NMU Students, Faculty and Staff,

Thank you for your patience and flexibility as Northern worked on our quick transition for this first week of classes.  I apologize for the short notice, and recognize that some of you traveled through rough weather to get to campus in time for Monday’s originally scheduled first day of classes. We did not make the decisions about the changes easily. Now, I am able to share more details about the plans to move us back to in-person classes as quickly, and as safely, as possible.

KN95 Mask distribution logistics:  Providing the first shipment of 12,000 masks arrive as planned on Wednesday (Jan. 12) – we will let you know if they do – then we will spend three business days – Thursday, Friday and Monday (Jan. 13, 14, 17) – distributing two KN95 masks to students at various sites across campus. Distribution sites and pickup times are being finalized and will be announced soon. A Wildcat ID card or NMU IN will be required to pick up your masks.

KN95 Masks for employees:  Northern is almost out of its existing KN95 mask supply. If you are an NMU employee who did not receive their two KN95 masks from the original masks in stock, you can go to the NMU Police Department to receive two surgical masks to wear inside your fabric mask, doubling your masks until the next shipment arrives this week. Employees also need to present a Wildcat ID card or NMU IN when picking up their KN95 masks.

More masks in coming weeks:  Northern has shipments of KN95 masks scheduled to arrive until mid-February so that NMU students, faculty and staff will be able to replace soiled masks regularly.  We will reassess the KN95, N95, KF94 requirement in February.  Northern also has 15,000 surgical masks on order that should also be arriving soon.

Fit of the mask:  A variety of KN95 masks from different companies have been ordered so that there is a variety to accommodate different face sizes. If you received a set of KN95 masks this week and they don’t fit your face well, you may have a better fit with the masks that are set to arrive this week and in the coming weeks. If you have a medical issue related to wearing a KN95, N95 or KF94 mask, please send your name, contact information and details about the issue to SafeOnCampus@nmu.edu.

Logistics for the COVID-19 testing:  Northern’s mandatory random testing begins next week with testing from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. on Monday (Jan. 17) and from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Wednesday (Jan. 19) in Peninsula II of the Northern Center.  If you are selected for testing, you will receive an email from SafeOnCampus@nmu.edu Wednesday evening or Thursday morning (Jan. 12-13) with a registration link for you to sign up for your preferred testing time.  The appointment takes about 10 minutes.

Dining to-go change: Until the COVID situation improves, Northern Lights Dining will be able to offer a take-out option starting today (Tuesday, Jan. 11) at 11 a.m. for residence hall students who prefer not to eat in a communal setting, at this time. Servers will place students’ food choices into the take-out container at the serving stations. The Wildcat Den and Fieras already have been providing take-out options.

Revising on-campus movie restrictions: We revised our decision about not allowing on-campus movies. We are allowing in-person movies to be held with the following restrictions: the number of attendees is capped at 100 individuals, and attendees must use social distancing (sitting in every third seat). These guidelines are in place for each showing in the 1100 Jamrich Hall auditorium. The mask requirement, of course, remains in place for all attendees.

Revising 100% withdrawal refund deadline: Because we adjusted this first week of classes, canceling two days of classes and moving to remote learning for three days, we are adjusting the deadline for students to receive a 100% refund if they choose to withdraw from Northern after this week. Typically, a full 100% refund is only available for the first day of classes. The revised deadline for withdrawal to receive a 100% refund is Friday, Jan. 21.  This provides students time to assess the situation and make informed decisions about withdrawing.

Answering questions:  Here are the answers to some questions we have received in the past few days.

Why cancel lectures but hold labs?  Lab and studio classes are often held once per week; therefore, canceling even one session wipes out an entire week of the semester. Additionally, they are typically smaller in numbers than lecture classes. We believed we had enough PPE (between surgical masks and existing KN95 masks) for instructors and students to use for the first week of lab and studio classes. Finally, most lab and studio style classes are extremely difficult to hold remotely, so when they could be held safely, we felt it would be better to keep them face-to-face.  

I’m a student and I just found out I’m positive for COVID. What do I do next? On the SafeOnCampus website’s Student Information page, there is a Frequently Asked Questions section under the “Helpful Resources” headline. It provides the five steps a student should take when they learn they are positive for COVID-19. The FAQ also provides information about what to do if you learn you are positive outside of NMU’s regular business hours. Additionally, there are answers to questions about who needs to isolate or quarantine in a positive exposure situation. Northern’s COVID-19 dashboard has also resumed operations for the semester.

Is anyone doing contact tracing on positive cases?  Yes, the Marquette County Health Department is responsible for the area’s contact tracing.  MCHD sometimes sends some of its cases to the state contact tracing office. The NMU Health Center staff assists the MCHD, as requested, with some parts of contact tracing related to cases for students who live on the NMU campus. So, if you are waiting for a contact tracing call, you should watch for identification information from any of these three sources.

