COVID-19 Status Blog

Minnesota Frontline Worker Pay

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To thank those Minnesotans who worked on the frontlines during the COVID-19 peacetime emergency, Gov. Tim Walz signed a law April 29, 2022, enabling those workers to apply for Frontline Worker Pay. Certain Augsburg employees may be eligible to apply for up to $1,500 through this program. 

Eligibility requirements:

  • Must have been employed at least 120 hours in Minnesota in one or more frontline sectors between March 15, 2020, and June 30, 2021.
  • For hours worked during that time period, the applicant was not able to telework due to the nature of their work and worked in close proximity to people outside their household.
  • Must meet income requirements for at least one of the 2020 or 2021 tax years.
  • Did not collect more than 20 total weeks of unemployment benefits between March 15, 2020, and June 26, 2021.

Applications are open between June 8 and July 22, 2022. See if you qualify and apply at frontlinepay.mn.gov.

COVID-19 community spread informs campus policies

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Augsburg continues to monitor CDC community levels data and Minnesota Department of Health guidance to inform on-campus prevention efforts. As of May 19, Hennepin County remains in the medium level of community spread, and masks are recommended indoors but not required by the city of Minneapolis. Should the county move to a high level of community spread, Augsburg may implement additional mitigation strategies, potentially including an on-campus mask mandate.

MDH guidelines for higher education updated May 2022

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On May 2, the Minnesota Department of Health issued updated guidance for campus transmission levels at institutions of higher education. The new guidance uses the institution’s ability to respond to cases and the available space for on-campus student isolation to determine the campus level (low, medium or high). The CDC’s community levels data continue to be the key regional metrics. Augsburg’s COVID-19 dashboard report and key metrics table were updated on May 7 to reflect this updated guidance.

Below are the key metrics used to assess campus transmission levels as of May 7, 2022.

Level Case response capacity % of isolation beds full 7-day case rate per 100,000 7-day COVID-19 admissions per 100,000 % of inpatient COVID-19 beds over 7 days
Low Manageable Less than half full < 200 < 10.0 < 10.0%
Medium At capacity More than half full < 200
200+
10 – 19.9
< 10.0
10.0% – 14.9%
< 10.0%
High Over capacity Completely full 200+
any #
> 10.0
> 20.0
> 10.0%
> 15.0%

Mid-semester updates for Spring 2022

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With the change in CDC guidelines and new guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health, along with low COVID-19 transmission rates in Hennepin and Ramsey counties, Augsburg University has made changes to some of its policies.

  • Currently masks are no longer required for vaccinated individuals, except at specific events or in the classroom at the request of a faculty member. Unvaccinated individuals must still wear masks indoors on campus.
  • We have updated our guest policy to allow visitors who do not live on campus in the residence halls.

Because vaccines and testing are part of successfully managing COVID-19, Augsburg is also offering a vaccine clinic on March 30 for anyone who would like to receive a first, second, or booster dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. This event is open to all members of the Augsburg community as well as the general public ages 5 and older. 

In addition, Augsburg offers free testing for students, staff, and faculty on Mondays and Thursdays, 4:30-6:30 p.m., in Gundale Chapel.

Augsburg continues to monitor trends and MDH guidance for higher education institutions. We may change our policies in the future if the situation warrants it.

Return to campus for spring term 2022

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As in the fall semester, we return to campus this spring with heightened attention to our key mitigation protocols. The mitigation list should look familiar by now, but with the regional increase in the highly transmissible omicron variant, the following summary includes some important reminders and specifics about Augsburg’s protocols.

  • Monitoring symptoms and reporting cases.

    • There is some evidence that symptoms appear sooner with the omicron variant, particularly in vaccinated individuals. Paying attention to symptoms helps reduce transmission if people stay home when they are sick.

    • If you have symptoms, have tested positive, or are exposed to someone with COVID-19, please submit the self report form so that the Augsburg COVID Response Team can provide you with information and support applicable to your role and situation.

    • Students are encouraged to report illness or required isolation/quarantine to their instructors and to make every effort to keep up with coursework when isolating or in quarantine.

    • Instructors may contact Dean of Students Sarah Griesse when students report COVID-19 cases to you to ensure the appropriate follow up is undertaken. Shifts from face-to-face to remote instruction continue to require approval from the appropriate academic dean.

  • Indoor masking. 

    • Masks are required indoors on campus except in designated areas (see protocols). You should also consider wearing a mask in indoor or crowded outdoor settings off campus. Note: Both the City of Minneapolis and the City of St. Paul announced indoor mask mandates, effective Thursday, January 6.)

