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Finlandia curbs activities for a week to stop COVID spread

HANCOCK — Finlandia University announced Monday it would end much of its face-to-face instruction and athletic activities for a week starting Wednesday, making it the latest academic institution to curtail activities in an effort to stop the community spread of COVID-19 in Houghton County.

In a letter to the Finlandia campus, President Philip Johnson said Finlandia should be encouraged by the steps it has taken to prevent COVID-19, but said the Finlandia community is concerned with the rise in cases going on in the community.

As of its most recent update, Finlandia has 10 active COVID-19 cases, with three recovered.

Houghton County’s COVID numbers jumped dramatically in September, going from 66 positive cases on Aug. 31 to 337 as of Friday.

“Protecting one another and our larger community is achievable,” Johnson said. “Now, again, we commit to safe behaviors. We commit to completing Finlandia’s daily symptom tracker. And, we commit to avoiding public, indoor, gathering spaces. We are in this, together. Sticking together we are able to stay together. Be safe. Be kind.”

Finlandia will hold lecture-based classes remotely at the same scheduled times, Johnson said in the letter. Professors are asked to reach out to their students with information regarding the delivery mode for studios, labs, practicals, clinicals, and capstones.

Team-based athletic activities — athletics team practices and team strength and conditioning sessions — are also suspended. Athletic training may continue in the Paavo Nurmi Center with a maximum capacity of 10 in each of the two venues. The Paavo Nurmi Center remains closed to the public.

Finlandia’s learning support services, library, and tutoring center remain open and available to students. Finlandia Hall and dining services remain open and operational.

All campus buildings currently open remain so with normal operations, including the Chapel of St. Matthew and Finlandia’s student pantry.

In light of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance about limiting travel, students who choose to travel outside of the area may be required to submit a negative test result upon return.

With Finlandia’s announcement, every major academic organization in Houghton County has closed all or some in-person learning in response to the COVID surge.

On Thursday, K-12 schools in Houghton County announced they would suspend in-person instruction for the next two weeks. A day later, Gogebic Community College followed suit, closing in-person classes aside from several labs. On Sunday, Michigan Technological University announced it would move to a more restrictive stage of its reopening plan for two weeks, including making all lecture-based classes remote starting Wednesday, while Enterprise, lab and other experiential courses were asked to notify students by Tuesday whether they would be virtual or in-person during that time.

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