Mitchell Hamline School of Law administrators have announced all faculty, staff, and students must be fully vaccinated to be on campus for fall semester, effective Aug. 1. The email also noted plans for summer and fall classes, which will include some in-person classes this summer but more in-person offerings in the fall, subject to COVID recommendations. Here is the full text of the email that was sent May 14 to Mitchell Hamline faculty, staff, and students:
Dear members of the Mitchell Hamline community:
In two weeks, we begin our summer semester, which will include some in-person classes, and we are planning to release our schedule for fall semester sometime [during the week of Aug. 17-21].. For fall, we are planning to offer nearly all of our traditionally in-person classes on campus, subject of course to prevailing COVID-19 health recommendations. We believe we are on a path to resuming normal operations.
But for that to happen in the quickest and safest way, it is absolutely essential that as many people as possible get vaccinated.
At both the national and state levels, COVID-related restrictions are being loosened significantly based on vaccinations and vaccination rates. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced Thursday that the state is lifting its mask requirement, following CDC guidance, though those who are not vaccinated are still encouraged to wear a mask indoors and everyone is asked to have a face covering in medical settings and on public transportation. Local jurisdictions and organizations will now take the lead on decision-making related to health behaviors for their communities, with continued guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) as conditions change.
Throughout the pandemic, Mitchell Hamline has adopted rules and practices aimed at safeguarding the health of our community and the community at large. That will continue to be our practice in the months ahead. We are reviewing the latest actions by the federal and state governments and considering, with advice from our medical consultant and guidance from MDH, how our health protocols may be modified to best ensure a safe and healthy environment. For now, our current protocols related to masking, distancing, and using the CampusClear app remain in force.
Below is what we know about our plans for summer and fall:
For the summer, we are strongly encouraging all students, faculty, and staff to get vaccinated. We will have a limited number of students taking classes and studying on campus this summer, and we are beginning to open the building for staff and faculty activities.
Beginning August 1 and continuing through fall semester, all students, staff, and faculty (including adjuncts) will be required to be fully vaccinated in order to come on campus. There will be options for those unable to be on campus. Students unable to come to campus will be able to take required courses (and many electives) online or in HyFlex classes and have access to student services, academic support, and other important services. Employees who are not vaccinated can arrange a remote work plan with their manager. Visitors who have not been vaccinated may be allowed on campus, but guidelines for this are being developed. The library will continue to offer remote access to its catalog, databases, and research materials as well as research librarian services by email, chat, or Zoom. For circulating books and other materials, curbside pickup or mailing services will continue to be offered.
More information will be forthcoming about how people will document that they have been vaccinated. Based on the latest information from the state, we anticipate we will not require masks on campus for fall semester but may reduce room and space capacities to avoid crowding.
We do not yet know what the plan will be for J-term or spring semester. This will depend in large part on MDH guidelines and ABA requirements, as well as the public health data and our experience in the fall. It is also quite possible that the state of Minnesota will have made the COVID-19 vaccine a required immunization for students by spring, the same way vaccinations against measles, rubella, mumps, diphtheria, and tetanus are currently required.
You’ll need to build in time to become fully vaccinated. It takes several weeks with the two-shot vaccines to get fully vaccinated. According to the CDC, the Pfizer vaccine takes full effect two weeks after the second shot, which is three weeks after the first shot. For Moderna, the process from first shot through second to full protection takes 6 weeks. That means if you are using a two-shot vaccine, you will need to get your first shot by mid-June to be able to come back to campus in early August. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a single shot, and full effectiveness takes two weeks.
Vaccination is our best path to returning to normal. We have started factoring vaccination rates in Hennepin and Ramsey counties into the calculation of our campus alert level. We are currently at Level 2, which allows some in-person classes and gatherings. At Level 1, restrictions are reduced even further. The more of us who get vaccinated, the faster we can ratchet down our alert levels and return to normal operations. And people who are fully vaccinated are able to safely enjoy more activities than those who are not, according to CDC guidance.
Getting vaccinated. Everyone age 12 and older is now eligible for a vaccine. Information on vaccine availability in Minnesota can be found here, and the CDC has also provided a national resource for how to find a vaccine in all other states. Staff and faculty can use “COVID pay” for time traveling to and from the vaccination site and for any time required to recover from side effects, both for the employee and anyone they are caring for. This means employees do not have to use their PTO to make time to get themselves and those close to them vaccinated. Please direct any questions to Api Sulistyo in Human Resources. Students who have concerns about coursework or final exams due to vaccine appointments or managing side effects from the vaccine should contact Dean LeMoine for assistance.
Mitchell Hamline is planning to host a vaccination site on campus. We will offer the two-shot Moderna vaccine, with the first shot in June and the second in July. This vaccination clinic will be held outdoors and will be open to members of our law school community as well as the community at large. Details on the dates and registration information will be announced soon.
We look forward to returning to campus in the next few months, but we need to do this in the safest way possible. Getting vaccinated along with adhering to the school’s health protocols will help the Mitchell Hamline community reach this goal that much sooner.
Anthony Niedwiecki, President and Dean
Lynn LeMoine, Dean of Students
Jim Hilbert, Vice Dean, Academic and Faculty Affairs
Chris Szaj, Vice President of Institutional Management and COVID-19 Team Coordinator