Updated August 18, 2021 – This information is correct and accurate as of the date it was posted and/or updated.


Bemidji State University is requiring masking in all public, indoor spaces beginning August 9, 2021, and ending no sooner than August 31.

This is a shift from plans announced during the August 5 Campus Forum. We had planned a two-part approach to masking, with Part 1 be a mandatory masking period starting August 15, and ending August 31 to coincide with fall startup. Part 2 is guided by changing trends in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 transmission indicators for Beltrami County. As it turns out, COVID conditions are dictating that Part 2 will actually begin first. Read on…

Yes. Some common exceptions are noted in this document. If you have specific questions, please ask them at a campus forum or submit them using the “I Have a Question” form.

BSU began tracking and recording Beltrami County’s daily COVID-19 transmission level from the CDC’s COVID-19 Integrated County View map on August 1. Minnesota State requires all of its 37 member colleges and universities to activate their masking protocols if their host county is elevated to substantial or high spread. We have developed a framework to require masking:

  1. …if Beltrami County is elevated to substantial spread and remains at substantial spread for a period of seven (7) consecutive days, OR
  2. …immediately upon reaching high spread.

Once implemented, masking will be required for a period of 14 days. The President’s Cabinet will evaluate the requirement near the end of the 14-day period and determine whether it should be extended or allowed to expire, based on local COVID-19 conditions.

We’re still working out the specific details of this plan, and are partnering with all bargaining units to further develop it.

However — Beltrami County was elevated to substantial spread on August 3, and the number of new cases recorded for August 4 were enough to guarantee we would remain at substantial spread for at least the next seven days — until August 9. You can read more about how we determined this below. In addition, Beltrami County was elevated to High spread on Saturday, August 7, which led to our August 8 announcement to immediately require masking beginning August 9. The two-week period of required masking beginning August 9 will overlap with our  already-planned Part 1 fall startup masking mandate; essentially, COVID conditions are requiring us to extend Part 1 by just a few days.

If the mask mandate expires on August 30, our Part 2 protocol will be used to implement future mask mandates as dictated by Beltrami County COVID-19 transmission conditions.

In response to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 transmission levels for Beltrami County, Bemidji State University and Northwest Technical College have instituted a masking requirement for all persons in indoor, public spaces on both campuses.

Mask usage is required in indoor, public spaces on campus through at least Friday, October 1.

Transmission levels are determined by two factors: the number of new positive cases of COVID-19 in the county per 100,000 population in the previous seven-day period, and the percentage of COVID-19 tests administered in the county that returned positive results over the same seven-day period. Detailed information on how CDC evaluates these factors is included with the COVID-19 Integrated County View map.

24. The CDC calculations are based on a population for Beltrami County of 47,188; at this population, 24 cases is 50.86 cases per 100,000 population — or less than one case per 2,000 county residents. We would need to have 48 cases in a seven-day period to be considered a high-spread county; 48 cases is 101.72 cases per 100,000 population — less than one case per 1,000 county residents.

With our population, small changes in our number of cases will lead to large changes in CDC data. For every positive case, our number of cases per 100,000 population will increase by 2.12.

No. We are following CDC guidance and adhering to system requirements out of an abundance of caution, and not because our situation in Beltrami County has become threatening to our health and safety.

No. We are following CDC guidance and adhering to system requirements out of an abundance of caution, and not because our situation in Beltrami County has become threatening to our health and safety. There is no need for changes to campus operations at this time.

We are awaiting guidance from the system office on how and when we will be able to change our masking mandates. The best way to ensure we can end the use of face masks is to get vaccinated against COVID-19, and by encouraging those in our family and social circles to get vaccinated as well.

BSU joins all of our fellow Minnesota State colleges and universities in strongly recommending that all who are able to do so should get vaccinated against COVID-19 at their earliest convenience. Increasing the number of vaccinated people in our communities remains the quickest path toward the end of this pandemic. Governor Walz announced a requirement for state employees to either submit verifiable proof of vaccination; those who cannot supply an attestation of vaccination will need to take weekly COVID-19 tests. This is not a vaccination requirement but, rather, a reporting requirement.