Dear LSSU Alums:
The Fall 2020 semester has entered the final stretch as we push to the holiday break. Much of the last eight months has been dominated by the Covid-19 global pandemic. The pandemic is continuing and by many measures growing in severity across the nation. As I write this update, LSSU has had among the fewest number of Covid-19 cases of any university in Michigan, and the small number of cases we have experienced have all recovered successfully. Our approach to the pandemic and keeping our students and staff safe is serving as a model for institutions throughout the state.
We have done many things and instituted policies that have helped us confront the pandemic. First of all, the university is committed to responding as quickly and thoroughly as possible when notified of a positive COVID-19 case. The LSSU Health Care Center has an Abbott ID NOW analyzer that enables rapid COVID-19 testing, delivering results in 15 minutes or less. The test type is PCR and is known to be highly sensitive and highly specific when testing for COVID-19. The Chippewa County Health Department has also been a critical partner with whom we have collaborated closely in the University’s response to Covid-19. Students who test positive are isolated in Brown Hall, which has been configured exclusively for that purpose.
For students and faculty members this fall, the scheduling of classes looked familiar, although some locations of the classes were different. The Administration and Academic Deans conducted a room-by-room assessment of all available learning spaces to determine maximum capacities that adhere to social distancing guidelines. These assessments resulted in moving some sections to different locations, including some non-traditional learning spaces (e.g., Lake Rooms of the Cisler Center and the Arts Center). In some locations, plexiglass shields were installed for the protection of students and faculty members. Most laboratories are also operating at approximately 50% capacity to accommodate social distancing guidelines, and about 85% of our course catalogue is being taught via face-to-face instruction.
I am often asked about Laker Athletics. Athletic competitions and games are set to kick off around Thanksgiving, with most seasons beginning in January. We are working with health officials to determine how many fans will be able to attend the games, but I am confident that we will have our fans back on campus sooner than later.
As we approach the end of the semester and the holiday break, I want to thank our entire university community for their commitment to the Four Pillars of Laker Safety and the impact it has had in the preparation and execution of our Return to Campus Plan. I want to give a special thanks to the faculty members who are dedicated to delivering classes in-person. I also want to thank those instructors who have adapted to the virtual and hybrid environments to meet the needs brought on by this pandemic. I also thank the staff members who help ensure the safety and well-being of campus: our custodial and facilities staff who maintain our buildings; our dining service staff who provide food each day; and our live-in professional and student staff. The dedication of these employees has made it possible for us to serve the next generations of Lakers during this challenging time. I am grateful to them all.
Though there is much to be commended, we are far from finished. We still have few weeks left in the semester and we know that our landscape can change rapidly, so our successes to-date should not be interpreted as complacency. As we enter cold and flu season, we must all continue to be vigilant and all the more attentive to ensuring our respective compliance with the Four Pillars of Laker Safety – maintain social distance, wear mask/ face covering, enhance sanitization, and take personal/ social responsibility. It is especially important to highlight the importance of wearing a mask or face covering over your mouth and nose. The mask or face covering, by all indications, may be the most effective way to mitigate spread of COVID-19. As the weather cools, people will likely spend more time indoors, so protect yourselves by wearing your mask or face covering whenever indoors and also when outside and unable to maintain six feet of social distance.
We are in the middle of the most disruptive time in the history of higher education in the country. The way that our students, faculty and staff have courageously confronted this difficult time has been truly inspiring. At the university, we will continue to dedicate ourselves to our mission with the grace, dignity and grit that you would expect from Lakers. As always, we appreciate your support of Lake Superior State University! Thank you.
Superior Education. Superior Experience. Superior YOU!
Stay safe and best regards,
Dr. Rodney S. Hanley, President