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FAQ

For the Minnesota vaccination/testing requirement for employees, please see MMB HR/LR Policy #1446 (6/11/2021) document, “Covid-19 Proof of Vaccination and Testing” here: https://mn.gov/mmb-stat/policies/1446-covid19testingvaccination.pdf

For the Minnesota State vaccination/testing requirement for students, please see the Chancellor’s August 18, 2021, memo “Student COVID-19 vaccination guidelines.”

In addition to the “attestation” requirements included in the documents referenced in item #1 above, the System Office has established a partnership with MDH (through the Minnesota Immunization Information Connection – MIIC) to capture vaccination rates in an aggregated manner for students and employees of each Minnesota State institution.

Working with its bargaining units, Bemidji State may also survey its employees and students, to assess vaccination rates. All survey responses will be anonymous, and used only in aggregate to inform COVID policy.

(Note that the bargaining unit heads have worked out half of a plan for doing this with Megan Zothman.)

We will continue to follow the direction of MDH, Minnesota State, and Local Public Health (i.e., Beltrami County Health) when implementing mitigation strategies or related restrictions. Based on the current set of circumstances, we expect to continue in-person operations.Housing and Residential Life will continue to provide isolation and quarantine housing for residential students. To date, BSU has not experienced any clusters in the residence halls. In the event that COVID-19 clusters should happen, the University will respond swiftly to provide support and to implement enhanced mitigation factors.

As of 8/9/21, BSU implemented an indoor face mask requirement for public spaces given that Beltrami County transmission levels reached high status. This masking requirement will remain in effect through October 1, 2021, and will be re-evaluated late September. 

In the event that a student refuses to comply with either a University policy or a syllabus statement that requires masking, the faculty member should work with the student to understand and address their concerns, being especially attentive to concerns about accessibility or equity. The student may have this discussion outside of class, but does not have the right to remain in class prior to that discussion. If a student refuses to mask in class after a request to put on a mask and the student refuses to leave the classroom at the faculty members request, the faculty member may notify Student Life of a violation of the Student Code of Conduct/University policy, adjourn class early to mitigate infection risks and/or institute a grade penalty. As a last resort, a faculty member may call security to remove the student from the classroom.

When Bemidji State mandates indoor masking, it will be the responsibility of faculty to enforce this mandate in their classroom and office. Faculty who do not feel able to enforce this requirement should work with their chair and dean to identify a strategy for enforcing masking.

In accordance with the Chancellor’s July 29, 2021 memo “Covid-19 Masking Guidance for the Fall Semester,” BSU “may implement masking protocols at [its] discretion after notifying Vice Chancellor Maki and discussing [its] intentions with him.” BSU administration and BSUFA executive committee are collaborating in developing a masking protocol to be used in instructional settings when the university-wide masking requirement is lifted.

Faculty members may wear a face mask at any point without fear of retaliation. Faculty members have a right, in their offices and during instruction in their own classrooms, to require masking by their students (except when other legal requirements like ADA apply). This should be done respectfully and equitably, and in way that does not impede the academic work of the students.

For students and employees who forget their masks, Bemidji State will make a limited supply of masks available in each building. All students and employees should bring at least two masks with them to campus for use that day.

Faculty and staff are further empowered to remind students of University policy on masking, when in the academic buildings, and can notify Student Life or Campus Security of egregious violations of masking policy.

A faculty member may practice/maintain at least 6 feet of physical distancing any point as the space provides and without fear of retaliation. Faculty members may likewise refuse to accept physical submissions of assignments by students, as long as faculty members provide another accessible medium for submitting assignments.

MMB Guidance on face coverings (#1442), https://mn.gov/mmb-stat/policies/1442-facecoveringsagencystaff.pdf allows faculty members or students who are speaking in a classroom to unmask while speaking, so long as the speaker is at least six feet from others.  

Faculty may request larger classrooms as space is available. BSU or NTC will not be adding additional sections to accommodate smaller class sizes. Requests should be made to the appropriate dean. If a larger space is not available, Academic Affairs will explore other reasonable measures to address the risk of infection in that class.

If a faculty or staff member does not know the vaccination status of a student or colleague who wants to join them in their office, they can provide their services to that student/colleague via Zoom, Teams, phone, or in an appropriately distanced space. Faculty and staff may ask if someone is vaccinated, if that person is seeking services from them. However, those who do not disclose their vaccination status should be treated with respect. Any private medical information that person chooses to disclose should not be recorded or shared with others.

Private medical information cannot be coerced or required from anyone. However, this does not require anyone on campus to place themselves in a situation where they reasonably fear infection.

In this scenario, someone is seeking services from a faculty or staff member and reveals that they are choosing, for non-medical reasons, to not be vaccinated. Faculty and staff can protect their health by requiring distancing (including online meetings) and masking. However, that person should be given clear and respectful guidance on how to receive services.

Yes. Faculty have the right to determine the medium by which they hold office hours, as long as their office hours are available in an equitable and accessible way. Please communicate clearly with students about the ways in which they can access office hours.

The Chancellor’s August 18, 2021 memo, “Student Covid-19 vaccination guidelines,” includes a requirement that campuses incentivize vaccination (page 3).

A vaccination clinic on campus is currently being scheduled during the first week of classes as well as after the Labor Day holiday weekend. Every student who receives their first vaccination at one of these clinics will receive a bookstore voucher for a t-shirt up to $35.  This voucher will not be redeemable for cash and is not a gift card.  After the second shot the student can enter a drawing to receive a credit of up to $500 towards their tuition, room/board, and/or fees. 

For the Minnesota vaccination/testing requirement for employees, please see MMB HR/LR Policy #1446 (6/11/2021) document, “Covid-19 Proof of Vaccination and Testing” here: https://mn.gov/mmb-stat/policies/1446-covid19testingvaccination.pdf

In the event that a student or colleague with whom you may reasonably have had close contact with is found to be positive for COVID-19, the University will contact you promptly to request what information you are able to provide regarding likely exposure, and to assist you with testing and any changes to the classroom that are necessary to prevent and track the spread of infection.

If faculty are notified by a student of testing positive for COVID-19, being closely exposed to COVID-19, displaying multiple symptoms of COVID, or quarantining in response to these developments, the faculty member should contact the Contact Tracing Team covid@bemidjistate.edu for guidance. The contact tracing team will inform the faculty member of the safe return date for the student and will work with the faculty member to identify any possible exposures that affect the faculty member, their classes and their work on campus. BSU is creating a taskforce to assist faculty with instructing students who are quarantining or isolating.