Aug. 9 message from Provost Link

Dear Colleagues,

As we prepare for the fall semester, the health and safety of the entire UND community remains a top priority. The UND Pandemic Team continues to meet to help monitor COVID-19. The good news is, unlike previous semesters, we now have effective vaccines that have been proven to provide protection against the COVID-19 virus. Widespread vaccination across the UND community is the single best step we can take to protect ourselves and our colleagues across the campus and community.

Currently, UND does not require vaccinations or face coverings on campus for faculty, staff, or students.  However, we strongly encourage individuals who are not fully vaccinated to wear face coverings. When local transmission levels are substantial or high, the campus will follow CDC guidelines and encourage vaccinated persons to wear masks indoors in public. Grand Forks County currently reports a substantial transmission level.

Individual faculty may, at their discretion, choose to require face coverings in their classrooms.  Should a faculty member wish to do so, this requirement should be communicated clearly to students both on the course syllabus, and as an announcement on the course’s Blackboard site, using the following statement:

In this course, students are expected to wear face coverings while in the classroom and/or laboratory. Students electing not to comply with these expectations will not be permitted to enter the room.  UND strongly encourages all members of the University community, including students, to get vaccinated and model positive behavior both on- and off-campus in order to foster a healthy and safe learning environment for all students.  Individuals who would like to discuss disability accommodations regarding face coverings should contact the Disability Services for Students (DSS) office at 701-777-2664 or UND.dss@UND.edu. Individuals who are unable to wear a face covering due to a sincerely held religious belief should contact the UND Equal Opportunity and Title IX Office at 701.777.4171 or UND.EO.TitleIX@UND.edu.

 The inclusion of this announcement on the syllabus and on the Blackboard site will help ensure that students are aware of the classroom protocols, will encourage consistency in application, and will also help provide the necessary framework for enforcement of the classroom expectation. Please note that there are certain designated areas on campus—such as in the SMHS, in certain clinics, and within zones in the JDOSAS subject to TSA regulation—where face coverings must be worn at all times.

Across academic affairs, staff who wish to require the use of face coverings in their specific units on campus should work with their supervisors to establish their area’s boundaries and then include the following statement at entry points:

Students and other visitors to [NAME OF UNIT] are asked to wear face coverings. If you do not have a mask or do not wish to wear one, please contact us by phone [PROVIDE PHONE NUMBER] or email at [EMAIL ADDRESS] and someone in the office will assist you. 

If your unit also provides services through a virtual lobby, you might consider modifying the message above to include directions about how to access that virtual lobby space.

UND Marketing & Communications has made a number of templates available for downloading and use, including a downloadable sign that asks individuals to “please wear a face covering before entering this space”: https://campus.und.edu/brand/_files/docs/pandemic-officefacecovering-2020-6×4-v2.pdf

More information regarding the pandemic and UND’s efforts to create a COVID-19 resilient campus is available on the UND COVID-19 site: https://und.edu/covid-19/

As we look forward to the fall semester, continued flexibility and grace will be essential.  If you feel sick, stay home and get well.  If a student falls ill, please extend the opportunity, through reasonable adjustments, to keep up—or catch up—with assignments.  Let’s care for each other, keep our community healthy and dynamic, and help our students succeed.

With best wishes for a great, safe, and healthy fall semester,

Eric Link
Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs