MSU President's Column for Traill County Tribune

May 23, 2020

Preparing for fall and entering a new phase in the coronavirus fight

We have made the decision to return to face-to-face course delivery at Mayville State in the fall. This comes after the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education unanimously passed a motion on April 29 to express their intent to have students return to campuses for classes in the fall. It is exciting to think about a situation that looks a little more like what we are familiar with and miss. While we know that things will continue to look a little different from normal, it will be a big first step.

While we’ve been considering possibilities, planning, and preparing as the coronavirus situation has evolved over these last few months, additional planning and preparation is needed in order for us to meet this milestone. With the safety of our students, staff, and faculty at the forefront, we will plan for different kinds of scenarios, as many things are unknown and we have no way of knowing what the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines will be at that time.

When will we ask our faculty and staff who are working remotely to return to their campus offices? How will we accommodate social distancing (6 feet between individuals) in classrooms, labs, auditoriums, etc.? We’ll need to encourage frequent hand washing with soap and water and have hand sanitizers and probably masks or cloth face coverings available. How will housekeeping and custodial staff need to step up efforts to accommodate cleaning and disinfecting when there are more people around? What about accommodations in the residence halls and dining services?

There are numerous details to consider, and I am confident Team Mayville State is up to the challenge. In the next couple of weeks, the president’s cabinet and key campus personnel will convene for a retreat where we’ll weigh out all of these particulars and many more with the goal of developing a formalized plan.

In the meantime, the campus continues to be open. Our enrollment and admissions staff, some working daily on campus and others working remotely, are busy processing applications and introducing prospective students to the opportunities available at Mayville State University. Staff in other offices are wrapping up the spring semester and getting ready to launch not only summer school, but also the fall semester. Faculty are doing the same.

Our facilities services staff are working 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.    

In case of a potential COVID-19 incident, a process of deep cleaning is used. This 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.

I applaud Director of Facilities Services and Campus Security Bob Kozojed and his staff for the excellent work they are doing to keep us safe. Bob is also serving as Mayville State’s representative to the State of North Dakota’s COVID-19 task force which includes a representative of each public college and university and its president, as well as the governor, NDUS chancellor, and numerous other state officials. Bob is doing a wonderful job and I couldn’t be more grateful for his efforts.

As we knew would happen, instances of COVID-19 have started to crop up in Traill County. This is cause for pause and moves us into a new phase of fighting the pandemic. As time goes on, we’re going to know more and more people who have been exposed and/or infected.

In another significant effort to help keep our campus community safe, we have asked Brittany Ness to serve as the university’s COVID-19 liaison. She will be our point of contact for any individuals on campus who test positive for COVID-19, who suspect they have been exposed, or who are awaiting COVID-19 test results. Those individuals include, faculty, staff, students, and community members who may have reason to be on campus. Brittany will be working together with these individuals to conduct contact tracing.

Brittany, who is a graduate of Mayville State’s RN-to-BSN nursing program and is director of the Eastern North Dakota Area Health Education Center at Mayville State, has an office in Old Main. She is an experienced public health nurse and easily relates to all areas of consideration within this role, including confidentiality. She has been in contact with our local Sanford Clinic and public health officials to establish her formal role at Mayville State and to make sure she has the knowledge and training she needs to effectively serve in this capacity. Brittany can be reached at We are appreciative of Brittany’s expertise and willingness to step up and serve in this very important role.

I thank our staff and faculty who have continued to serve our campus on-site during this pandemic. They have kept Mayville State open and operating for students and visitors who needed a presence for recruiting, paying bills, and receiving refunds. They have been feeding students and community and generally making most things available to our customers and community.

As I look out my office window, I can see our grounds staff busily preparing the campus for summer. Grass is being mowed, weeds are being pulled, and soon flowers will be planted. It is refreshing to enjoy our beautiful campus as we make our way to our offices and other areas on campus, and it is a sign of the beauty that will greet everyone as we return to life a little more like normal in the fall.