    • Well-fitted masks provide important protection. N95 and KN95 masks offer the best protection. The next best options are multi-layered masks and double masking. See mask recommendations from MDH for more information.

    • There are some areas on campus where more consistent adherence to the mask mandate is needed, including informal study areas (e.g., Lindell Library, Hagfors Center, etc.) and the fitness center. Please pay attention to the mask requirement when you are in those spaces.

  • Limiting the number of people you are in close contact with where possible. 

    • In classrooms, this may mean assigned seating or structured activities that reduce the number of close interactions and maintain as much distance as the space allows.

    • In meetings and other activities, reducing the number of in-person attendees, increasing distance, and offering remote access alternatives are recommended when feasible.

  • Getting vaccinated or boosted. Find and schedule a vaccination appointment.

    • Augsburg strongly recommends but is not requiring the booster at this time. We do anticipate the need to track booster status in the near future, especially if new higher education protocols require quarantine for individuals who are not boosted or recently vaccinated.

    • Everyone 18 and older is eligible for a booster if it has been more than six months since you got your second Moderna vaccination, more than five months since you got your second Pfizer/BioNTech vaccination, or more than two months since the one-dose J&J vaccination. Most Auggies are vaccinated, but many had their last shot last spring or summer. The booster reduces the likelihood you will become infected and significantly reduces the chances of developing serious illness.

    • If the Minnesota Department of Health changes quarantine requirements for higher education to align with recent CDC recommendations, boosted or recently vaccinated individuals can avoid the disruption of required quarantine following an exposure to a positive case.

    • If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, it’s still not too late. Minnesota’s vaccination centers are ready to help you get your first or next dose. Also, if you got your first Pfizer or Moderna shot several months ago, you don’t have to start over; you can still schedule the second dose now, using the link above.

Thank you for your continued efforts to keep our community safe. As always, if you have questions, please submit them to the Augsburg Helpline.

Layers of mitigations can help fight the spread of COVID-19

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We are currently seeing a post-Thanksgiving bump in regional COVID-19 cases at the same time as the first case of the omicron variant has been detected in Minnesota. It is too early to know if the omicron variant will become the dominant variant and how that will affect COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations. Members of Augsburg’s COVID-19 Task Force participate in meetings with the Minnesota Department of Health and are staying on top of news and advice regarding the variant.

We do know that it is helpful to layer mitigations as a strategy to fight the spread of COVID-19. That means not just relying on one thing, such as the vaccine or a mask, but embracing several approaches to stop the spread.

Please keep all of these effective mitigations in mind, especially as the end of the semester approaches. “Layer” as many as you can into your activities and interactions.

  • Get vaccinated or get a booster if you haven’t already done so. All adults who were vaccinated at least six months ago now qualify for boosters. 
  • Pay attention to your symptoms:
    • Complete the #CampusClear daily symptom screening app whenever you come to campus or leave a residence hall unit.
    • Stay home and stay away from others if you are sick, whether you are vaccinated or not.  
  • Wear a well-fitted face mask in indoor campus spaces, except when eating in dining areas or when in one’s own residential unit or individual office with the door closed. It’s also a good idea to wear a well-fitted mask in indoor public spaces off campus, such as in stores, places of worship, and recreational facilities.
  • Minimize the number of people you are in close contact with. This will limit the number of people who will need to quarantine or get tested if you test positive for COVID-19.
  • Get tested if you experience symptoms or if you were in close contact with someone who was diagnosed with COVID-19.

If you are vaccinated and test positive for COVID-19, or if you are unvaccinated and test positive for COVID-19 or are exposed to someone with COVID-19, complete the COVID-19 self-report form so that the Augsburg’s COVID-19 Response Team can follow up with you to ensure the appropriate next steps are taken.

Preparing for Thanksgiving

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As we approach Thanksgiving, when many of us will gather with friends and family, we need to keep in mind that case rates, positivity rates, and hospitalization rates are very high in Minnesota, including the Twin Cities metropolitan area. (See the 6-week trends in the COVID-19 Dashboard Metrics report.)

We encourage our community members to keep in mind the following advice from the Minnesota Department of Health:

  • Outdoors is safer than indoors.
  • Avoid crowded, poorly ventilated spaces, and wear masks in indoor public spaces, even when not required.
  • If you are sick or have symptoms, do not host or attend a gathering.
  • Get tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have close contact with someone who has COVID-19.
  • If you are gathering with a group of people from multiple households and potentially from different parts of the country, consider some additional precautions prior to gathering (e.g., lay low before you go, avoid crowded indoor spaces, get tested in advance) to further reduce risk.
  • Protect young children and those with weakened immune systems by getting vaccinated.

