Spring Break is here! Here’s to a fun and safe week off – We made it, Orediggers. Spring Break officially begins tomorrow, and man, are we excited. Get out there, get some much-earned R&R and have some fun! Our one ask: Don’t throw COVID-19 safety to the wind while you’re at it. The more we all make smart choices and minimize viral spread during Spring Break, the less likely that Mines will experience large outbreaks and quarantines after we reconvene for the remainder of the semester. And remember: No one wants to be in quarantine during E-Days.

Here are four quick tips for a COVID-19 safe Spring Break: 

  • Think critically about the risk of activities. It’s not just raucous parties in Miami Beach that are a COVID-19 concern. Family gatherings are known viral transmission points – no matter their size – and both Easter and Passover are observed during break this year.
    • Outdoor activities are always preferable to indoor activities.
    • If you do gather, always keep your distance (at least 6 feet) from anyone you don’t live with during the school year. That includes family members, unless you live at home full-time.
    • Avoid large crowds.
    • When indoors, improve ventilation by opening windows and doors or by placing central air and heating on continuous circulation if you can.
  • Wear a face mask that fits snugly when you are around others – regardless of the requirements of the state you’re in. Wear a cloth mask with multiple layers of fabric or, if you prefer, a disposable mask under a cloth mask.
    • Masks are still required in public in Colorado.
    • Masks are also required on planes, buses, trains and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within or out of the U.S. and in U.S. transportation hubs, such as airports and stations.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water. If you don’t have access to soap and water, use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Plan to get tested when you return to Golden. Sign up for a FREE COVID-19 test on campus at https://www.primarybio.com/a/mines
    • All students living in residence halls and fraternity and sorority houses are required to test twice a week following Spring Break.
    • Off-campus residents are asked to get tested the week after Spring Break and continue to test regularly for the remainder of the semester.

During the week after Spring Break (April 5-10), Mines will be carefully assessing the viral situation on campus. All students are asked to scale back their activities during the week – and until they have received the results of a COVID-19 test. To support this assessment period, all Mines Dining locations will be take-out only, and indoor student events will be limited.

COVID-19 testing over Spring Break: COVIDCheck Colorado not changing hours next week – Find yourself in need (or in want) of a COVID-19 test next week? COVIDCheck Colorado will be operating under normal hours Monday-Saturday.

  • Monday-Friday: 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. (10 a.m. to 3 p.m. reserved for Mines community members)
  • Saturday: 7 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Make an appointment today to get tested for FREE on campus (or at the COVIDCheck Colorado location nearest you) at primarybio.com/a/mines.

Contact tracers are here to help, not get you in trouble – Contact tracing is an important part of stopping the spread of COVID-19 on campus, and all Orediggers are asked to treat our in-house contract tracers, the Mines COVID-19 Response Initiator Team (CRIT), the same as you would your professor or any other university staff member – with respect and appreciation for their hard work and dedication to keeping our campus community safe.

In the past year, CRIT has logged more than 3,300 interactions with community members and assisted nearly 800 Orediggers who have contracted COVID-19. CRIT works seven days a week on behalf of the Mines community. They conduct contact tracing with trust, compassion, conviction and commitment to the goal of keeping students learning in the classroom.

You can return the favor by:

  • Being honest and accurate about your activities and interactions if you are contacted by CRIT: Trust is a vital part of effective contact tracing – CRIT trusts you to provide complete and accurate information. Please trust in return that CRIT has everyone’s best interest at heart.

  • Asking questions in a respectful manner: CRIT is here to guide you through the process of quarantine and isolation. If you don’t understand a directive, ask for an explanation. We’re Orediggers, too, and we’re here to help.

  • Responding to CRIT messages, texts and calls in a timely fashion: If you receive a call, text or email from CRIT, all it means is you’ve tested positive for COVID-19 or potentially been in close contact with someone else who has. Rapid intervention is one of our best weapons against the spread of COVID-19 on campus, and that starts with timely contact tracing.

Check out this Instagram post from our friends at Boston University for a fun look at contact tracing myths and realities. We all have an obligation to actively participate in slowing the spread of COVID-19 on campus by reporting illness, reporting exposures and assisting in the contact tracing process.

