3 Winona higher ed schools underscore COVID-19 precautions

Institutions cite protocols as state reports increase in 18-24 age range
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WINONA, Minn. (WKBT) — The Minnesota Department of Health’s report of an increase of COVID-19 cases in the 18-24 age range in Winona County has prompted the county’s three higher education institutions to affirm that they are following the department’s safety guidelines.
School officials insist that they have instituted many precautions in accordance with the department’s “Higher Education Guidance for Returning to Campus” to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 on campuses.
They also have systems in place to identify and respond quickly to any positive case, the officials said.
“We are taking extensive precautions to ensure that our on-campus environment is as safe as possible, with requirements around mask wearing, physical distancing and the use of a Daily Self-Assessment to track symptoms and exposure,” said Winona State University President Scott Olson.
WSU also is working to educate students about expectations for their behavior both on-and off-campus and partnering with local public health, government, businesses and law enforcement to help mitigate risk, Olson said.
At Saint Mary’s University, general counsel Ann Merchlewitz said the school has initiated many protocols to mitigate against spreading the virus.
“From what we’re seeing, a majority of our students have been actively following our safety COVID-19 protocols,” Merchlewitz said.
“When we hear of students who are engaging in unsafe behavior, we are addressing these students directly and taking the necessary steps to keep the community safe and keep its classes on-ground instead of online,” she said.
Minnesota State College Southeast has had students on campus safely since July,” said interim President Larry Lundblad. “We want to keep our campuses open for fall semester, so we need everyone’s help — students, faculty, and staff — to make it possible.”
“Taking the college’s daily COVID-19 self-assessment, wearing masks, and following Department of Health guidelines will help keep our students and our community safe,” Lundblad said.