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September 17, 2021

Dear Campus Community,

The CMU safety and COVID-19 response team continues to closely monitor the campus and county data around COVID-19 to make data-driven decisions to protect the campus community. We are following the rising COVID-19 case counts in the community and are proactively deploying mitigation strategies that we know are effective to include Mavily timeouts when groups or clusters of transmissions are seen. We also are deploying some additional tools in our response plan.

Based on the Student Wellness Center data and symptoms logged in SCOUT, we are experiencing an increase in medical visits for illnesses with symptoms similar to COVID-19 from our campus community. To help keep one another healthy, we ask that our community continue to log their symptoms in SCOUT, stay home if symptoms start, practice mindful masking, frequently wash hands, keep workspaces and personal areas clean, and consider getting vaccinated. Each and every one of us will need to do our part to safely stay together on campus.

In order to encourage students to not go to class with symptoms, we have updated the absence notification form. Faculty will continue to receive a notification of a student absence that is COVID-related involving isolation or quarantine. A medical-related absence notification will also be sent when a student will need to be out for an illness unrelated to COVID-19.

We know that both COVID-related absences and other illnesses impact the classroom. We want our campus to be informed on what’s happening around them. For this reason, the safety team will notify individuals and instructors if multiple COVID-19 cases have been identified in an isolated area or if a class is deemed a high risk for transmission. The notification will have further recommendations for heightened adherence to universal precautions and additional mitigation strategies to decrease the risk of transmission. In addition, we are creating a Classroom Illness Impact Form for faculty to proactively send a notification to the safety team if they are experiencing a high number of illness-related absences in their course or if they feel they have unique circumstances in the course that warrant a review and further guidance from the safety team. Faculty can expect a follow-up email next week with the link to the form.

In addition to course communications, students living on campus will notice increased signage in residence halls and follow-up communication if an area is experiencing higher numbers of COVID-19 illnesses. The COVID-19 Red Zone designation will be used to alert those in the hall to practice heightened universal precautions and take additional mitigation steps including wearing surgical masks to decrease the transmission risk. Surgical masks are available in residence halls and have been deployed to all administrative assistants in academic buildings.

Finally, last week President Biden announced new guidance regarding COVID-19 vaccinations for government employees, federal contractors and businesses with more than 100 employees. We are continuing to monitor this situation closely. There are still many questions to be addressed and details to be understood before any changes or decisions are made. As such, at this time, there are no changes to employee policies. Please continue to follow all of our established practices for keeping each other healthy and safe. As we learn more about the guidelines from federal and state agencies, we will continue to share that information with our campus community.

These are unprecedented and historic times in our country and the world. Despite the challenges, CMU continues to be a vibrant campus made up of extraordinary individuals. Thank you for being a part of the solution and working to keep our campus safe.

Regards,

The Safety Team