COVID-19 Dashboard Update: Test positivity rising on campus – The Mines COVID-19 dashboard was updated today, revealing 23 active cases on campus. A total of 1,945 tests were completed last week, with a positivity rate of 1.65 percent. Additional case details are available here.

Three outbreaks remain active on campus, in Spruce Hall, Sigma Phi Epsilon and Beta Theta Pi. 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.

Reminder: Student employees working on campus are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines – It’s not just faculty and staff who are eligible for vaccination under Phase 1B.4 of Colorado’s vaccination plan. All student-facing student employees (student workers who interact with other students as part of their job) can and should sign up for a vaccine appointment as soon as they are able. That includes:

  • Teaching assistants
  • Resident assistants
  • Student workers in the library, Student Rec Center, Student Center and department offices
  • Peer mentors
  • Research assistants
  • Summer camp counselors

The state has not standardized requirements to prove eligibility at vaccine locations. We recommend that you bring a copy or screenshot of your paystub to your appointment as proof of eligibility. For a complete list of Colorado vaccine providers, visit the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment website. COVIDCheck Colorado is also managing a registry for people who want to get vaccinated in partnership with local medical providers. To register for vaccination via COVIDCheck Colorado, please use this link.

Get vaccinated, get a FREE Krispy Kreme every day for the rest of the year – This is not a drill. Krispy Kreme announced earlier this week that anyone who shows their COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card at a participating location will receive a free Original Glazed donut through the end of 2021. Limit is one donut per day, no purchase required. Who counts as vaccinated? According to the popular donut purveyor, anyone who has received at least one of the two Pfizer/Moderna shots or the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine can get a free donut – just don’t forget your official vaccination card. Maybe the more important question: Where’s the closest Krispy Kreme to campus? Locations in Thornton (1051 E. 120th Ave., Thornton, CO 80233) and Lone Tree (7514 E. Parkway Drive, Lone Tree, CO 80124) are both participating in the donut giveaway.

Mines wants to know: Are you fully vaccinated? – Have you received all the necessary doses of a COVID-19 vaccine? If so, the Mines COVID-19 Response Initiator Team (CRIT) wants to know. Mines community members – 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.

  • Students: After submitting the form, please 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 to CRIT will help streamline contact tracing efforts on campus. Should you be identified as a close contact of a positive case, CRIT will verify you meet the most current CDC criteria for being exempted from quarantine directives. Additionally, as part of our continued efforts to be transparent about the pandemic, Mines hopes to make the percentage of campus community members who have been vaccinated available as part of our COVID-19 Dashboard.

Jefferson County at “new” Level Blue: Colorado unveils Dial 3.0, but county at risk of moving up to Level Yellow – The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment released a new COVID-19 framework and public health order (Dial 3.0) earlier this week, which further loosened restrictions on businesses and individuals. (See this Jefferson County Public Health press release for a run-down of the changes.)

And while Jefferson County is currently at the “new” Level Blue (Cautious), the county risks being moved up to Level Yellow (Concern) in the next several days if COVID-19 case numbers stay the same or increase. From March 16-22, there were 707 cases of COVID-19 (121.3 per 100,000) in Jefferson County. The 7-day COVID-19 case incidence rate limit, including a buffer allowance, for Level Blue is 115 cases per 100,000 people. If cases are not reduced below this limit within five consecutive days, CDPHE will move Jefferson County to Level Yellow, and residents will be required to follow those requirements.

“We can prevent this,” said Dr. Dawn Comstock, executive director of JCPH. “We are asking residents to please stay the course. Do it for the grandparents in our community who still have not been able to meet their newborn grandchildren, for loved ones who have been waiting to celebrate their wedding day, or for businesses who are just trying to survive. Find your ‘why’ and continue to wear your mask, keep your distance and avoid gatherings for just a bit longer. We all need each other to do our part right now.”

Editor’s Note: Mines Climbs Together is taking next week off for Spring Break. We’ll be back in your inboxes on Friday, April 9. 
Have a great – and COVID-19 safe – week, Orediggers!