Final thought – As you can imagine, the primary question I’ve been receiving is why Northern made such a big change so quickly as was made on Sunday. Again, I apologize for the short notice, but several factors came together very quickly to cause us to pause. One of the most concerning of those factors was UPHS-Marquette’s Emergency Department nearing capacity over the weekend. Let’s see what happens to the COVID case numbers over the next few days and adjust as needed to the trends. I choose to remain optimistic that Northern will be able to move forward with our plan for a semester of in-person learning and activities. That said, I know the change was lightning fast and I want to thank the faculty and staff for making this suddenly modified first week workable and students for being flexible and patient. 

Sincerely,
Dr. Kerri D. Schuiling, Interim President

NMU Students, Faculty and Staff,

To those working this week, welcome back. I hope you enjoyed the holiday break. To those returning for the start of the new semester next week, enjoy your final days of break. We look forward to having you back on campus soon.

Unfortunately, the new calendar year is off to a bit of a rough start.

Winter weather: A snow storm is predicted for tonight and tomorrow (Tuesday and Wednesday, Jan. 4-5). The storm is predicted to last through Wednesday and therefore, the roads should be cleared allowing safer winter travel starting Thursday (Jan. 6), which is also when the NMU residence halls reopen, dining services resume, and new student orientation begins. However, it is still recommended that you check the weather for your travel areas and plan accordingly.

Pandemic planning: Unfortunately, globally the pandemic is worsening, primarily due to the Omicron variant. While cases of COVID in the UP seem to be moderating, the number of infected persons is beginning to rise, probably due to gatherings and travel over the holidays. And, just recently, the Omicron variant has been identified in cases in the UP. Further complicating the current health front is that we are entering into the period of the year typical for high cases of flu and colds.

Two things are required of each of us during this period:  1) We must all continue to commit to doing what we can to take care of ourselves and our NMU community, and 2) We remain flexible and continue to be ready for change as decisions are made to address circumstances as they develop. 

This semester Northern is expanding vaccination and booster shot availability at the NMU Health Center and is implementing mass random COVID-19 testing. The information below will help you prepare for the new semester:

·  Vaccinations and Boosters  – To set up an appointment for a COVID vaccination or booster, call the NMU Health Center at 906-227-2355.  In addition to the NMU Health Center Pharmacy, you can also receive these services at physician offices and commercial pharmacies, both in Marquette and in your hometown.

·  Required Random Testing – Starting Monday, Jan. 17, Northern will begin a surveillance COVID-19 testing program. The plan is to test 700 individuals weekly: 300 employees (150 vaccinated, 150 without proof of vaccination in the Bridge system), 300 students (150 vaccinated, 150 without proof of vaccination in the Bridge system), and 110 student-athletes. This level of testing will enable Northern to have a relative sense of the amount of COVID-19 cases among the campus community.  The details of the required testing are as follows:

o   Individuals in each category are randomly selected. Compliance is mandatory.

o   Testing will take place each week (except the week of spring break (Feb. 28 – March 6) on Mondays from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. and Wednesdays from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. in Peninsula II of the Northern Center.

o   If you are selected to undergo random COVID-19 testing, you will be sent an email from SafeOnCampus@nmu.edu that includes a link for you to select your preferred testing time. Faculty and work supervisors will work with you, as needed, to ensure that you can test during the week you are selected.

o   If the OSHA/MIOSHA Emergency Temporary Standard for mandatory vaccination or weekly testing is approved by the U.S. Supreme Court (oral arguments begin January 7), NMU will adjust its testing pool to meet the ETS requirements regarding mandatory testing for all employees (full-time, part-time, temporary and student) who have not provided proof of vaccination.

While the COVID-19 situation continues to remain fluid at the moment, some of the most important steps for each of us to take are those we’ve been taking since February 2020: wear a mask (properly over nose and mouth) when indoors and when in large groups of people, wash your hands frequently, when not feeling well and/or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, influenza or a cold, stay home and do your best to isolate from others. As a nurse, I cannot stress how important for prevention of infection these easy-to-do steps are to the overall health of everyone on our campus.

We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and make changes to our protocols as the situation dictates. Please continue to watch your NMU email because changes that are necessitated due to changes in infection rates etc. may need to be implemented quickly.

As mentioned in a previous email, it is strongly recommended that you receive a booster dose of either Pfizer or Moderna when you are eligible.  Eligibility is based on when you were originally vaccinated (5 months after the second dose of Pfizer, 6 months after the second dose of the Moderna vaccine, and 2 months after receiving the Johnson and Johnson vaccine).

