The “finals” countdown: For a quarantine-free Finals Week, keep that guard up a little while longer, Orediggers – Finals start a week from today, and the anticipation on campus is high. The end of the semester, summer break and commencement are almost here. But you know what else is high right now? The number of COVID-19 cases on campus. More details can be found below in the weekly COVID-19 Dashboard Update, but in a nutshell, COVID-19 cases on campus are currently at the highest levels they’ve been all semester – and approaching last year’s highs, from early November.
So, what does that mean for all of us? Now’s really not the time to let your guard down. Instead, a little extra vigilance from us all will go a long way toward keeping our community safe and helping you (and your friends) avoid getting quarantined during finals.
Got a study group?
- Find a large conference room or classroom, spread out and keep your masks on.
- Make sure everyone in the group is healthy. Feeling even a little under the weather? Join via Zoom instead.
- Take breaks to go outside and let the air in the room turn over and freshen up.
- Masks, shorter time blocks and distance can keep you and your study group healthy.
- Do not gather indoors with multiple households.
- Mask up indoors and outdoors if you’re with people who aren’t vaccinated yet.
- Alcohol, marijuana and other substances can make it difficult to maintain the necessary vigilance.
Mask up, mask up, mask up
- Always wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth while indoors in public places.
- This rule applies to all campus buildings, unless you are ALONE in a private office or laboratory, or actively eating/drinking, and to all Orediggers, whether you’re fully vaccinated or not.
As of today, even a modified quarantine (allowing a return to campus activities following a negative test on Day 7 of quarantine) will extend into Finals Week, scheduled for May 7-8 and May 10-12. Students under quarantine will not be permitted to attend any in-person finals and will have to work with their professors to take those finals remotely or schedule an alternate test date after their quarantine is over.
COVID-19 Dashboard Update: Test positivity rate at 3.81 percent, up from 0.91 percent the previous week – The Mines COVID-19 dashboard was updated today, revealing 90 active cases on campus. A total of 2,281 testswere completed last week, with a positivity rate of 3.81 percent. Additional case details are available here.
There are now seven active outbreaks on campus, in Spruce Hall, Beta Theta Pi, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Randall Hall and Mines Athletics (baseball, softball and football). CDPHE defines outbreaks as two or more individuals within a cohort (facility, business, non-household group) who have tested positive for COVID-19 within a 14-day period. The state’s outbreak report is updated each Wednesday at covid19.colorado.gov/covid19-outbreak-data.
NOTE: Outbreaks remain active in the state database until 28 days have passed without a positive case. That means a cohort (residence hall floor or house) could have already been released from quarantine, with no additional cases/transmission identified, but is still considered an “active” outbreak by the state. We have removed cohorts that have already been released from quarantine from this message.
Another reason to get vaccinated: No quarantining – The Mines COVID-19 Response Initiator Team (CRIT) this week had to quarantine a number of students to slow the spread of the virus on our campus. But at least three of the students who were to be quarantined based on close contact with a positive case were on, and quickly off, that list. The reason? They are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. If you’re interested in getting vaccinated, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment maintains an up-to-date list of vaccination sites around our area. Jefferson County Public Health and partners are also hosting a bunch of community vaccine clinics in the coming weeks —with appointments available as soon as tomorrow. See the full JCPH list here.
Commencement update: Face masks now required for graduates and guests – In line with new guidance from Jefferson County Public Health, all graduates, guests and staff will be required to wear face masks that cover their nose and mouth at all times during Spring Commencement, scheduled for May 13-15. Masks will be available for anyone who arrives without one. All attendees are also asked to self-screen for COVID-19 or flu-like symptoms prior to the commencement ceremony. Anyone exhibiting symptoms should not attend and will be denied entry. Additionally, anyone who has been informed they were a close contact of someone with COVID-19 and need to quarantinemust abide by that quarantine and participate in the ceremony virtually.
Volunteers are still needed for Spring Commencement, particularly for Class of 2020 celebration on May 15. Sign up here to volunteer for Spring Commencement. For more information about Spring Commencement, go to commencement.mines.edu.
Campus leadership: No decision yet on whether Mines will require COVID-19 vaccination – In response to the announcement earlier this week that a number of Colorado universities will require students and employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 for Fall 2021, Mines executive leadership sent a message to campus to answer questions about Mines’ stance on the issue. “At this time, we ask for your patience as we examine our options and work with our partners at the local and state levels to determine the appropriate policies and practices for Mines,” they wrote. Input from Mines community members will be collected over the next two weeks through the following mechanisms:
- Student Life will seek input from students, primarily through USG and GSG.
- The Provost’s Office will seek input from faculty, primarily through Faculty Senate.
- Vice presidents will arrange mechanisms to obtain input from their respective staff.
In the meantime, Mines continues to “strongly encourage all of our faculty, staff and students to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as you are able. Vaccinations are now readily available in Colorado in and most states to anyone 16 or older. Evidence shows vaccines are safe and effective in preventing serious illness from COVID-19 and vaccinated individuals are less likely to spread the virus.” Read the full message on the Mines Climbs Together website.
What does it mean to be “fully vaccinated”? A quick explainer, in two easy questions – We get it: There’s a lot of new vocabulary related to the pandemic. Quarantine, isolation, PCR tests, antibody tests – it can be hard to keep everything straight. And now there’s the term “fully vaccinated.” Here’s a quick explainer of what it means, via two easy questions.
For the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines:
1. Have you received both shots of the Pfizer/Moderna vaccine? Yes or No
2. Have two weeks passed since you received the second dose of the Pfizer/Moderna vaccine? Yes or No
For the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine:
1. Have you received a single dose of the J&J vaccine? Yes or No
2. Have two weeks passed since you received your single dose of the J&J vaccine? Yes or No
If you answered “no” to any of the questions above (based on the vaccine you received), you are NOT fully vaccinated and should continue to take the same precautions as though you haven’t received any doses at all (See the helpful explainer in last week’s Mines Climbs Together email).
Reminder: Fully vaccinated members of the Mines community are still required to abide by the Oredigger Promise. That includes wearing a face mask inside any campus facility, unless you are alone in a private office/lab or actively eating/drinking. Research has shown that vaccination works very well both to prevent disease and to decrease transmission. But here in Jefferson County, less than half of residents (43.3 percent) are fully vaccinated. Until case rates are lower, we need to continue to wear masks and distance in public places, as well as practice good hand washing etiquette.
Before you go, have you shared your vaccination status with Mines yet? – If you have received all the necessary doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, the Mines COVID-19 Response Initiator Team (CRIT) wants to know. Mines faculty, staff and students who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (two doses of Pfizer/Moderna or single dose of Johnson & Johnson) are asked to report their vaccination status to Mines via this secure and easy-to-use portal. (In between doses? Wait until after your second shot to report.)
- Students: After submitting the form, don’t forget to upload a copy of your vaccination record to the Student Health Center, via Trailhead.
- Employees: At this time, CRIT is not asking for a copy of your vaccination card. In the near future, we hope to have a secure portal to allow staff and faculty to upload an image of their vaccination card.
Providing this information will help university leadership make informed operational decisions for Fall 2021. As a reminder, our plan is a fully in-person living and learning experience with pre-pandemic classroom capacities. Widespread community vaccination is one way to ensure we can stick with that plan.