Also, please remember that, as of November 19, all adults 18 and older are eligible for a COVID-19 booster shot at least six months after the second dose of Pfizer or Moderna or two months after the first dose of Johnson & Johnson. Learn more from the Minnesota Department of Health.

Augsburg Campuswide COVID-19 Vaccination Rates

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As of Monday, August 30, more than 80% of Augsburg students, staff, and faculty were fully vaccinated. Additionally, more than 86% have at least one dose, so we expect the fully vaccinated number to continue to increase over the next few weeks.

Augsburg’s vaccinate rate combines student and faculty/ staff rates. The student rate is calculated using an aggregate report from the Minnesota Department of Health, which covers nearly 94% of students, in all programs, registered for the fall semester. This MDH report does not provide the status of individual students, but does confirm the aggregate number of registered students who have at least one dose of the vaccine and who are fully vaccinated. The faculty and staff rate is a much smaller portion of the overall rate and currently is based on self-reported data from employees. The faculty and staff rate will be updated with actual data when the status of all employees’ vaccinations have been verified.

As previously communicated, Augsburg extended its mask mandate through September in order to provide additional time for those in the process of getting vaccinated to receive their final doses. During this time, it is important that we all continue to follow the behaviors that will help keep you and those around you healthy.

Finally, we still need to confirm the individual vaccination status for some students, and we will continue to follow up with those individuals until all students have met the requirements of Augsburg’s vaccine mandate. Failure to meet the mandate requirements may result in disciplinary review, so if you receive an email regarding your vaccination status, please respond to it promptly.

 

Augsburg Extends Indoor Mask Mandate through September

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Due to persistent high COVID-19 regional transmission rates and the need for additional time for a number of students to get their final vaccination doses, Augsburg is extending the indoor face covering requirement through the month of September.

Because the COVID-19 Delta variant is airborne, it is important to wear a mask in any indoor space where others are present or could be present before or after you were there. This includes:

  • study areas (e.g., in Hagfors Center, Lindell Library, etc.),
  • lobby areas,
  • restrooms,
  • hallways, stairwells, and elevators,
  • classrooms and meeting rooms,
  • and other shared or common spaces.

Indoor masks are not required in one’s own residential unit or individual office with the door closed, or when eating in designated campus dining areas. Campus dining areas currently include the Dining Commons and Einsteins coffee shop in Christensen Center.

Due to staffing vacancies, Nabo and Kafe Kafeega will not be open until later in the semester. When those venues open, additional spaces may be designated as dining areas. Eating outdoors on campus is also a good
option, when weather permits. Masks or face coverings are not required outdoors on campus, although there may be specific outdoor events where masks may be required if close contact and large crowds are expected.

We will continue to monitor the regional transmission rate and report weekly on Augsburg’s COVID-19 Dashboard during September and adjust mitigation protocols based on campus and regional transmission levels. If you have questions about COVID-19 requirements in specific situations, please contact the helpline@augsburg.edu, and your questions will be forwarded to the appropriate party.

Augsburg Reinstates Indoor Mask Policy Due to Substantial Regional COVID-19 Transmission Rates

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that all individuals—vaccinated and unvaccinated—wear face coverings in public indoor spaces in any county where the COVID-19 transmission rate is substantial or high.

During the last weekend in July, cases in Hennepin and Ramsey counties moved to a “substantial” transmission rate (between 50 and 99.99 cases per 100,000 population over 7 days, as defined by the CDC). As a result, Augsburg reinstated the indoor face covering requirement, effective August 3.

All students, staff, and faculty are required to wear face coverings in indoor campus spaces, except when eating in dining areas or when in one’s own residential unit or individual office with the door closed. This applies to all U.S. Augsburg locations. (International Augsburg locations are following local protocols.) Masks or face coverings are not required outdoors. 

The indoor mask requirement is expected to remain in effect until regional case rates return to moderate or low levels. Augsburg has added the 7-day regional case rate for Hennepin and Ramsey counties to its COVID-19 dashboard report, which is updated weekly. 

With the increasing prevalence of the significantly more transmissible COVID-19 Delta variant, Augsburg will continue to adapt its public health protocols this fall based on campus case and vaccination rates, regional transmission rates, and other factors on campus. 

While masks or face coverings provide an important additional layer of protection during times when transmission levels are significant, the most important protection against severe illness from COVID-19 is to get vaccinated. That’s why Augsburg remains committed to supporting individuals who would like information about or help with COVID-19 vaccinations. Information provided will remain confidential to the Augsburg COVID-19 Response Team.