Dear Campus Community,
Yesterday Governor Polis and the executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education, Dr. Angie Paccione, issued statements supporting COVID-19 vaccination requirements for students attending Colorado universities beginning Fall 2021. While they did not mandate that the state’s universities require COVID-19 vaccinations, their expectations were clear – students attending college in Colorado should be vaccinated prior to the start of the Fall 2021 semester.
We anticipate that several Colorado universities will announce their plans today and in the coming days. We also anticipate that the Mines community will have questions about our plans. 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.
Throughout this pandemic, Mines has taken a deliberate and thoughtful approach to our protocols and operations. We feel this approach has served us well and allowed us to adapt as needed to the rapidly evolving landscape.
Like Governor Polis, we also believe that widespread vaccination holds the key to recapturing our pre-pandemic lifestyles. It is important to getting back to the distinctive in-person and on-campus experiences and education that Mines is known for, and that we all want. For example, under current CDC guidance, fully vaccinated students:
- Can study in teams and gather indoors for student organization meetings (with food) with other fully-vaccinated students without mask or social distancing requirements,
- Can participate in outdoor intramural and varsity sports without mask requirements,
- Do not need to test for COVID-19 following a known exposure, if asymptomatic (with some exceptions for specific settings),
- Do not need to quarantine following a known exposure if asymptomatic, and
- Do not need to participate in routine screening testing if asymptomatic and feasible
Those are conditions under which we would like to operate this fall, but we can’t make it happen without widespread vaccination. Further, our campus community does not exist in isolation. We have an obligation to our neighbors to keep them safe and to the state of Colorado to achieve its goals to reduce the prevalence of this virus and, eventually, eliminate it.
The main question is what approach best leads to achieving that goal for the fall semester – should we strongly encourage and set expectations as the governor has, or mandate vaccinations as others have or will? In either case, we will need to allow exemptions and track vaccinations, and align our practices and procedures accordingly.
As we work through this important question, we promise to update you and welcome your input. 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. This process is not intended to be a vote, but we are interested in your thoughts and they may identify considerations that we need to address in moving forward. We have not established a timetable for this decision but anticipate that the discussions mentioned above will take place over the next two weeks and we recognize that students will need to know the expectations for fall semester within about the next month.
In the meantime, as we have already for the past month:
- We 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.
- Once you are fully vaccinated – two doses of Pfizer/Moderna vaccines or the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine – we ask that you report your vaccination status to Mines through our secure portal so we can make informed operational decisions for Fall 2021.
So, please do your part for our Oredigger community – roll up your sleeve and get your shot(s) as soon as you are able and then report your vaccination to Mines. Widespread vaccination is the key to our return to normal activities (without quarantines) in the fall.
Thank you for your continued commitment to the Oredigger community.
Paul C. Johnson, President and Professor
Rick C. Holz, Provost and Professor
Kirsten M. Volpi, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
John H. Bradford, Vice President for Global Initiatives
Dan P. Fox, Vice President of Student Life
Peter Han, Chief of Staff, President’s Office
Anne Stark Walker, Vice President and General Counsel
Brian Winkelbauer, President and CEO, CSM Foundation