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June 4, 2020 3:10 p.m.
Update to faculty and staff 06-04-2020
We’re looking forward to a return to face-to-face course delivery and a big step toward a return to normalcy at Mayville State. It appears that Mayville State will be among the majority of other institutions of higher education in the country. Research which tracked more than 840 colleges’ plans for the fall showed that 66% are planning for in-person classes. Another 7% are planning for online classes, and 8% are proposing a hybrid model. Ten percent are considering a range of scenarios, while 9% are waiting to decide.
Local Smart Restart task force being formed
The Mayville State Smart Restart Task Force that will determine what a return to on-campus course delivery and a fully open campus will look like is being assembled under the leadership of Dr. Tami Such and Dr. Andrew Pflipsen. We will be asking for representation from our various constituency groups. The task force will split out into smaller groups who will work on specific details. Things to be determined include number of people allowed in a classroom at a time, social distancing, traffic patterns, and much more. We will be utilizing the guidelines outlined by North Dakota Smart Restart to help guide our decision-making process. The work of our task force is vast and very important. If asked, I hope you will agree to serve. Plans are for a first meeting in the next week or two.
Mayville State professionals well-connected with others and serving as liaisons to Mayville State
Bob Kozojed has been representing Mayville State University on a statewide task force dealing with the issues related to the coronavirus pandemic and is serving in a crucial role as a liaison between what is happening at the state level and what is happening here on campus.
As Mayville State’s Council of College Faculties representative, Greta Paschke is serving on the North Dakota University System Smart Restart Task Force made up of persons from around the state. They are tasked with formulating a set of ideals for returning to face-to-face teaching, including behavioral guidelines (e.g., who should/must wear masks), equipment needs, options for instruction of lecture versus hands-on classes, sanitizing procedures, changes in schedules, housing, and more.
In addition, Brittany Ness is serving as Mayville State’s COVID-19 liaison. A registered nurse who has also worked in public health, Brittany is helping with coronavirus-related situations at Mayville State, including contact tracing efforts. Brittany is well-connected with public health and various county, area, and statewide groups and agencies involved in the fight against coronavirus. She is able to glean the most current information and guidelines via these relationships and share them for the benefit of Mayville State.
I also am serving on the North Dakota University System Smart Restart Task Force. This task force will meet for the first time next week, on Thursday, June 11. Since February, the North Dakota University System staff have worked diligently to keep me and all of the NDUS presidents informed about the coronavirus pandemic, not only statewide, but also nationwide and worldwide. We have met often and in a timely manner to formulate and implement plans throughout this time. We are in regular discussion not only at the NDUS Chancellor’s Cabinet level, but also at the local President’s Cabinet level.
Mayville State is well-connected with the experts in other agencies and organizations and well-represented by our own campus experts. I am grateful for the invaluable work Bob, Greta, and Brittany are doing. Please be assured that we are continually working on this with the safety of the Mayville State community as our first priority.
Returning to work on campus
Discussions about a return to working on campus for all staff are ongoing. Intentionally, a specific date has not been set, but cabinet members will be working with their constituency groups to determine a phase-in plan for specific areas, with returns to begin on or after July 1. Various areas have different needs, so we don’t anticipate a blanket “everyone returns on this date” situation. You will be hearing details from your respective cabinet member and/or supervisor soon. Please be patient and know that we will do our best to accommodate employee needs while also considering the needs of the university. The goal will be to have everyone who is currently working remotely back to their campus offices in plenty of time to be ready for the start of the fall semester.
We have all learned that some of the new activities forced by the social distancing guidelines, such as holding meetings via Zoom, may at times be a more efficient way to do business even when there is a full return to working on campus. If you see that a Zoom meeting helps to accommodate your needs better than a face-to-face meeting, please use that tool. Please apply this rule of thumb in all situations where new efficiencies can be met.
Our facilities services employees have been and will continue to work very hard to ensure that every effort is made to keep those on campus safe. In addition to their regular duties, they are taking extra steps to make sure frequently touched surfaces are sanitized and disinfected several times a day. These include doorknobs, water fountains, bathrooms, countertop surfaces, chairs, and more. Fortunately, we have been able to keep our entire facilities services staff working to keep everything as safe as possible throughout this time and will continue to do so moving forward. Other higher education institutions have not been so fortunate and have been forced to maintain these cleaning standards with very few staff. It is and will continue to be important for all employees to pitch in with the cleaning efforts by keeping their personal spaces (your desk, your phone, your computer keyboard) clean. As you know, it can sometimes be difficult to purchase the cleaning items needed, but we are making every effort to provide what is needed.
A process of deep cleaning is used in the case of a potential COVID-19 incident and is also done routinely in high traffic areas. Deep cleaning involves the use of a Quaternary cleaner. This non-acid cleaner is designed specifically for disinfecting hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and more. The cleaner is applied using electrostatic technology. The machine electrically charges the cleaning product, dispensing it into the air as a mist, allowing the disinfectant to wrap itself around all surfaces. There is no residue left on surfaces and it will not damage electronics or important papers on a desk.
We are grateful that there has not been a COVID-19 outbreak linked to the Mayville State facilities. Members of the Mayville State family who have been exposed or tested positive were infected somewhere away from the Mayville State campus. We know that our cleaning safeguards are important in keeping it as such.
The pandemic has had a financial impact at Mayville State. Closing the residence halls and offering very limited dining services, along with issuing 30% refunds to those who moved home has taken a toll. We are pulling up our boot straps and tackling budget concerns with positive attitudes and open minds.
We realize that you may have a number of questions that you’d like answers to immediately, but the truth is, this is a rapidly changing situation and we don’t always have the answers you may seek. You can be assured that Team Mayville State is working to get the answers needed and we will be sharing details as they become available. In the meantime, if there is something you wonder about, please feel free to contact your respective cabinet member.
Thank you to all for your willingness to be flexible as we navigate this unprecedented situation. Being back on campus is important to our future and we’ll diligently do that with efforts to protect our faculty, staff, and students by using scientific-based information that promotes safety. By working together for the best possible results, we will get through this.
Dr. Brian Van Horn, President
Mayville State University