Minnesota State University, Mankato started spring semester Monday with in-person classes as scheduled while keeping an eye on the rise of COVID-19 numbers.
Recently a spike of COVID-19 cases and, more specifically the Omicron variant, has been rapidly making its way across the country which has impacted several college campuses to take further action to prevent the spread.
MSU currently requires masks be worn in all indoor buildings as well as encourages social distancing.
Contracting COVID is a reality that the majority will face as MSU has measures in place for those specific scenarios.
“We want to encourage that when a student has a concern they were in contact with someone who has COVID or has COVID themselves, we find ways to keep them moving in their classes and also report to our hotline and help us contain that spread,” Brian Martensen, Interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, said.
Martensen oversees the academic operations of the University and has been a part of MSU since 2006.
“We know that students are most successful when class is held in-person, for example labs and clinicals,” he said. “Our goal is to keep those programs going in ways that are safe and effective.”
MSU is limiting person-to-person contact both in the classroom and outside of the classroom.
“If we can find places where larger events can be moved to hybrid or online to avoid large gatherings, that’s helpful. Limiting food is a big one, and seeing which pockets are leading to outbreaks,” Martensen expressed.
Limiting classroom activities when possible is another strategy being used inside the classroom.
Martensen said roughly 92% of employees and 72% of students at MNSU are vaccinated. He also said the newer Omicron variant is known to cause less severe symptoms to those who have been vaccinated.
If MNSU were to go back online that would be a discussion cabinet members and President Edward Inch would decide upon.
MNSU is part of the Minnesota state school system which also has COVID-19 guidelines and protocols which MNSU has enforced as well as highly encourages students and faculty to get vaccinated and boosted.
The university regularly has a call every other week with the Minnesota Department of Health in which they run scenarios and discuss the current state of COVID-19 on campus and what precautions they can take.
It is predicted that the peak of this COVID-19 wave may hit the state of Minnesota in the coming weeks then tail off as seen in past spikes.
According to the Minnesota Department of Health, Monday’s COVID-19 update included 10,964 newly reported cases and 44 newly reported deaths. Minnesota’s COVID-19 death toll is now at 10,810.