CDC Isolation/Quarantine Changes: The CDC recently made some changes to its isolation/quarantine recommendations and have shortened the isolation period from 10 days to 5 days in some situations. However, the CDC kept the isolation/quarantine periods at 10 days for individuals in congregate settings, which includes university residence halls. The Marquette County Health Department, based on CDC and state standards, will determine the isolation/quarantine period for any infected or exposed individuals with Northern ties.

A final note – The start of a new semester is always exciting, even during a pandemic. I look forward to all of the Winter 2022 learning and activities to come, and I thank each of you for your patience and compassion as we continue to navigate our way through these challenging times.

Sincerely,
Dr. Kerri D. Schuiling, Interim President

NMU Students, Faculty and Staff,

Since last Thursday's (Sept. 9) announcement by the White House of a federal vaccination mandate for organizations with more than 100 employees, we have received a lot of questions about what this means for Northern. The answer is that there are no details available at this point, so it's unclear what the implications will be for public colleges and universities. We will continue to monitor the situation as the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) work on their respective Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS).

BLOOD DRIVES: The American Red Cross blood drive sponsored by the Lydia Olson Library at Harden Hall today (10 a.m. – 4 p.m.) has filled all of its appointment times. Some walk-in appointments may be possible, but they will be limited. If you didn’t get a time and still want to help, the Upper Peninsula Regional Blood Center will hold a blood drive from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 14, at Jamrich Hall.  Or, you can schedule an appointment at the Center, which is located a block from Cohodas Hall at 427 W. College Avenue, by calling 906-449-1450.  There currently is a critical shortage of all types of blood in the U.P.  I appreciate all who are helping to fill the need.

SELF-MONITORING SURVEY: NMU’s self-monitoring weekly survey will go out for the first time this afternoon. It will be sent each week to all individuals who have not reported vaccination information into The Bridge system and to several hundred random vaccinated individuals, who will be asked to participate only once per semester. This 2-minute survey will provide the University with information for potential targeted testing areas.

SHARING VACCINATION INFO: Also, a reminder that the $100 dining credit for sharing vaccination information ends at 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 1. You will need to upload your vaccination information prior to that date if you’d like to receive this thank you gift from Northern.  Please, don’t select the “opt out” option if you want to receive the dining credit gift; only select “opt out” if you do not wish to receive the dining credit. If you need a vaccination, set up an appointment at the NMU Health Center by calling 227-2355.

SHARING CASE INFO: If you test and are confirmed to have COVID-19, along with your communications to your professors and work supervisors, please send a note to SafeOnCampus@nmu.edu, especially if you are tested outside of Marquette County. This helps Northern keep our COVID-19 dashboard as accurate as possible. While NMU receives some information from the MCHD, we do not routinely receive case information from cases outside of the county. Even with the Marquette County cases, a note to SafeOnCampus@nmu.edu helps us post the case sooner. If you are positive for COVID-19 and work at NMU as a full-time, part-time, temporary or student employee, you also need to fill out the COVID exposure form that is under the Safety Department Services tab on the MyNMU portal. Your supervisor can help you find the form, if you need assistance.

I’ll close today with a note of remembrance and sympathy for all those who suffered a loss of a family member, loved one, friend or colleague during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. And, to any of our NMU community, who helped with the rescue, recovery and healing process of those events, thank you. Even with 20 years gone, it’s still shocking and painful to remember and absorb the many impacts of that day.

Sincerely,
Fritz Erickson, NMU President

NMU Students, Faculty and Staff,

I hope everyone enjoyed the long holiday weekend. NMU newcomers, I hope you are finding your way about campus and that Northern and Marquette are beginning to feel like your home-away-from-home. Here are a few notes for this week’s update.

10th DAY NUMBERS:  As you may have read in yesterday’s Northern Today news article, we have our official 10th day enrollment numbers available and we are seeing signs of a solid recovery trend from the pandemic-related enrollment losses of a year ago with a 10% increase in first-year students. We expected recovery would take more than one year. Overall, we are still down about 2%, but the first-year numbers are very good news.

MQT AT HIGH RISK: Marquette County recently rose from the CDC level of “substantial” COVID-19 cases to the level of “high.” This was not unexpected. The CDC guidelines do not change much for an area that goes from substantial to high, meaning no additional protocol changes are needed at this time. Please continue wearing your mask (over nose and mouth) when indoors, doing daily self-monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms whether vaccinated or not, staying home and away from people as much as possible when you have symptoms, and regularly washing your hands. These are doable things that can make a big difference in mitigating COVID-19 spread.

VACCINATION RATES: We have recalculated our vaccination rates using the new 10th enrollment numbers. You can view the adjusted rates on the COVID-19 dashboard found on the SafeOnCampus website. Updated vaccination rates will be posted on the first Monday of each month. If you need a COVID-19 vaccination, contact the NMU Health Center at 906-227-2355 to schedule an appointment.

