MSU President's Column for Traill County Tribune

July 25, 2020 

Health and safety at the forefront of plans for return to on-campus instruction and student services

We continue to make plans and preparations for our return to face-to-face instruction and services for students this fall. We’re excited to be able to make this big step toward a return to normalcy as we navigate the coronavirus pandemic.

Our local task forces are diligently working to cover all the bases and offering their suggestions as we put forth our best efforts to keep our campus community safe and well. A great cross-section of faculty, staff, and students assure that there is inclusive representation. We are constantly monitoring new guidelines set forth by the organizations with which we are affiliated, including the NAIA (National Association for Intercollegiate Athletics) and the NSAA (North Star Athletic Association).  

Discussions regarding COVID testing for students, staff, and faculty are underway. The topic is being tackled at the state level as well as on the local level. We should know more about this by the end of this week. Our interest in testing is not only for the safety of our campus community, but also for the Mayville-Portland and Traill County communities. The welfare of all is of great concern for us at Mayville State.

Our COVID-19 Restart website has been established and serves as our official source for information related to the coronavirus pandemic situation and plans for a return to campus in the fall. The site contains general information, as well as information of interest to students, parents, student athletes, and employees. The website contains important information such as what people can expect if someone at Mayville State tests positive for COVID-19 and a reporting form. The purpose of the MSU COVID-19 reporting form is to inform Mayville State that a student or employee has COVID-19, has been identified as a close contact, and/or has symptoms consistent with COVID-19. Completing this form sets the process of contact tracing into motion.

We’ve established a central purchasing effort for COVID-19-related purchases. Designated staff have been ordering needed supplies such as cleaning supplies, face masks, face shields, and Plexiglass barriers. Many of these barriers have been installed in offices.

Dining Services Director Bryan Karolus has plans for how we can best serve customers while keeping them safe. Facilities Services Director Bob Kozojed and his staff have stepped up their cleaning practices in light of the coronavirus and have done so throughout this time of the pandemic. They are making plans for how this will go to a new level when the fall semester begins. Staff who have been working remotely are returning to on-campus work on a staggered basis.

On Tuesday of this week, Dr. Joel Blanchard, an epidemiologist with Sanford Health, led a discussion regarding the coronavirus with our faculty and staff. We were honored to have him share his expertise with our employees. Our COVID-19 liaison Brittany Ness was also a part of the presentation and shared information more specific to Mayville State. We thank Jac McTaggart, Senior Director of Sanford in Hillsboro and Mayville, for making the arrangements to have Dr. Blanchard join us on Tuesday afternoon. The experience was very informative and helpful.

As we look to the future, we also look to events sponsored by the MSU Foundation. The Comet Athletic Club recently held its annual Harvey McMullen Memorial Golf Tournament in Mayville. It was a wonderful success! People not only had a great time, but the number of participants was a record. We are grateful to the Comet Athletic Club board for the great work they do on behalf of our student athletes. Their Bingo events held at the Top Hat on Thursdays are in full swing again. In addition, they plan to hold their annual Sportsmen’s Raffle in conjunction with the Farmers Bowl Festivities on Sept. 26. Plans are underway for a parade, corn on the cob and hot dog feed, and Comets football game that day as well. There will be a silent auction held together with the Sportsmen’s Raffle. Should the COVID-19 situation flare up, squelching the possibility of a large gathering, the drawing for the guns will not be cancelled. Winners will be drawn regardless of whether there is an in-person event. Please watch for further details regarding Farmers Bowl 2020 and the Comet Athletic Club Sportsmen’s Raffle.

As we well know, the coronavirus pandemic is a rapidly changing situation. We are doing our very best to stay on top of new developments so that our planning can be as effective as possible. Again, our top priority is the health and safety of our campus community and the community at large. We are grateful to all who are helping to make it happen.