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MTU: Employees must get COVID-19 vaccine

HOUGHTON — Michigan Technological University employees must become fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by the spring semester in order to comply with new federal mandates, the university announced Friday.

The move follows President Joe Biden’s executive order and related guidance specifying that federal contractors and subcontractors must get the COVID-19 vaccine. Because Michigan Tech receives part of its research funding through federal contracts, it needs to follow the mandates as long as they’re in effect, the university said.

All employees, including part-time or student employees, will be required to be vaccinated starting Jan. 10. Employees must provide proof of vaccination unless they receive a medical or religious exemption. Requests for the exemption are confidential.

Federal contractors are also required to adopt a policy on face coverings based on community transmission levels of COVID. In areas where the COVID risk is high or substantial, fully vaccinated people are required to wear a mask indoors, according to Safer Federal Workforce Task Force guidelines issued in September.

The risk is determined by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention standards:substantial is 50 to 99 weekly cases per 100,000; high is anything over that.

Houghton County has been at a substantial level or higher since Aug. 8, according to state figures. It is currently at 426 weekly cases per 100,000.

With a rising number of cases, Michigan Tech also moved back to Level 2 of its five-tier health and safety plan Monday. As was the case at the start of the semester, face coverings are required in all buildings on campus, aside from the Student Development Complex and the Gates Tennis Center. People are not required to wear face coverings when alone in an enclosed space.

“I would like to thank everyone on our campus for your remarkable commitment to the health and safety of our community during the pandemic,” President Rick Koubek said in a statement announcing the requirement. “I also recognize and appreciate your flexibility and patience. The constantly changing nature of this situation continues to test our fortitude, but we have proven that no challenge is too formidable for our campus community to overcome.”

Tech joins a number of universities announcing the mandate this month that have explicitly tied it to the federal mandate, including Pennsylvania State University, Rutgers University and the University of Minnesota.

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