February 24, 2021 Parent Town Hall FAQ

What are your COVID testing plans for students on campus and what is the recent COVID positivity rate on campus?

MICA’s Surveillance Testing Program is intended for asymptomatic students and other community members.  All residential students and others who physically access campus at least 1x/week are required to present for weekly testing. For students who have symptoms, they can be tested as needed through MICA’s Student Health Center.

We have six (6) weeks of data thus far and for the week ending March 5, 2021, the 7-day positivity rate was 0.24%.  As a reference, the positivity rate was 0.00% the week before, and 0.26% the week before that.

How quick are COVID test results given to students & do you notify if positive & negative? 

For the surveillance testing program for asymptomatic students, test results turnaround time is 48 hrs. Students who are symptomatic have access to rapid test results which are available  within 30 mins or so.

All positive student cases are contacted directly by phone from SHC staff. Negative results are not currently communicated with the understanding that one is negative if you do not get a phone call from SHC. However, we hope to have the MG Scanner App (used to register test samples) fully operational within the next week, which will allow users to log into their patient portal and access their own test results.

Positive students are immediately isolated and identified close contacts are quarantined in  on-campus housing (for those residing on campus).

What is the procedure at the moment in terms of preventing the spread of COVID?

MICA has implemented a broad set of health and safety protocols:highly de-densified campus, mandatory masks, weekly testing of all asymptomatic individuals, hand sanitizer stations across campus, temperature testing scanners at the entrance of every building, disinfectant wipes, limit of one student per apartment in residence halls, quarantine space for exposed individuals, isolation space for students who test positive.

How will you hold the student community accountable for COVID safe practices given the news stories of large campus gatherings?

MICA is fortunately a different institution in both type and community than many of the campuses where these reports have emerged from. While this does not inoculate us from such events, they are outside of our cultural norm. That being said, we are prepared to respond to such an event if it were to happen. Our community is continually reinforced regarding the campus expectations and the need to be vigilant about health and safety. In addition to our normal vehicles, such as Campus Safety, for monitoring behavior we have also launched an online form where any individual can report a possible concern. Our teams are prepared to engage in education and progressive discipline with any student, faculty, or staff member who violates our expectations, and should behavior be concerning enough we will limit or remove the ability for an individual to access the physical campus.

Will students need to be vaccinated to return? (in the fall) 

No, students will not need to be vaccinated to return in the Fall.  Given current vaccine availability and the lower prioritization of healthy young adults, it’s unlikely all students will have access to the vaccine by the Fall. 

Do international students need to quarantine when they come to the US? 

International students need to test immediately upon arrival to campus followed by quarantine  (current CDC guideline for international travel quarantine is 7 days).  

What are MICA’s plans for the Fall?

We will be in a revised and expanded Operational Mode 4, which means we are planning a return to in-person instruction, with some hybrid classes, and will have students in the residence halls at nearly full capacity. Students will have access to all shops and studios, and we anticipate a curriculum with minor modifications to the use of physical space.

What are the summer options for classes?

MICA will be running primarily online summer course offerings as the college will likely be in Operational Mode 3. The course options will be posted by mid-March as we are in the process of evaluating data from a survey recently sent about enrollment preferences.

Will you still offer the option of pass/fail if a class is running virtually?

We have not finalized our policy toward pass/fail for the Fall. Prior to the pandemic, we did not offer this option for our classes.  If we do offer this option, it will be across the entire undergraduate curriculum and will not be for just online courses.  

What are you doing to help prevent zoom fatigue?

Faculty have been advised to limit Zoom experiences to 2-3 hours; faculty have been encouraged to vary their modalities of engagement to incorporate small group work, individual work, synchronous experiences on Zoom, asynchronous learning on Canvas, as well as other types of learning activities.

Will students on campus now have any in-person learning opportunities? Are there efforts being made or planned for some type of “freshman experience” for the students there now?

MICA is in Operational Mode 3 and classes are primarily online for the spring term.  There are a handful of courses that will provide first year students with in-person learning opportunities.  

Will seniors have access to Studio Space?

Seniors in majors that typically have studio space assigned can contact their chair to make arrangements to utilize studio space.

Are professors having regular “office hours” for students for one-on-one support? 

Per the MICA Faculty Handbook, all professors need to maintain office hours for individual student support.  Office hours are required to be printed in syllabus; contact faculty individually with questions.  

What help can you give to students who are looking for OPT?

