MINNEAPOLIS — Days after a vaccination and testing mandate for indoor dining, drinking ad events made a splash through Minneapolis and St. Paul, the University of Minnesota (U of M) announced a similar mandate for on-campus events for the next few weeks.
The temporary policy comes as thousands of students, mostly fully vaccinated, return to in-person learning throughout the U of M's state campus system.
The U of M says any indoor event system-wide that hosts more than 200 people will require proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative PCR test within the last 72 hours. That includes all sporting events, theater and musical performances, and private gatherings, among others.
The new mandate starts on Jan. 26 and expires Feb. 9.
For campus community members, a UCard works fine as proof of vaccination, according to the university. For off-campus visitors, proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test must be shown. Test documentation must be a lab result from a third-party PCR or antigen test. The U of M told KARE 11 that at-home rapid test results will not be accepted.
The policy does not include dining halls or normal academic instruction, since there is already a mandate requiring vaccinations for for students and staff.
"This temporary approach to public gathering spaces is another step, at a critical moment, that will hopefully reduce stress on our overtaxed healthcare system and yield benefits for us all," wrote University President Joan Gabel.
Other individual guidance may come from specific venue locations, and you can check out more information through this link.
The U of M is also preparing for the return of thousands of students to in-person learning by issuing a plea for the campus community to get booster shots.
Currently a booster is only a recommendation, but the university said an extra shot will help with immunity throughout campus. Students and faculty who wish to get boosted on campus can click the link here to find an appointment.
In her statement Gabel references the impact of the omicron variant, and recent data backs her up. The U of M is starting off the semester with a high case count among students and staff. For the week ending on January 13, 253 campus community members reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 through the on-campus health provider, Boynton Health.
This is a 23% positivity rate out of 1,093 tests. One week before the campus positivity rate was 20%.
The true number of positive tests coming from U of M students and staff is most likely undercounted on the dashboard, since it only displays positive tests from Boynton Health.
Tallen Johnson, a sophomore at the U of M, said he’s happy school is starting in-person.
“I believe there is basically no circumstance, unless omicron infects a large number of faculty and students at one time, I don’t see a future in which the university were to close.”
Johnson added that online course accommodations can help those who are at high risk for COVID, and thinks an individual approach would best fit the university.
“I think they are headed in the right direction as long as the university provides faculty and students with the resources they need to attend class safely."
Classes for U of M Twin Cities start Jan. 18.
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