I typically only do a handful of campus-wide updates a semester, but I’ll be sending them much more frequently this year. Don’t be surprised if you see these updates on a weekly or even semi-weekly basis. I need to keep campus apprised of significant issues on a timely basis, and this is the most efficient way of doing so.
- Additional Testing. I want to strongly encourage all students and employees (including people who have already been tested) to participate in the COVID-19 testing that will be taking place at the Shelly Ellig Indoor Track Facility (located next to the SHAC) from 4:00 – 8:00 tomorrow (Tuesday) and from noon - 6:00 Wednesday. Non-NDSU employees who work on the NDSU campus are also encouraged to participate and should identify their affiliation to NDSU campus at the testing site. No employee or student identification is required, and testing is free. You can preregister here.
You do not have to have symptoms in order to get this testing. In fact, this testing is particularly useful for identifying individuals who may be asymptomatic spreaders. We all want to minimize the amount of virus on campus to help have a successful fall semester, and this testing will be critically important to that effort.
- Increased Positive Cases. You may have noticed that the number of cases on campus increased from Friday to today. You can always find the current numbers here. The reason for the jump is that we had an excellent turn out for the testing at Rheault Farm on Friday. 589 people from campus were tested and we had approximately 40 positive tests.
On first blush, this may seem worrying, but please keep in mind that identifying positive cases is actually a good thing. First and foremost, it allows people who have tested positive to work with health care providers to get the information and care that they need. Secondly, every person who has tested positive goes into isolation, which helps prevent the spread on campus. This is particularly important for asymptomatic people who aren’t even aware that they are endangering others. In addition, public health officials contact trace each positive case and impacted people are quarantined, further reducing the probability of spread.
- Face Covering Guidance. As I mentioned last week, we have had really good compliance with face coverings on campus. However, we have heard about some areas where we can continue to improve. It’s important that we get this right because the CDC has indicated that face coverings are one of the most powerful weapons preventing the spread of the virus in community settings, and we all want to keep our positive numbers low in order to help ensure a successful semester.
I’ve slightly modified the face covering guidelines to provide less discretion in certain areas. Essentially, if you’re indoors and are around other people (even if in passing), you need to be wearing a face covering. Similarly, if you are outdoors and cannot at all times maintain a six foot distance from other people, you should be wearing a face covering.
While we need to err on the side of wearing face coverings, this does not mean that they must be worn at all times indoors. If an employee’s workspace is not located within 6 feet of another person, the employee does not have to wear a face covering (but should feel free to do so if they would like). Similarly, people outside do not have to wear face coverings if they are not going to be near other people, but are encouraged to do so.
Finally, students may momentarily remove their masks to eat/drink in class only if the faculty member allows food and beverage in the class.
Dean L. Bresciani, President
NORTH DAKOTA STATE UNIVERSITY