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  • Covid 19 TF Update
    Header: Update

    The COVID-19 Task Force met Thursday, August 12th. Here are the notes from the meeting: 

    CDC community levels 

    • For 8/10/22, both Hennepin and Ramsey remain low (below 200 cases/100k population)
    • First time Hennepin remained below 200 for two weeks in a row since the end of April. (See 6-week history.)
    • No student or employee cases reported so far this week. 

    COVID-19 statement for syllabi 

    • Faculty have begun inquiring about a syllabus “COVID statement” that they can include in their syllabi for Fall. As the Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, Jennifer Bankers-Fulbright can provide this for faculty via the COVID team/other institutional admin based on this committee’s recommendation.
    • During the meeting, the Deans (Monica Devers and Ryan Haaland) told Jennifer to send a draft statement for them to review along with Provost Paula O’Loughlin. 

    Residence Life Planning

    • Mike Grewe stated that they are working on an isolation contingency plan if they run out of isolation spaces. 
    • There will still be a floor dedicated to student isolation (13th floor of Mortensen)
    • Monkeypox planning (in process) – nothing has been finalized yet. However, there will be contact tracing for Monkeypox. 
    • Plan to send an email to students sometime next week with all finalized updates. 

    Further discussion about masking at the start of fall

    • Lauren Radomski provided Staff Union Feedback based on the survey that was sent out last week- She shared that 21/23 respondents wanted a mask mandate in the fall. 
    • Athletics: Concern about how to require other teams and spectators to wear masks. 
    • Further discussion on mandate vs recommendation.
    • After the discussion, Rebecca John stated that she plans to recommend the following to the President’s office: 
    • For the first week, Augsburg is going to ask that everyone wear a mask indoors where there are other people around. This will be neither a mandate nor a recommendation, but instead will be a direct ask.
    • Start date for the masking ask at Augsburg: First day of classes on August 31st through Friday, September 9th. 

    HEPA Filter Machines

    • Someone in the task force brought up that they are not clear on the management of the HEPA filter machines across campus. 
    • John Knowles stated: “Our team will check the machines as part of our pre-Fall classroom checks. Facilities is able to replace if they are not working.”
    • Make sure your HEPA filter machines are on and if they are not working, put in a work order request to facilities. 

    Updated CDC guidance (issued Aug. 11, 2022) 

    • Known exposure: Protocol for those with boosters now applies to everyone: mask for 10 days, test on day 5-7 (or sooner if symptoms present) 
    • Isolation: Same 5 day isolation, with masking days 6-10 and notifying close contacts, but now there’s an option to mask only until they receive two consecutive negative test results, with tests taken at least 48 hours apart. For some people, though, this might mean they will need to continue masking longer than 10 days. 
    • The Outbreak Planning site, automated email content, and logic will be updated to reflect these changes. 
    • Contact Tracing for COVID: When some reports that they are positive via the reporting form, the student, faculty and/or staff that reported they were positive will receive the instructions to contact the people that were exposed to them to let them know.

    We have a Google Form available for Augsburg Staff Union members to ask questions to be brought up at the COVID Task Force meetings. We received one question this week about contact tracing on campus. This was addressed during the meeting today during the updated CDC guidance discussion. 

    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
    Header: Update

    Dear Colleagues,

    The COVID-19 Task Force met Thursday, August 4th. The main focus of the meeting was a discussion on a potential mask mandate for the first two weeks of the fall semester. Here are the notes from the meeting and next steps that we need from you:

    Next steps for Augsburg Staff Union Members:

    We want your feedback! Please complete the following short google form about your opinion and reasoning to either have a mask mandate at the start of the semester or to not have a mask mandate at the start of the semester. Please refer to the meeting notes listed below for more context about the discussion that was had at the COVID task force meeting. 

    Start of Fall Mask Mandate Google Form

    Meeting notes:

    Dashboard update

    • As of mid-last week, case rates were still fairly steady in Hennepin and Ramsey counties, but Hennepin County rate eked just above the CDC medium threshold. Ramsey County numbers all were in low community level. MPR calls it a “slow burn.”
    • Campus case rates remain manageable, though student case numbers ticked up this past week.
    • Potential draft messages and signage are ready if community level reach “high” and we would need to consider reinstating the mask mandate.
    • A decision to move to a potential mask mandate will continue to be evaluated weekly based on community levels and institution level factors.

    Minnesota Department of Health Updates

    • Variants
      • BA.4 omicron sub variant accounts for 85 percent of cases in HHS Region 5 (Midwest)
      • New sublineage, BA.2.75, increasing in frequency and has been identified in MN; does not seem to show greater immune evasion than BA.5
    • Overview of mitigation strategies for 2022-23
      • Base decisions on institution-level factors (vaccine coverage, ability to detect transmission, population risk of severe disease, masking policy, ventilation) in combination with COVID-19 Community Levels
      • Sliding scale of efforts in: vaccination policy, testing access, testing strategies, isolation space, masking, and ventilation
    • New reporting guidelines and new REDCAP form launching next week at COVID coordinator training
    • Monkeypox update (39 confirmed cases in MN)

    Chronicle Article: Higher ed vaccine mandates significantly decreased COVID deaths

    Start of Fall Mask Mandate Discussion (no decisions for recommendations were made in the meeting)

    • Discussed recommending a return-to-school indoor mask mandate (potentially starting Th, 8/25, expiring Sa 9/10, provided that Hennepin County is in low or medium level)
    • It was talked about starting it earlier on the 22nd because of student move-in times.
    • We discussed what would be the ultimate goal of the mask mandate. Here are the comments mentioned in the meeting:
      • To reduce potential spread of COVID-19 at the start of the semester because of the amount of people that will be returning to campus and attending larger on-campus events.
      • To minimize disruption at the start of classes for better student success.
    • The following questions and comments were discussed at the meeting:
      • Does it make sense to have masking at only large events and classrooms, or at all indoor common areas except for designated eating spaces?
      • We also discussed that the type of mask is really important (n95 & kn95). We have to indicate what type of mask is effective in order to actually reduce transmission. Mike Grewe is trying to work with Student Government to obtain some KN95s before first-year move-in. There wouldn’t be a large stock of masks, but there would be some.
      • Even if we don’t have 100% compliance, a mask mandate would still help reduce transmission.
      • Does this mean athletes will have to wear masks when playing?
      • Should this be a mask mandate or a recommendation?
      • Macalester will have a mask mandate at the start of fall.
      • Because there has not been a significant amount of people masking in the community, we need to determine why we would be reinstating a mask mandate on campus for the first two weeks if Hennepin County is not at a high community level.
      • To what extent will it be enforced if a mask mandate is implemented?
    • We ultimately did not come to a decision to recommend because of the amount of factors that still need to be considered at this time. We all agreed to reach out to the departments and groups that we represent and gather more feedback on this topic before we meet again next week.

    Here is the Google Form link again to complete with your feedback:

    We did not get to other items on the agenda at the meeting. As a result, we will be meeting again next week to continue our discussion on the potential of a mask mandate for the first two weeks of classes in fall and address remaining agenda items:

    • Task Force Meeting Schedule
    • COVID-19 statement for syllabi
    • Residence Life planning

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

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