$100 DINING CREDIT: A reminder that our extension for the $100 dining credit as a thank you for sharing your vaccination information ends 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 1. This information helps Northern in our decision-making about pandemic protocols. Uploading your documentation into The Bridge takes only a few minutes. Your $100 dining credit is loaded onto your Wildcat ID card within 24 hours after your documentation has been reviewed by the NMU Health Center staff. The credit can be used at any of NMU’s  on-campus eateries.

SELF-MONITORING: Next Tuesday (Sept. 14), Northern will launch its weekly online COVID-19 symptom monitoring questionnaire, which will be sent to those without vaccination information in The Bridge, as well as to a small random sample of vaccinated individuals. Vaccinated individuals will not be asked to participate more than once for the semester. The survey will be confidential, but the responses will help to generate information about where symptoms are occurring on campus. This information could activate targeted COVID-19 testing in those areas. When you receive an email with Self-Monitoring of Symptoms Survey in the subject line, please respond. It will only take you a minute or two to do so. We thank everyone for their cooperation.

BLOOD DONATIONS: Speaking of Sept. 14, please try to participate in the Red Cross Blood Drive being sponsored by the Lydia Olson Library that day from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. The U.P. Blood Bank currently has a critical need for several types of blood. You can find the link to sign up for a time under “Events” on the library’s home page.

PROVOST SEARCH: Northern has posted the job description for the provost and vice president for Academic Affairs position. Those interested in reviewing the position description, sharing the opportunity with colleagues, or applying can access the information via a link on the Human Resources home page. The preferred date for applications is Sept. 30. The Provost/VP search committee hopes to bring finalists to campus in November.

Let me close with how pleased I am that Northern and the AAUP faculty union have come to a tentative contract agreement. An enormous amount of work goes into negotiating contracts and I want to thank both the faculty and administrative negotiating teams and all the others involved for their efforts.

Stay safe,
Fritz Erickson, NMU President

Mask Protocol Revision

ALL individuals – vaccinated and not vaccinated – must wear masks
when indoors at ALL Northern facilities.

Effective Tuesday, August 24


NMU Students, Faculty and Staff,


The Marquette County Health Department has confirmed that Marquette County’s COVID classification has changed from “moderate” to “substantial.” There are four CDC COVID classifications: low, moderate, substantial and high. The CDC recommends that all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks (over nose and mouth) when indoors in any areas that are at the substantial and high COVID levels. 

In its meeting this afternoon (Monday, Aug. 23), the Executive Council approved revising Northern’s mask protocol to align with the CDC recommendation. As of tomorrow (Tuesday, Aug. 24), Northern will require a mask to be worn by all individuals – vaccinated and not vaccinated – whenever inside a Northern facility. This includes ALL areas of ALL university facilities – classrooms, labs, hallways, lounges, dining locations, etc. The only exceptions are private living spaces (residence hall rooms and apartments), private offices, when an individual is the lone person in a university vehicle, and when an individual is actively eating in an NMU eatery.  The mask requirement includes visitors on campus and groups renting NMU facilities.

At this time, masks do not need to be worn when outdoors except when in a large gathering of people when social distancing is not possible. 

Northern will continue to monitor the CDC classification of Marquette County and the Upper Peninsula, and will reevaluate its mask requirements as the situation changes.  If you want or need a Wildcat mask, they are available at the Dean of Students office for students and Human Resources for employees. Students who need to apply for a medical mask exemption should contact the Disability Services office at disserv@nmu.edu or 906-227-1737. Employees who need to apply for a medical mask exemption should contact Human Resources at hr@nmu.edu or 906-227-2330.

Signage in the buildings will be updated as soon as possible, but the protocol is effective as of Tuesday (Aug. 24).

Thank you for your cooperation regarding this change. 

Fritz Erickson, NMU President

NMU Students, Faculty and Staff,

Welcome to the first week of the 2021-22 academic year. Today, I have just a few reminders for everyone.

MASKS: A reminder that Northern revised its mask protocol a few weeks ago to require all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, to wear masks while inside classes and labs. This current protocol does not include hallways, lounges and other indoor spaces for vaccinated individuals, although those who are not vaccinated must wear masks in all indoor spaces. Our change to the mask protocol was made when Marquette County had a CDC “moderate” COVID classification. We are monitoring to see if the county’s CDC level has changed and, if it has, may make additional changes to the mask requirements. Please watch for that information.

FALL FEST:  I strongly encourage everyone to get out on this incredibly beautiful day and enjoy one or both days of Fall Fest activities from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. in the academic mall. Today’s (Monday, Aug. 23) celebration features student organizations and tomorrow’s features local businesses and non-profit organizations.  There will a lot of fun and giveaways both days. 