The Office of International Education (OIE) does several things to support students applying for OPT.

  1. OIE provides a webinar for students interested in learning more about OPT or who will want to apply for it that semester (we recorded it and can make this available to any student who missed the workshop done a few weeks ago).
  2. We then provide a follow-up webinar solely to answer questions about the OPT process.
  3. Students who are applying for OPT can request a virtual OPT PreCheck. This is where an advisor goes over all the requirements, answers any questions, and if the student has the forms already filled out, can check them over.
  4. Provide a Final OPT appointment. This is where the student and the advisor check over all the materials for sending in the application to ensure everything is done correctly. After that appointment, the advisor will make the new I-20 and send it to the student who needs this last item to include in the OPT application.
  5. Then once the application has been sent, if the student has any questions, they can contact one of our advisors. 

If you are graduating in Spring 2021 and applying for OPT, below are some suggestions and important deadlines as you prepare your OPT application. Attached you will find the OPT Student Request form and OPT Application Packet, which includes the presentation given during the workshop. A recording of the OPT Workshop will be available to everyone soon. 

More information on OPT can be found here.

What are the on-campus housing arrangements during this term and in the fall?

Per the guidance of our epidemiologists, MICA anticipates that all residential facilities will be up and running in Fall 2021, with the only significant alteration to our traditional housing being that all bedrooms will be used as singles (i.e. all bedrooms will house one student). MICA will additionally be maintaining a supply of quarantine and isolation spaces in case they are needed.

When do you anticipate that students would need to sign up for fall housing and will they be able to select roommates? Which years (first, sophomore, juniors) do you think may have access to on campus housing?

Housing applications for Fall 2021 will be available in mid-March. The Office of Residence Life will be sending information out directly to students in early March. All enrolled students will be eligible to apply for on-campus housing. Questions about the housing application process can be directed to residencelife@mica.edu.

How will student housing be appropriated/earmarked? Will third year students have fair access to student housing?

All students enrolled for Fall 2021 will be eligible to apply for on-campus housing. Consistent with our traditional practices for undergraduate students, MICA will ensure that space is available to accommodate all Fall ‘21 first year and sophomore students, with remaining spaces made available to Juniors and Seniors. 

Do you have any off-campus housing set up for juniors/seniors?

MICA does not formally oversee off-campus housing but does maintain a suite of helpful information for those living on campus.

Will the large items that students had to leave in their dorm rooms last March be available when they return to campus (hopefully next fall)? 

Yes! MICA has maintained the items that were left behind in Spring 2020, and we will work with students to reclaim their possessions as they return to campus.

Is there going to be a graduation ceremony at the end of this semester?

Graduation for the Class of 2021 will be on Saturday, May 22, 2021. The Commencement ceremony and related thesis exhibitions (ArtWalk and Grad Show) will be held virtually. A multi-constituent group, which includes multiple members of the Class of 2021, is already working to plan these events and ensure that they appropriately celebrate our graduates!

What “social” opportunities (be it “virtual” or in-person) are there this semester for on-campus students?

The Office of Residence Life, the Center for Student Engagement, Student Wellness, Career Development, and many other offices have been providing consistent virtual programming since the beginning of this semester. Given the consistent low presence of COVID-19 on-campus, and as the weather begins to improve for spring, these offices are beginning to plan and host limited in-person events as well. These in-person events will be planned carefully in order to minimize the public health risk, and will include mask requirements and appropriate social distancing. Nearly all of these events are available to both on- and off-campus students.

Can packages be sent to the mailroom?

Yes, packages for any students, including those living off-campus, can be sent to MICA’s Postal and Print office.

What opportunities are there for use of studio space on campus?

Seniors and graduate level students have been provided access to studio spaces. Students living on-campus have access to a large open studio space in Leake Hall that operates via appointment and with appropriate capacity / social distancing limitations. Questions about the Leake Hall studio can be directed to residencelife@mica.edu.

What is being planned to prevent burnout?

MICA students have requested flexibility with attendance and with grading; the school shifted to empower students to select pass or fail grades versus letter grades for both the fall and the spring semesters this year.  

MICA faculty have access to two key documents for course planning to support students during this complex time.

Additionally, MICA faculty have access to numerous professional development opportunities to share ideas about how to best support students in this complex time.  Our Center for Teaching Innovation & Exchange offered workshops such as Trauma-Informed Pedagogy as well as “Lesson Learned Pecha Kucha.”