Distribution of the COVID-19 vaccinations at NMU and throughout the country have recently allowed restrictions to be eased. As of May 19, NMU has allowed students who are vaccinated to enter campus buildings without masks—an optimistic turn of events for the difficult school year.
Much information is still being decided, and the MIOSHA and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is planning on making significant changes between now and July 1, assistant to the president Cindy Paavola said.
The university plans to continue this optimism by returning to standard in-person classrooms in the fall, without masks for those who are vaccinated, NMU president Fritz Erickson said. The CDC’s recommendation has been the reason behind this decision.
Maintaining how the university will be aware of students who have been vaccinated and are able to attend class without a mask is still being decided. However, students can inform NMU of their vaccinations through the Bridge app.
“We are doing that so that we can make decisions about what pandemic protocols are needed this fall based on the numbers reported,” Paavola said. “The board will be discussing whether a mandate is necessary at its July meeting. The decision will be influenced by what the reported numbers of vaccination are to The Bridge at that time and what is happening regarding COVID-19 outbreaks following the CDC and State of Michigan lifting of the mask requirement for vaccinated individuals.”
The summer will provide many answers once July passes. Medical director of the Vielmetti Health Center, Dr. Christopher Kirkpatrick, agrees with the administration as they continue to follow CDC guidelines.
“The administration has shown themselves to be reactive to the current guidelines so it’s an optimistic plan and still remains an optimistic plan. If the CDC and the other entities don’t think that’s a good idea, then the administration will change their plans,” Kirkpatrick said.
NMU altered classrooms significantly in order to provide a safe experience for students over the past year. From adjusting to an entirely online format to placing Plexiglas in classrooms and requiring masks, many are ready to see a return to normalcy.
“It’s hard to kinda tease apart how those protections work. In my opinion, I think they worked really well.” Kirkpatrick said. “I truly believe vaccination is the way out of this mess and I’m pretty optimistic with the numbers we’ve seen of people who have gotten vaccinated.”
The Vielmetti Health Center has supported students throughout COVID-19 and provides a multitude of resources for all students seeking care. The center provides services including contraceptives, STD testing, COVID-19 testing, mental health services and referrals and other services.
“If people need referrals to psychiatrists we actually have an agreement for a telepsychiatry that’s available to our students and patients. We have a wide variety of specialists in the Marquette area that we refer to as well if you need an orthopedic doctor or mental health, things like that. We really kinda do it all here,” Kirkpatrick said. More information about the Vielmetti Health Center can be found on their page. COVID-19 information will alter throughout the summer as CDC guidelines and university policies are updated.