President’s Newspaper Column

January 9, 2021

Energized and excited for the spring semester

As we turn the calendar page to a new year, we are energized and excited for the spring semester. Classes begin Monday, Jan. 11 at 4 p.m. The first full day of classes will be Tuesday, Jan. 12. We will be in full campus operations mode, offering classes and services face-to-face on campus.

As is the norm, online courses will also be available for the benefit of those who wish to study at a distance. Mayville State has for many years offered high quality online courses taught by well qualified faculty who offer the same Mayville State brand of personal service online as they do on campus.

We have been making our way through uncharted territory over the last several months, and it is gratifying to know that we were able to offer in-person on-campus classes and services for students throughout the fall semester. This was accomplished in spite of a pandemic caused by an extremely contagious virus. I am over-the-top proud of and grateful for our faculty, staff, and students who have gone above and beyond to make this happen.

We have come a long way and learned much with regard to the coronavirus over the last several months. As we all know, things related to the pandemic can change quickly. We have learned to roll with the punches. We are staying on top of the latest developments and guidelines that healthcare and government officials issue, all in the spirit of keeping our campus and community safe and healthy.

We’re excited to announce a new testing option for all students, faculty, and staff. BinaxNOW tests will be made available at scheduled testing events and by appointment as needed. BinaxNOW is a form of rapid antigen testing for COVID-19. Results are provided in approximately 15 minutes.

Rapid tests are not a replacement for traditional PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests, but they are a great tool as a first indicator, especially when there are no symptoms present. It may take 48 hours or longer to receive the results of a PCR test. The 15-minute turnaround for the rapid test is a big advantage in many situations. Quick identification of positive cases breaks the chain of transmission.

The sensitivity of rapid antigen tests varies, but it is generally lower than a PCR test. The antigen level in specimens collected either before symptom onset, or late in the course of infection, may be below the limit of detection of the virus by a rapid antigen test, resulting in a false negative test as compared to a PCR test. The best protocol to follow is immediate isolation for those who receive a positive result when using the rapid testing method. A case investigator will reach out to these individuals within 24 hours. It is likely that those testing positive with a rapid test will be asked to take it a step further and complete the PCR test.

PCR tests will continue to be available and are considered the ideal method of testing for COVID-19 as the results are highly accurate. We are currently planning for testing events to be held at Mayville State.

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum has recently announced his plan to sign an amended executive order that will drop the risk level in North Dakota from high to moderate. This means capacity limits for restaurants, bars, and gatherings will be increased, as active cases and hospitalizations due to COVID-19 have decreased in the state.

In this same vein, Comet Athletics will increase the number of spectators allowed in the Lewy Lee Fieldhouse for athletic events. Following the lead of the North Dakota High School Activities Association guidelines, we will allow up to 550 people in the facility. Masks will continue to be required and social distancing guidelines will be followed. Family units will be allowed to sit together, but there will need to be six feet placed between groups.

We are cautiously optimistic about the future with regard to the pandemic. Bright spots of normalcy seem to be shining through. As has been the case throughout, our top priority is to provide the opportunity for on-campus face-to-face instruction and services through the spring semester for those students who wish to study on campus. We are absolutely committed to doing so while keeping our campus community safe and healthy.