VACCINATION OPPORTUNITIES: The NMU Health Center is still available for COVID-19 vaccinations for anyone on campus who wants or needs one. Vaccinations are free and if you upload your vaccination information into NMU’s Bridge system before the end of September, you qualify for Northern’s $100 dining credit thank you that can be used at any of the on-campus eateries. The Center is offering the choice of a Johnson & Johnson or Pfizer vaccine. If you didn’t see it, this morning (Aug. 23), the Pfizer vaccine was granted full FDA approval.  To make an appointment at the Health Center, call 906-227-2355.  Northern will resume its COVID-19 dashboard operations, including the latest vaccination rates, on Tuesday once we have first-day enrollment numbers available.

PASSPORT ITEM PICKUPS:  If you missed Passport to Campus due to a late arrival to campus, you can pick up your start-of-semester items at the various offices during regular business hours this week.  If you still need to pick up your Wildcat ID and textbooks, you will find those in the Northern Center. For a parking pass or to register your bike, go the NMU Police Department in the Services Building on Sugarloaf Avenue. If you were sent information telling you to pick up or exchange your notebook computer, you need to go to the lower level of Harden Hall for that. Assistance with searches for on-campus jobs is available at Career Services in Hedgcock. NMU masks are available in the Dean of Students office in Hedgcock. If you have questions, you can send them to SafeOnCampus@nmu.edu and they will be forwarded to the right area to assist you.

I know we would all like to be starting a semester that was free from worry about COVID-19. However, our most valuable tools to fight the virus are all doable things. Consider being vaccinated if you aren’t already, wear a mask (properly, over nose and mouth) whenever you are around groups of people to add a layer of protection for yourself and others, and wash yours hands, wash your hands, wash your hands.  We’re off to a good start. Let’s keep the momentum going.

Stay safe,
Fritz Erickson, NMU President

NMU Students, Faculty and Staff,

In the last email, I shared our expected university pandemic protocols for the fall semester. Shortly after that mailing, the CDC came out with new information about higher transmissibility levels of COVID’s Delta variant even by vaccinated individuals. Additionally, Delta-driven COVID cases have continued to rise in many areas of the nation. Fortunately, Marquette County, as of today, is still designated by CDC measures as a low-risk environment.

Although Marquette currently has a low rate of COVID-19 cases, the start of the semester brings a lot of people together coming from areas all over the state, region and country, including many areas where the COVID-19 Delta variant is prevalent. In light of the new CDC information and rising Delta-related COVID cases, we feel that requiring masks where we know larger groups will be gathered indoors for at least the start of the semester will add an extra layer of protection for students, faculty and staff. This is especially true for activities that are required, such as classes, while other campus activities, which are not required, remain the choice of each individual.

Thus, Northern is revising its mask protocol for the start of the fall semester with these three mask requirements:

1)      All individuals, vaccinated or not, who are participating in residence hall move-in activities are required to properly wear a mask (over both nose and mouth) while in any residence hall common area (hallways, lobbies, The Lodge, restrooms, lounge areas, etc.) during the campus move-in period of Thursday morning, Aug. 19, until Monday morning, Aug. 23, which is the first day of fall classes. This includes students, staff and visitors, including parents and other family members and friends of hall residents. Please remember that masks are still required in all common areas (hallways, lounges, etc.) inside an NMU facility for individuals who have not fully completed the vaccination process.

2)      Starting Monday, Aug. 23, Northern will require ALL members of the NMU campus community, both vaccinated and not vaccinated, to wear masks while in classrooms and laboratories. This protocol will be reviewed continuously. Again masks are still required in all common areas (hallways, lounges, etc.) inside an NMU facility for individuals who have not fully completed the vaccination process.

3)      Northern will allow faculty and staff to require masks for visitors to their individual offices, regardless of vaccination status, where social distancing cannot be applied. (Most departmental work areas can implement social distancing options; contact SafeOnCampus@nmu.edu for assistance, if needed.) Signs for individual work and living spaces will be made available for pick up at centralized locations across campus beginning August 16.

A reminder of the current mask policy that remains in place until Aug. 23: All individuals not fully vaccinated are required to properly wear a mask when inside any NMU facility.

If you have been vaccinated but have not yet uploaded your information, please do so here in order to redeem your $100 dining credit thank you gift for use at any of NMU’s on-campus eateries. We encourage all those who will be on campus this semester to get vaccinated.  If you need information on how to apply for a medical exemption regarding wearing a mask, contact SafeOnCampus@nmu.edu.

Northern consults regularly with the Marquette County Health Department on COVID-19 trends in Marquette and the Upper Peninsula. We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation locally, statewide and beyond.

Stay safe,
Fritz Erickson, NMU President

NMU Students, Faculty and Staff,

Today, I want to share with you two things: 1) our reported vaccination rates as of right now, and 2) an update on some of Northern’s pandemic protocols for this upcoming academic year. I know this information will help answer questions for many of you about what to expect this fall when you return to campus.

