could state their questions or concerns to be addressed at the meeting. We did not receive any questions this week.  

Please note, urgent questions related to COVID-19 should not be submitted via the Google Form, those questions should continue to be sent to helpline@augsburg.edu, calling 612-474-3100, and/or by using the Augsburg self-reporting form.   

The staff union representative will continue to send weekly updates based on information gathered in the COVID Task Force meetings and questions asked in the google form.

Administration wage proposal

Dear Colleagues,
The administration gave us a response to our wage proposal at the March 23rd bargaining session.
Though we appreciate that there is finally a written counter proposal from admin on the table, we expected better.

Here’s a summary:

  • Minimum salary
  • Non-Administrative (hourly): $18.00/hour
  • Administrative /Professional (hourly): $19.00/hour
  • Assistant Coach/Athletic staff: $40,000 annually
  • All other bargaining-unit positions:* $43,000 annually
  • *Exclusive of residence life
  • Longevity Increases
  • 1% increase on an employee’s third, sixth, and ninth anniversary. 
  • Annual increases
  • 1% cost of living adjustment per year for 3 years.

It goes without saying we’re unsatisfied with these and will continue to bargain for a living wage for all staff.
Their proposal does not address our equity goals. The rates are simply too low. We know what it’s like trying to raise a family or build retirement savings or pay off student loans on a $40k/year salary. It’s not easy. It leads you to be constantly looking for better opportunities elsewhere. We want to work at Augsburg, but we also want Augsburg to pay us a living wage to work here.
We also take issue with the arbitrary divide between athletics and non-athletics staff and between residence life staff that the administration has created. That’s not the kind of division we want to see in the contract.
Our proposal laid out salary step increases on a 10 year scale. Theirs says 1% per year for just 3 years. That would mean that even that little amount could be taken away next time the contract renews.

Covid 19 task force update

Dear Colleagues,

The COVID-19 Task Force had a meeting on Thursday, March 24th. Here are the meeting notes from the Augsburg Staff Union representative.

Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Updates:

  • COVID rates are low, expected to be even better in the 3/24 CDC Community Levels report. MDH is seeing upticks in norovirus, influenza, etc.
  • Reported late Feb/early March data for BA.2 in MN. Shared in the chat: BA.2 subvariant at about 40% of virus in metro wastewater reports
  • Testing reporting changes (shared with Robert Gould and Cyndi Berg who are managing testing at Augsburg)· Still using CDC guidance as updated MDH guidance is still working its way through the process (some of the delay is ongoing changes). Of the three current MDH higher ed guidance pieces, MDH noted they will likely retire the mitigation piece and defer to CDC. (The other two guidance pieces are (1) scenario levels guidance and (2) cases and outbreaks guidance.)
  • Discussion of “medium” community levels, during which people which higher risks should consider masking. Per MDH, at an institutional level, a medium community level doesn’t suggest mask mandates, but we should be ready to communicate the range of potential risk, which is likely more extensive than people realize. Therapeutics are available for people at higher risk – public health guidance is to talk with your physician.
  • Presented an online isolation/quarantine calculator, but the link to the calculator was not provided in the meeting. Dashboard
  • update:· All data were low in the 3/19 report – daily updates to local transmission levels have gone even lower since.·  Metrics monitoring presentation at 3/23 ADSG meeting

Testing and Vaccine on Campus Update

  • Vaccine events March 30 and April 20
  • Targeted resident student and student-athlete lists provided to Residence Life and Athletics to promote the vaccination events. (Many on those lists may be boosted but just have not updated their info, so this outreach will help with that.) 
  • We need 1-2 volunteers each hour between 10 am and 2 pm each day. Please sign up on this sheet. I’ll be posting this call for volunteers in A-mail as well.

Campus Clear Ending in May

  • Ivy.ai who provides CampusClear (for free) is ending support for it on May 31st, 2022

We set up a Google Form so Augsburg Staff Union members could state their questions or concerns to be addressed at the meeting. We received the following questions this week:

  • Question: “CDC website doesn’t have any language around masks or testing regarding unvax vs vax, they simply state anyone in high transmission areas should mask and test, so if cases are at 0 on campus, when will unvaccinated not be required to test weekly? All cdc language states that fully vaccinated or up to date is 2 doses with a booster. If booster is recommended after 5 months of initial 2 doses, why is the new covid policy for 22-23 school year not including boosters as fully vaccinated?
  • Answer: Dawn Miller stated that this would need to be discussed at the bargaining table for further clarification. This question was passed onto the Augsburg Staff Union bargaining team. More information on bargaining over Covid-19 policy will be announced, following yesterday’s bargaining session.

For the second part of the question, Rebecca John stated that “CDC makes a clear distinction between fully vaccinated (primary series) and boosted: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/stay-up-to-date.html.” 

Please note: Urgent questions related to COVID-19 should not be submitted via the Google Form, those questions should continue to be sent to helpline@augsburg.edu, calling 612-474-3100, and/or by using the Augsburg self-reporting form.  

 The staff union representative will continue to send weekly updates based on information gathered in the COVID Task Force meetings and questions asked in the google form.

Covid 19 Task Force Update

Dear Colleagues, The COVID-19 Task Force had a meeting on Thursday, March 10th. Here are the meeting notes from the Augsburg Staff Union representative.

Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Updates: 

  • MDH meetings are now every other week, and this week’s was canceled, so there will be no MDH updates until the week after spring break unless a significant change occurs

Dashboardupdate:

  • Dashboard updated to align with new CDC community level guidance.
  • Augsburg’s on campus case rate remained low. 
  • Cases in Hennepin County fell below 100 per 100,000 population for the first time since July 2021. 
  • Hospitalization metrics for both Hennepin and Ramsey counties are also at a low level.
  • Visit the CDC Data Tracker for more information:https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#datatracker-home

Lifting indoor mask mandate

  • Rebecca John talked about the overview of discussions with the University Council and President’s Leadership Team about the decision to lift the mask mandate. The decision was made based on the current data and will continue to be monitored and reassessed.
  • Residence hall guest policy will be lifted in alignment with the mask mandate. Residence life will be sending an announcement that students will be able to now have guests from the community in their residence hall.
  • During the task force meeting, it was discussed that we may need to go back to a mask mandate in the future. Augsburg will be continuing to monitor case rates and adjust as needed.
  • The question about if staff/faculty/students are allowed to ask others to wear a mask when they are meeting with them was discussed as well. Rebecca John stated that there is no official policy about this, but that we are asking everyone in the Augsburg community to be mindful and respectful of others. It was also suggested that if someone does ask that another person wear a mask when meeting, that the person asking would need to be prepared to provide them with a mask. It was also mentioned that if people would feel more comfortable meeting via Zoom, that is still an option available.

CampusClear data for February

  • In the usual semester decline in reporting (peaks first month and then declines until a new term)
  • Who is reporting (faculty/staff/student)- the same as last month

Testing and vaccine on campus

  • Testing started this week, will resume after spring break
  • Vax clinic March 30 and April 20

Covid-19 Policy Survey

The Contract Action Team wants your feedback! Please fill outthis short survey regarding the supplemental Covid-19 policy

There will be no COVID-19 Task Force meeting next week, the week of spring break. We set up a Google Form so Augsburg Staff Union members could state their questions or concerns to be addressed at the meeting. We did not receive any questions this week. Please note: Urgent questions related to COVID-19 should not be submitted via the Google Form, those questions should continue to be sent to helpline@augsburg.edu, calling 612-474-3100, and/or by using the Augsburg self-reporting form.   

The staff union representative will continue to send weekly updates based on information gathered in the COVID Task Force meetings and questions asked in the google form.