A few items for discussion:
1. Improving Conditions. COVID-19 remains a serious and dangerous problem, but across the country, it appears that we’ve turned a corner. Case numbers are falling, and more people are receiving vaccinations every day. President Biden indicated this week that every adult American will be able to receive a shot by May. That will be a truly remarkable achievement.
The improved conditions are also being felt on campus. I’m happy to see the increasing number of people on campus. For example, the Memorial Union is averaging over 1,000 more people per day than the end of last semester. While that’s not up to normal, it is a big improvement, and it’s a sure sign that things are improving. I never thought I’d appreciate waiting in line for food, but it’s strangely comforting to get lunch at Twisted Taco and not walk right up to the counter.
With all that being said, we are not yet in the clear, and until we are, we need to adhere to the safety guidelines so that our COVID numbers do not reverse their downward trend. Of particular importance, we need to continue to wear our masks on campus for a while longer.
Soon enough (hopefully just a few weeks), vaccinations will be readily available for higher education, and after that, we can start to explore relaxing the restrictions.
2. Vaccination Information. We’re optimistic that vaccinations for higher education will be available within a matter of weeks, not months. We encourage everyone in the NDSU community to get a vaccination when they are eligible. I understand that people may have questions about the various vaccinations, so I am pleased to note that next week, Kylie Hall, from the NDSU Center for Immunization Research and Education will be hosting multiple sessions of “COVID-19 Vaccines: What You Need to Know” for all NDSU employees. An email was sent to all employees yesterday with the dates/times. I encourage you to attend one of the sessions or watch one of the recordings.
3. Spring Break. Spring break is almost here, and we are strongly encouraging every person who is traveling to get a test before they travel and when they return. Next Thursday will the only mass test available on NDSU campus prior to spring break. Please take advantage of it so that you do not risk the health and safety of those you will be visiting. Similarly, Thursday, March 25, will be the first mass test at NDSU after the break. Please get tested at that point as well because we don’t want you endangering our community after your return.
4. Testing Results. We continue to see improving conditions throughout the state, but I want to reiterate that we are not out of the woods yet. We need to continue with the safety guidelines, including masks. Although our campus’ weekly testing participation rates are not as high as last semester, the positivity rates are extremely low:
BNX (Rapid Screening)
BNX (Rapid Screening)
5. Weekly Testing. Mass testing events will continue to be at the SHAC on Thursdays, and you should enter using the south doors. The dates and times are as follows:
March 4: 1-5 pm
March 11: 1-5 pm
March 18: 1-5 pm
March 25: 1-5 pm
For the following weeks, there will be incentives for students who get tested at the mass testing events on Thursdays:
- 16oz BOUsted Drink from Caribou
- Coupon valid between March 8th-12th
- $2.50 off anything at the Herd Shop
- Coupon valid between March 22nd-26th
- 24oz Icee from Pizza Express
- Coupon valid between March 29th- April 1st
For students only, in addition to the Thursday asymptomatic testing at the SHAC, asymptomatic testing is also available at the Student Health Service on Tuesdays from 8:30am - 4:30pm. No appointment is needed and students can walk-in. However, the incentives do not apply to this testing.
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