Keep in mind, changes may occur as the public health situation changes. For instance, on Tuesday (July 27), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revised its recommendation regarding vaccinated individuals wearing masks when indoors for areas that have high rates of active COVID-19 cases. Northern’s current mask protocol is to require only unvaccinated individuals to wear masks when indoors. Since Marquette and most of the Upper Peninsula are not at the level the CDC considers high risk, we’re not going to change our policy for now and we’ll continue to monitor the situation. That said, although we are not requiring masks indoors for those who are vaccinated, we encourage and support anyone who chooses to wear a mask.

I realize this email is lengthy, but I ask all students, faculty and staff to read the entire document. There are points throughout that relate to different individuals and you need to know what is expected of you. There are additional protocols not mentioned here that are still under review (i.e. study abroad, university-sponsored travel and others) that I will address next week so that this email isn’t even longer.  Thanks for your patience on those matters.

VACCINATION RATES: We wanted to wait until around this time so that students completing orientation had the opportunity to get their vaccination documentation uploaded, as many in that group are only now finalizing the vaccination process. We assume all of the numbers below are somewhat conservative because these are based only on uploads to The Bridge app, even though we know there are individuals who are vaccinated but have not uploaded their documentation. Thus, these numbers won’t go down; they will only go higher as we get closer to the start of the semester. State and national goals for vaccination have been to reach 70% of a population.

Here are our current rates:

  • Overall on-campus population (students, faculty, staff): 63%
  • Overall on-campus student population: 63%
  •  Residence hall students only: 53% (keep in mind this group includes many of the first-year students who are still going through the vaccination process and/or still need to attend orientation where they learn about the uploading process)
  • Employee population: 79%

PANDEMIC PROTOCOLS: What follows are some of the more major pandemic protocols for Fall 2021. Again, I remind you that these might change in the event that the COVID-19 situation on campus, in Marquette or the U.P., or in the state change.  Providing that all stays as is right now, these would be the expectations of students, faculty and staff.

VACCINE MANDATE: NMU does not have a vaccination requirement for students or employees at this time. Students do not need to be vaccinated for attending this fall semester.

  • There may be external entities (i.e. state, federal government, NCAA or athletic conference, others) or significant changes to the public health situation that impact our decision-making on this at some point in the future, but Northern’s intention is not to require vaccination to attend NMU or work here.
     
  • Individuals (employees and students) without vaccination documentation provided to The Bridge app will be required to demonstrate regular symptom self-monitoring (except during official University breaks).  More details on the specific process to come in an upcoming email.
     
  • Some off-campus clinical sites used for student learning may have vaccination mandates. It will be the unvaccinated student’s responsibility to work with their instructor to come up with an alternative option.

MASK REQUIREMENTS: Unvaccinated students, faculty, staff and visitors are required to properly wear a mask (over nose and mouth) when indoors of an NMU facility.

  • This will be done on the honor system, meaning NMU will not outright ask who is vaccinated and who is not. However, violators of the policy are subject to employee/student discipline, if needed; violating guests will be asked to leave campus, if needed.
     
  • All vaccinated individuals are also WELCOMED and ENCOURAGED to wear masks, as needed or desired.
     
  • Some campus areas with restrictive space or those mandated by the state or federal requirement (i.e. NMU Health Center) may require all individuals (vaccinated and not vaccinated) to wear masks. These places will be clearly signed.
     
  • Some off-campus clinical sites used for student learning may have mask requirements, including for vaccinated individuals. Students must comply with these mask mandates and those who have medical exemptions on file for mask usage will need to work with their faculty to develop alternative learning opportunities.
     
  • All individuals, vaccinated and not vaccinated, are asked to have access to masks that can be used for University situations that require a facial covering. NMU masks will be available to students at the Dean of Students office (2001 Hedgcock) and to employees at the Human Resources office (105 Cohodas Hall). 
     
  •  Intercollegiate, National Training Site, club sport and intramural student-athletes will follow the NCAA, their conference, professional sport association, and NMU Athletic Department rules regarding masks for sports practices and competitions.  When not participating in team practices and games, NMU requirements apply.
     

COVID-19 TESTING: Northern will not hold mass COVID-19 testing events. NMU Health Center will test symptomatic individuals or potential outbreak areas/groups.

  • NMU will hold a COVID-19 vaccination clinic during move-in week, but will not hold a mass COVID-19 testing event. COVID-19 tests will not be required for attendance at the start of the semester as they were last year. The CDC does not recommend mass testing of vaccinated individuals.
     
  • The NMU Health Center will have set hours for COVID-19 testing appointments and will test symptomatic individuals during these hours. Area pharmacies are available for COVID-19 testing if an NMU individual is symptomatic and needs to test outside of the NMU Health Center testing availability or if asymptomatic but worried about possible COVID-19 exposure.
     
