Yesterday, the Governor announced that Cass County would be moving from the Yellow level to the Orange level under the North Dakota Smart Restart Guidelines. However, the Governor also modified the restrictions within the Orange level. In a prior update, I indicated that the Orange level authorized a maximum gathering occupancy of 10 people, but the Orange level now allows for 25% occupancy with a cap of 50 people.
The good news is that the increase in capacity limits means that we will not have many operational changes on campus. Most of our classes have class enrollments smaller than 50, and because of HyFlex, the classes with enrollment over 50 are unlikely to have more than 50 students attending in person. The registrar will be communicating with the faculty who have sections larger than 50 to ensure that we comply with these requirements.
Beyond classes, there will also be changes to our dining operations. They will remain open for dine-in and take-out options, but the dine-in capacity will be reduced. Please remember that there is an NDSU Dining App that provides real-time occupancy rates for the dining halls. This is useful for knowing where and when to eat.
In addition, there will be capacity and activity limitations for the Wallman Wellness Center, but it will remain open. Finally, our Student Affairs personnel will be working with student organizations to review future activities and operations.
While these changes are inconvenient, I want people to keep a few things in mind:
- Changing Circumstances. All across the country, people were worried that the return of college students and activities would lead to outbreaks in college towns. While that did happen in some places, it hasn’t happened here. Because of the commitment of the NDSU community to living within the guidelines, we’ve managed to avoid a major outbreak of COVID-19. We should be proud of that fact. Ironically, at this point, I’m more worried about the community’s conduct impacting NDSU than the other way around. Regardless, this isn’t the time for any of us to let down our guard.
- HyFlex. I will be writing more about HyFlex in an upcoming campus update. However, I do want to point out that without the HyFlex model, it would have been very difficult to transition to both the Yellow and Orange levels. As it is, we have only had to implement modest operational changes. I understand that HyFlex can be difficult (we’re still installing new equipment every week to make it better), but it is far better than the alternative.
- Testing Information. Last week’s tests had a combined 1409 participants, and a positivity rate of 5.7%. On the one hand, I’m happy to see a significant increase in the number of people that got tested last week, but on the other hand, our positivity rate increased. Although our positivity rate was lower than Cass County’s rate during that time (>7%), we will need continue to monitor this rate.
- Weekly Testing. You may have seen that North Dakota continues to have some of the worst COVID-19 metrics in the country. I fear that we are in for at least a few rough months. Please continue to follow all guidance and get tested.
We’re continuing with the semi-weekly testing at the Shelly Ellig Indoor Track Facility (located directly southwest of the SHAC). There will be a test today (October 15) and Sunday (October 18) from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. each day.
Student government is running another drawing for Visa gift cards for students who get tested this week. First place is $250 and there are five additional $100 winners.
We would like every employee to get tested at least every other week. However, if you are working in an area with significant exposure to others, it would be better to get tested every week. As always, being tested at these events should be considered work time, and I’m asking supervisors to be flexible to allow for employee testing.
Some final points about testing:
· Testing is free.
· You can preregister here. However, if you have already registered for a prior testing event, you do not have to re-register.
· It is not limited to people living on campus. All students, including off-campus students, are encouraged to participate.
· You do not have to have symptoms in order to get this testing. In fact, this testing is only for individuals who are asymptomatic. If you are experiencing symptoms, please contact Student Health Service or your local health care facility to determine next steps.
Dean L. Bresciani, President
NORTH DAKOTA STATE UNIVERSITY