MLC President Rich Gurgel provides an overview and rationale related to the health and safety protocols for the start of our new school year.
Greetings, Knight Nation! Your MLC family is very, very eager to see you on campus!
We have been hearing concerns from some of you for what it may mean on our MLC campus as our country feels the impact of a rise in COVID cases due to the Delta variant. You may even have heard that many colleges and universities, such as the entire University of Minnesota system, will be requiring masks as this fall semester begins.
Allow me to say it very simply! We have not changed our plans at MLC to be an open campus this school year and to leave masking and social distancing protocols behind.
Why the change from last year? Last year we sought to honor our governor’s mandate, protect those most vulnerable in our campus family, as well as respect the welfare and concerns of a host community with a significant senior population. In addition, vaccines had not been approved during the first semester and didn’t become readily available until the end of our second semester.
All of those key factors have changed. There is no governor’s mandate at present in Minnesota, and no indication that one is being planned. Our faculty and staff vaccination rate stands at over 84%. And the vaccination rate for those 65 or older in Brown County is 98%. Many of you, our students, have also been vaccinated, including those with underly health challenges that make them especially vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus. Also consider this: in the state of Minnesota less than 3,500 documented cases of COVID have been reported among more than 3 million vaccinated. That’s a .1% breakthrough rate. Hospitalization from severe cases of COVID 19 among those vaccinated stands at only 1 in 10,000, and the death rate among vaccinated people is less than 2 in 100,000.
All of that has convinced us of this! The good that will be gained by you, our students, as you enjoy as normal of life on campus as possible, far, far outweighs any current risks to our campus family. We say that knowing that we all rest, in the last analysis, in the nail -marked hands of our Savior. We are far more than numbers and statistics to him.
The protocols that will be in place will be very few: the US Department of Transportation has not changed their masking requirement on public transportation (which includes our chartered buses for athletic teams or musical ensembles). Allina Health Care, which staffs our training room, has a mask mandate which will apply to all who enter the training room. There will also be quarantine for unvaccinated students, staff or faculty who are in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID 19. And, finally, just as would with any contagious illness, those who test positive for COVID 19 will be isolation until they have recovered.
Other than that, we thank God that we are anticipating that life on and off campus will resemble a regular school year. I know many of you, in particular, are glad for the return of open dorms! I am most looking forward to seeing our whole campus family all together at one time in Chapel of the Christ as we gather for daily worship! We thank God for these and all such restorations of what it means to be a campus family on this hill! Most importantly, we know how all of this can contribute to your preparation for gospel ministry!
See you soon, Knights!