  •  If active cases or symptom self-monitoring data collected by the University indicate an area of campus or a specific group may be infected, Northern may require group/area members to do COVID-19 testing.
     

ISOLATION/QUARANTINE: Northern has moved isolation/quarantine activities from Spalding Hall to Spooner Hall, and will have available 26 beds for isolation and quarantine purposes for NMU residence hall students.

  • Per CDC recommendation, vaccinated individuals who are identified as a close contact will not be required to quarantine, providing they have no symptoms. They will need to self-monitor for symptoms.
     
  • Infected residence hall students or those identified as unvaccinated close contacts requiring quarantine will have the option to return home for their isolation/quarantine period if they choose, providing they are well enough to travel.
     
  • Unlike last year, faculty members will not be required to provide remote learning options for those in isolation or quarantine. It will be up to the student to work with their faculty to develop a plan for how to make up missed class time, assignments and learning opportunities. It will be the faculty member’s choice if they want to make Zoom an option to students missing class due to illness, isolation or quarantine.
     
  • International students must follow the current CDC requirements for quarantine upon arrival in the United States. The NMU Health Center will be available for the required COVID-19 testing.
     

CONSISTENCY ACROSS CAMPUS: Northern will make every effort to keep pandemic protocols consistent across campus to the extent that creating a safe campus environment during a pandemic will allow.

  • Individual faculty and supervisors cannot make vaccination, mask or other protocols for their spaces and people that are different from university-wide protocols without written approval from the NMU COVID-19 Logistics Team directors AND the unit’s division leader.
     
  • Faculty are encouraged to use technology in ways that enhance their course’s learning experiences, but technology is not to be used in any way that replaces the on-campus instruction for courses that were scheduled to be delivered face-to-face.
     
  • All faculty and employment supervisors are to encourage individuals who are not feeling well or have COVID-19 symptoms to stay home – away from classes, work and campus events.

This is an overview of some of the broader pandemic protocols in place. I hope this information helps you to know what to expect for the fall semester. The goal remains that each of us sees it as our personal responsibility to take care of ourselves; our classmates, colleagues and neighbors; and our overall university and Marquette communities. If you have questions about these protocols, send those to SafeOnCampus@nmu.edu and a member of the NMU COVID-19 Response Team will respond.

Stay safe,
Fritz Erickson, NMU President

P.S. Students, here’s the link again if you still need to let NMU know how you want your Fall 2021 federal stimulus grant applied. Here’s also the link to The Bridge app for uploading vaccination documentation.  

NMU Students, Faculty and Staff,

We have surpassed 4,000 uploads of vaccination status to The Bridge app by students, faculty and staff. Thank you so much for sharing this information as it has been immensely helpful to us in our pandemic protocol decision-making for the upcoming academic year. We have a rough draft of a revised COVID-19 dashboard that will include vaccination percentages that we plan to make live shortly. Please watch for that.  If you need assistance uploading your vaccination status into The Bridge, contact the NMU Help Desk at 906-227-2468 or helpdesk@nmu.edu. Thank you again for helping us understand our safety needs this fall.

DELTA VIRUS IN U.P.:  The Marquette County Health Department announced yesterday (Tuesday, July 20) a confirmed case of COVID’s Delta variant found in the Upper Peninsula, and the MCHD advised all residents of the U.P. to get vaccinated. While there is no need to panic over this information, it is important that individuals take appropriate safety precautions knowing the high level of transmission of this variant. Those who are unvaccinated should be diligent about wearing a facial mask properly (over nose and mouth) and social distancing whenever possible to protect yourselves and those you care about. Those who are vaccinated should consider wearing a mask when in large gatherings or if you have a vulnerable health situation. Everyone should continue to monitor for COVID-19 symptoms, get tested if you have symptoms, and wash your hands frequently.  To learn about vaccination sites in Michigan, go here

BOT RETREAT: The NMU Board of Trustees is meeting Thursday and Friday (July 22-23) for its annual July retreat.  Since this is a retreat, there is no formal business meeting scheduled. Among the topics on the agenda, the board will be updated on what NMU has done to address the pandemic in preparation for the upcoming year.

LESSONS LEARNED: Near the end of the winter semester, NMU sent a short survey to students, faculty and staff that asked, “What was done during the pandemic that NMU should continue?”  Below are actions NMU plans to continue into the future based on responses from the survey.

Health and Safety

  • Continue to focus on healthy life choices (hydration, healthy eating habits, exercise, proper hygiene, etc.)
  • Continue to support and to message about staying home when sick, especially during ‘flu season
  • Keep the sanitizing stations abundantly available around campus
  • Continue to increase over time the number of buildings with the new Elkay water bottle fillers

Remote Work

  •  Many staff employees responded that flexibility for some remote work opportunities (with supervisor approval) was highly desired. NMU will work to implement a flexible work arrangements policy (including hybrid and remote work) for non-represented staff in Fall 2021 and will work on memorandums of understanding to address remote/hybrid work with relevant staff unions during the 2021-22 academic year.

