The Northern Michigan University Board of Trustees on Thursday received updates on the extensive planning invested in COVID-19 safety protocols that are being implemented across campus before face-to-face instruction resumes for the fall semester.
Trustees heard a presentation from Col. Dave Adams, a consultant with extensive experience in national preparedness and resilience planning, global health security and biodefense policy. Adams helped the university develop an NMU Action Plan for the fall semester. He presented that document and discussed finalizing the trigger measurements that will be regularly monitored to assist in decision-making as trends change regarding COVID-19 infection rates in the Marquette area and on campus.
They also received an update from the NMU Covid-19 Task Force on preparations for the return to campus and provided the opportunity for public feedback afterward. Topics included testing, sanitizing, social distancing and mask requirements, PPE, classroom reconfiguration/barriers and IT logistical support. The task force is co-chaired by Cindy Paavola, assistant to the president for strategic initiatives, and Mike Bath, chief of police/director-safety services with the NMU Police Department.
“As the presentations done for the public and the board show, there has been a massive effort to prepare the campus for safe learning, living and working at Northern this fall semester," said NMU President Fritz Erickson. "We don't have a crystal ball to see what the future holds, but for those elements that we can control, we've done an enormous amount of planning, strategizing and putting safety measures in place. We feel we're ready with Plans A, B and C for whatever lies ahead.”
Because of Covid-19, NMU's fall semester will kick off a week earlier—on Aug. 17—and conclude shortly before Thanksgiving.
“President Erickson and his team have done an outstanding job preparing for fall classes,” said Board Chair Steve Mitchell. “Testing of all staff, faculty and students, coupled with tracing and provisions for quarantining, will allow us to open as safely as possible with face-to-face, in-person instruction. Everyone really stepped up to the plate and worked hard to make this happen.”
The board also approved a one-year contract for the NMU Chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), which was previously ratified by the union. The contract freezes faculty salaries for one year and gives the university administration the ability to impose one furlough day each month, if necessary, according to an earlier press release by AAUP President Dwight Brady. It also calls for reductions to overload pay and compensation for teaching summer courses.
In the release, Brady stated that the contract “meets our primary objective of shared sacrifice in short-term concessions, while minimizing long-term harm to our members.”
In other action at today's meeting, the board:
- Approved an ad hoc committee recommendation to recognize Indigenous Peoples Day and promote relevant programming on the second Monday of October each year.
-Approved revisions to the interim relationship violence, sexual misconduct and stalking policy (formerly called the sexual misconduct policy) in advance of the U.S. Department of Education regulations that go into effect Aug. 14. An ad hoc committee chaired by Trustee Alexis Hart will continue to review and clarify the recently released USDE regulations pertaining to these topics.
-Approved revisions to the NMU Student Handbook, which is routinely reviewed every two years.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the NMU Board of Trustees will be held Thursday, Sept. 24-Friday, Sept. 25.