MSU President's Column for Traill County Tribune
November 21, 2020
Helping to mitigate the spread at a critical time for our county and state, and beyond
It is good to be back to full on-campus course delivery and full campus operations on the Mayville State campus as of Monday, Nov. 16. You may recall that the results of an Oct. 27 mass testing event caused us to take a step back and re-evaluate out of an abundance of caution for the safety for our employees and students.
Participation in the Oct. 27 testing event was high, and with a high rate of testing comes a higher percentage of positive COVID-19 cases identified. Finding space to accommodate students who tested positive, as well as those who were identified as close contacts required some creative planning. We were unable to rent local hotel space and looked into the possibility of rental properties in the community, but decided that wasn’t the best option for our students.
The decision was made to house students identified as having positive COVID-19 cases in the Wellness Center. The facility was closed for business to provide for a place of isolation. While there, students had access to restrooms and showers with consideration for privacy. A study room and study carrels were set up to provide quiet space for studying and participating in online classes. Students could work out and play basketball and other games when they weren’t engaged in their course work. There was access to television and internet.
About 15 students stayed there and supervision was provided by Mayville State staff who had also tested positive. When talking with students, we learned that they were very happy to have been in isolation in a group setting where they could move around freely within the facility and interact with others who were also identified as having positive COVID-19 cases. Some said they were happy to be with their friends and others were happy to have had the opportunity to make some new friends. Some had previously been in quarantine and knew what it meant to be confined to a small dorm room with one other person for 14 days. One student described their experience of quarantining after being identified as a close contact as “sad.”
Meals from Mayville State Dining Services were delivered, and as a perk, snacks and goodies from off-campus locations were provided. Students were able to bring their own things to make them feel more at home.
One of the students summed up the experience like this, “Overall, it was really fun. I was pretty busy the whole time, which helped with the mental health issues that go along with being in isolation. Being able to socialize kept my mind off the situation and helped to pass the time.”
By Friday, Nov. 6, people housed at the Wellness Center had completed their isolation requirement. The facility was vacated and deep cleaned. On that same day, Mayville State hosted another mass COVID-19 testing event.
Unfortunately, public health experienced a delay in releasing the results of the tests administered that day. As a measure of caution, administration decided to continue all online course delivery until we could reassess, which we were able to do late last week.
In support of heightened mitigation requirements for the state announced by Governor Burgum Nov. 13, we have decided to give Mayville State students the flexibility to determine whether they wish to attend classes in person on campus or to participate online for the remainder of the semester. This new option, Comets Choose, will begin Monday, Nov. 30. We recognize the seriousness of the current COVID-19 situation in the state and in our communities, and the decision to offer flexibility for students supports the mitigation efforts of the campus and the greater community by reducing the population density in classrooms and other areas on campus. Further, we recognize that some students will travel a distance for the Thanksgiving break. This will provide them the flexibility to stay in place in their home communities through the Christmas break, if they prefer to do so. This plan also reduces the potential opportunity to bring the virus back to Traill County during the current particularly difficult time of the pandemic.
All campus offices will remain fully operational through the end of the semester. Residence halls will remain open and Dining Services will be operational. Comet Athletics will move forward with practices and competitions as planned. We will return to on-campus course delivery and full on-campus operations for all students, faculty, and staff by the start of the spring semester on Jan. 11, 2021.
Our campus COVID-19 dashboard, which is updated daily at www.mayvillestate.edu/fall2020restart, showed two positive COVID-19 cases among students studying on campus and one positive among employees on Nov. 17. Mayville State University continues to see the highest participation in testing events when compared to other NDUS institutions. In addition, the latest data shows that the positivity rate on campus is much lower than in the community and across the state, which would indicate that Mayville State’s mitigation efforts, including mask wearing, social distancing, hand washing, and cleaning and sanitizing, are effective.
I know this has been a very trying semester for faculty and staff, and I commend them in continuing to offer a great educational experience for both residential and online students. Faculty and staff have had to continually adapt learning models and work methods to help ensure student success which is very commendable. I am Comet Proud of all who continue to work very hard to keep our campus a safe place in which to study, live, and work while we remain true to our mission as “The School of Personal Service.”