Communications

  • Continue informational emails from the president
  • Stream live the university forums held each semester when they return to in-person events
  • Continue to hold supervisor forums

Technology

  • Continue to use a “Passport to Campus” type app for many uses and events on campus
  • Continue to hold a “Passport to Campus” type event at the Northern Center to navigate all of the various “start of semester” pickup tasks
  • Continue to consider Zoom meetings an alternative option for meetings or available to use simultaneously with in-person format for meetings when it is known that individuals may not be able to attend in person
  • Provide new technology workshops for faculty and staff to continue to learn what’s out there and how to use it to enhance their courses

Other

  • Hold an event(s) to introduce pandemic period hires to others on campus
  • Return to the traditional academic calendar and make sure it includes spring break

Even in a public health emergency, there are lessons to be learned and good ideas to pursue.

Stay safe,
Fritz Erickson, NMU President

NMU Students, Faculty and Staff,

I have been petitioned by a number of students who have been in the vaccination process and were unable to get their second shot (for a wide variety of reasons) prior to the July 1 deadline Northern had for uploading the vaccination information and receiving the full $100 dining credit thank you gift. The credit was originally scheduled to go to $50 for uploads from July 2 to August 1. However, based on these requests, the Executive Council and I are extending the full $100 thank you credit until Aug. 13, the date tuition and fees are due.

However, I am asking that if you complete your vaccination, please upload your information into The Bridge app as soon as possible. If you need more information on how to do this, go here. If you need help in actually uploading, contact the NMU Help Desk (227-2468, helpdesk@nmu.edu) and staff will walk you through the process. Getting as much information about our potential vaccination levels for the upcoming year as early as possible this summer has been incredibly important to our decision-making for fall.  We thank the thousands of NMU students, faculty and staff who have shared with us the fact that they’ve been vaccinated. In Marquette, you can be vaccinated at a number of Marquette area pharmacies and health care providers  or by the Marquette County Health Department (906-275-7847). Email SafeOnCampus@nmu.edu if you need vaccination assistance for areas outside of Marquette.

MICHIGAN SWEEPSTAKES: I want to bring to your attention the MI SHOT TO WIN campaign for individuals residing in Michigan who have been vaccinated or are in the process of being vaccinated. Regardless of how you feel about vaccination incentive programs – and I know some of you are strongly in favor and others strongly opposed – the bottom line is that Meijer, the Michigan Association of United Ways and the State of Michigan are giving away $50,000 a day and awarding a $1 million and $2 million grand prize to some lucky individuals who are residing in the state. Why not have it be a Wildcat? You can learn more about the sweepstakes or register to enter here. The key details are that anyone who has been vaccinated between December 1, 2020 and July 31, 2021 can enter, but you must fill out the simple online form by July 31. It asks for your name, address, email and date of your first COVID-19 vaccination shot.  If your name is pulled for a prize, the state will verify your vaccination date.

HEERF GRANT DETAILS: In my last email about the NMU Board of Trustees setting tuition and fee rates, I informed you that grants will be given to help offset the increase, some funded by federal stimulus monies (Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund - HEERF) for those who qualify and others funded by Northern for those who don’t qualify for HEERF funds. Students have been emailing about what they need to do to apply. You won’t actually need to apply, but you will need to provide the Financial Aid office with some information via a short online form about how you’d like the grant applied. Watch your NMU email box next week for the link to that form. Grants start at $750 and go to $1,000 for full-time students (pro-rated for part-time students), depending on your eligibility. They are for all students except non-degree and dual-enrolled.

EXCUSE OUR DUST: Work being done in the Superior Dome and Berry Events Center is nearing completion and those facilities remain on schedule to reopen Sunday, July 18.  Additionally, the Quad I West Lobby is currently being renovated for the Housing and Residence Life Office. This project is on schedule and the department will relocate from Hedgcock to their new office in early October. We are also going to be starting work on the Cohodas Hall lobby renovation project in a few weeks (early August), a project scheduled to go into October. Watch your email for information from Engineering and Planning on any rerouting of traffic through the lobby over the coming weeks and months.

Several of us reviewed the feedback from the “Lessons Learned” surveys that Northern provided students and employees at the end of the winter semester as a way for individuals to express what things done during the pandemic they hoped we’d keep this year. When I write next, I’ll provide a rundown of the things we will do that were on that request list.  Only 41 days until the first day of fall classes. I hope you are enjoying your summer.

Stay safe,
Fritz Erickson, NMU President

Communications to Students Archive

View all email communications since February, 2020.