Editor’s Note: With Spring Commencement on May 13-15, this is the last weekly issue of Mines Climbs Together for the semester. We will continue to send updates from time to time over the summer, but only as needed. Thanks for reading and doing your part to keep our community safe this year!

Six days ‘til the start of Spring 2021 Commencement: Make sure you can celebrate in person – Spring Commencement is less than a week away, and the last thing anybody wants is to have to walk in their cap and gown across their bedroom because they got quarantined right before the ceremony. To help ensure we can all make it through our in-person finals and Commencement, all members of the Mines community, and particularly our students, are asked to take extra care over the next seven days. That’s it, just seven more days.

What does that mean? Until Undergraduate Commencement on May 14, all Orediggers should:

  • Wear a mask whenever you’re outside your home – and especially during indoor group study sessions.
  • Limit your social circle and only hang out in person with your “family unit” (housemates and significant other).
  • Avoid large indoor events and gatherings.
  • Get tested for COVID-19 a few days before you depart Golden for the summer. Sign up for free on-campus testing at primarybio.com/a/mines.

To support these guidelines, Student Life late last week put in place additional event limitations through the end of the semester. Masks must be worn at all times during all events (indoors and outdoors), and no alcohol can be served. Other food and drink can only be provided as a “take away” at the end of an event. At Mines, we’ve climbed together throughout this academic year. We’re almost to the summit. Let’s buckle down and get there, together.

Indoors on campus? Around another person? Masks are STILL required – Over the past few days, we’ve heard increasing reports of students studying together inside campus buildings without masks. We know that study groups are an essential part of the Mines experience, but right now, so is wearing a mask indoors to protect all members of our campus community — including those who are between vaccine doses, cannot get vaccinated for medical reasons or are immunocompromised. Per Mines’ mask policy — which remains in effect — all Mines students, faculty, staff, visitors, contractors and vendors must wear a cloth face mask that covers their nose and mouth at all times when indoors at any university facility. That includes:

  • In classrooms
  • In laboratories when another person is in the space
  • In offices and rooms when there is another person in the same space
  • In office cubicles when someone is sitting on the other side of a shared wall
  • In hallways, stairways and elevators
  • Using common areas including break rooms, lounges, copy rooms or restrooms
  • In public study areas within academic buildings, including Arthur Lakes Library, when other people are present in the building, even if you are maintaining 6 feet physical distance from others
  • Within residence halls or housing areas outside of one’s own room or apartment, such as laundry rooms, hallways, common areas, bathrooms, kitchens, lounges and study rooms
  • In dining areas when not actively eating or drinking

So, yes, if you’re studying and you are alone in a classroom, conference room or enclosed study room, it’s OK to take your mask off. But as soon as someone else joins you in the room, EVERYONE in the group needs to put their masks on. No exceptions. Even if some of you are vaccinated. Thanks for doing your part to keep all Orediggers safe.

Done with finals and ready for your first vaccine dose? Appointments abound in Jefferson County and beyond — School’s (almost) out for summer, and we can’t think of a better way to celebrate than by finally getting that COVID-19 vaccine you’ve been putting off until your final projects/papers/exams were done. It’s easier than ever to get a shot right now — Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) and partners are hosting a bunch of community vaccination clinics near campus over the next two weeks, many of which don’t require appointments in advance. See the full JCPH list here. Even more options — including walk-up vaccinations at Denver’s Ball Arena and Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City — are available on the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment website.

Reminder: If your vaccine requires a second dose (Pfizer or Moderna), it is very important that you get your second shot as close as possible to the recommended interval, but not any sooner. Getting your second dose will help ensure the vaccine will be most effective to prevent hospitalization or death due to COVID-19. You should try to get your second shot at the same place you got your first, but if you need help scheduling a second dose elsewhere, call JCPH’s Vax Line at 303-239-7000 and press option 1.

Speaking of vaccines: One-and-done Johnson & Johnson vaccine available on campus May 12 – The State of Colorado will be providing Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine on campus on Wednesday May 12 from 12 to 5 p.m. in the Student Recreation Center Rec Gymnasium. This is a walk-up clinic open to anyone 18 and older, no Mines affiliation required. No reservations are needed, and all forms will be available on site. The J&J vaccine requires only a single dose, and you are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after that single dose. More information on the vaccine is available on the CDC website. Note: Anyone under a quarantine/modified quarantine/isolation directive on that date is not eligible to participate in the clinic.

Summer at Mines: What to expect in terms of COVID-19 protocols on campus – The first six-week session of the Summer 2021 term gets underway Monday, May 17. And while many classes will be remote/online, there will be some in-person classes and labs on campus, and students should expect a suite of COVID-19 protocols similar to those in place during spring semester.

  • Face masks: Required in classrooms, in common areas and public study areas and when in laboratories and offices whenever another person is in the same space.
  • Social distancing: Classrooms, Mines Dining facilities and the Student Center will remain at reduced capacity to accommodate social distancing.
  • Health monitoring: Anyone coming to campus — including those who are fully vaccinated — should continue to check their health daily and stay home if they have any symptoms of COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 testing: Free COVID-19 testing will be available on campus through at least June 30. Testing requirements for students attending Field Session and/or living in the residence halls will be communicated to those groups directly.

The Fall 2021 Planning Committee has also begun its work related to the fall semester and employees’ return to campus. We’ll share updates as soon as we are able, either in a future Mines Climbs Together message or a separate email to the entire campus community.

COVID-19 Dashboard Update: Test positivity rate still high, but trending in right direction – The Mines COVID-19 dashboard was updated today, revealing 36 active cases on campus. A total of 1,759 tests were completed last week, with a positivity rate of 2.16 percent. That’s still considerably higher than the semester average but down from 3.81 percent the week prior. Additional case details are available here.

There are seven active outbreaks on campus, in Sigma Phi Epsilon, Spruce Hall, Beta Theta Pi, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Randall Hall and Mines Athletics (baseball 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.

Calling all Orediggers ages 16-29: Jefferson County Public Health needs your input – Jefferson County Public Health is developing a new communications campaign to reach young adults in Jeffco (ages 16-29) with information about COVID-19 vaccines, and they need your input. Please take their short two-minute survey — and share it with your friends — to provide your thoughts about COVID-19 vaccines. Participants will be entered to win a $50 Amazon gift card. The survey closes on Friday, May 21. Take the survey here: bit.ly/jeffcovaxsurvey

One last thing: 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 Portal, 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.