Dear Mines faculty and staff,
Even with the vaccination campaign already underway in Colorado, we know that returning to campus – and staying together all spring – will require a shared re-commitment from all of us to COVID-19 safety measures.
That means doubling down on the Oredigger Promise by wearing a mask on campus, maintaining appropriate physical distance from others, staying home when sick – even if your symptoms seem mild – and washing your hands frequently with soap and water.
With the spring semester underway, we wanted to share some information about what the university is doing to ensure we all – students, faculty and staff – have a safe and successful spring semester.
What we know about transmission on campus: Classrooms aren’t a significant source
The Mines Pandemic Response Team learned a lot this fall about managing the spread of COVID-19 on campus. Those lessons have been built into Mines’ spring semester plans. When it comes to transmission, we are still digging into the data from the fall semester, but early indications tell us that the layout and occupancy adjustments we made to classrooms and dining halls, and the controls implemented in the Student Recreation Center, have proven effective. Those adjustments to buildings, occupancies and controls will remain in place for Spring 2021 and we will continually evaluate them based on current conditions on campus, the Denver area and Colorado.
Where Mines is not seeing significant COVID-19 transmission:
- Lecture halls
- Student Recreation Center
- Dining halls
- Many of our residence halls
Person-to-person transmission is happening in:
- Small group gatherings
- Dinner parties
- Study groups
- Shared housing where the positive case cannot effectively isolate from housemates
- Going home on the weekends to visit family and friends
- Social events, like parties
For more on the lessons learned from Fall 2020, go to mines.edu/coronavirus/covid-19-what-weve-learned.
COVID-19 testing program expanding to include random testing of off-campus residents
This semester, all registered students will have access to testing through COVIDCheck Colorado, on the Mines campus or any other CCC testing site. Also new this semester, students who are not already part of another regular testing group will randomly be selected each week to test as part of Mines’ COVID-19 Surveillance Testing Program. This should give us a better sense of the prevalence of COVID-19 among our students who do not live in campus housing and allow us to respond more quickly to potential off-campus outbreaks.
All campus residents (residence halls, 1750 Jackson and sorority and fraternity houses) will continue to be tested once a week during the spring semester – which is the same increased testing cadence we established after Thanksgiving Break. Student athletes will also be tested at least weekly.
For the latest campus case counts, go to mines.edu/coronavirus/covid-19-cases (the dashboard will be updated daily Monday-Friday).
Free testing remains available for Mines faculty, staff and their families
All Mines faculty and staff can sign up for testing on campus or at any COVIDCheck testing site at: primarybio.com/a/mines. A Mines CWID is required.
COVIDCheck Colorado also offers free testing to the general community – including family members and non-Mines housemates of Mines faculty, staff and students – through funding provided by the State of Colorado. Those without a Mines CWID can sign up for a COVID19 test at: primarybio.com/l/cdphe.
This semester, we continue to encourage faculty, staff, teaching assistants, research assistants and other student employees working on campus to participate in Mines’ free COVID-19 Surveillance Testing Program. Participation is voluntary, although we ask that you consider getting tested regularly, such as once a week, to help Mines better assess the health of the campus through prevalence surveillance.
COVIDCheck Colorado’s expanded hours will also remain in place until further notice, giving us the capacity to make on-campus testing available to Mines employee and their family members. If you are symptomatic or have been notified of close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case, please sign up for testing as soon as possible.
The test site on the Mines campus has a significant portion of its testing hours – currently 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday-Friday – reserved for Mines students, faculty and staff.
State-mandated COVID-19 leave available if you or a loved one gets sick
Senate Bill 20-205, the Healthy Families and Workplaces Act, was signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis last year, extending and expanding the sick leave first offered in the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Among other things, the act provides hourly employees (including student workers) with accrued sick leave up to 48 hours annually. This can be accessed for covering time lost for COVID-19 testing, or as a result of a positive test or need to quarantine.
The act also provides up to 80 hours of additional paid sick leave to full-time employees dealing with COVID-19 or another public health emergency, without requiring employees to tap into their accrued sick leave balance. This includes taking time off to quarantine or get tested for COVID-19 when employees suspect they have been exposed to someone who may have the virus, or to care for a family member who is self-isolating or in need of diagnosis/treatment due to COVID-19.
Thank you again for all your hard work and commitment to Mines and our students. If you have any questions, let us know through the online form on the Mines Climbs Together website and we’ll answer it in a future campus update: mines.edu/coronavirus/spring-2021-information.
Kirsten M. Volpi, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
Peter Han, Chief of Staff