Minnesota State College Southeast reports confirmed cases of COVID-19 on its website at www.southeastmn.edu/covid19 every Wednesday, and as the fall semester ends, those case numbers remain low.
“Fortunately, the college community has had a low incidence of confirmed cases of COVID-19 to date,” said Larry Lundblad, interim president. “The on-campus safety protocols that include social distancing, masks, daily online self-assessment, hand hygiene, and sanitation have been working.”
Even before the pandemic, about 40% of instruction at MSCSE was online and students don’t live in campus housing or share meals in dining halls, both factors in reducing the risk of transmission.
“People have been really good about communicating with college administration about transmission concerns, exposure, or COVID-19 symptoms,” said Josiah Litant, vice president of student affairs, “so we’ve been able to mitigate transmission to a large extent across both of our campuses.”
On Nov. 17, the college announced additional strategies to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
On a program-by-program basis, instructors are determining if they can shift some projects off campus or move in-person classes online after Thanksgiving break.
“Students who are studying online will continue to do so,” Litant said. “We aim for on-campus students to be able to complete their hands-on courses in the safest way possible that still ensures that they are able to learn the material effectively.”
Managers have been encouraged to further stagger employee schedules to increase the number of people working remotely. These staff members are still available by phone, email, and Zoom.
The number of tables in common areas is being reduced and chairs are limited to one per table. “Since we can’t wear masks while eating and drinking, we are urging everyone to eat alone, then enjoy social time wearing masks and keeping distanced,” Litant explained.
The college has adopted the “Count on Me” campaign to “Mask Up, Back Up, Wash Up, Check Up, and Check In” — originally created by Winona State University and now being shared across southeastern Minnesota.
“While we will continue to monitor our numbers, and we’re aware that health department guidelines may change, we feel fairly confident that the strategies we have put in place will allow us to operate safely in the current environment,” Litant said. “It’s important to keep our doors open, not only for on-campus instruction, but for student access to services like the food pantries, computers, and printing.”