Minneapolis Responds to Omicron with Precautions

Olivia Allery, news editor

Photo of 19th Avenue South in Minneapolis on July 30th 2005, taken by Michael Hicks and obtained from Creative Commons.

Last week, Minneapolis put in place updated mandates in the midst of the Omicron surge of COVID-19. One of these being that all restaurants, bars and event spaces serving food and drink require proof of vaccination or proof of a negative test within 72 hours from every individual before they enter the establishment. 

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter decided to have both cities follow this new mandate in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19 in public spaces and prevent businesses’ from closing down. This decision was made on Jan. 12 and went into effect Jan. 19. 

“Augsburg appreciates the new measures put in place by the city of Minneapolis and hopes they contribute to reducing transmission of COVID-19 in our surrounding community,” says Stephen Jendraszak, Associate Vice President of Marketing and Communication at Augsburg to the Echo. “We are not currently hosting events open to the general public on campus that include food and beverage availability, but if that were to change, we would be mindful of the requirements in place at that time.”

The first day of this new mandate has had no report of restaurants not following the mandate. However, there have been some initial concerns from restaurant staff in regards to customer reactions to the new mandate. Many staff hope that people will view this as a health measure rather than a political action according to StarTribune.

Simultaneously, on Friday Jan. 14, Minneapolis Public Schools announced that they would be doing virtual learning until Jan. 31. This choice to go virtual was mainly due to about 400 staff call-ins between Jan. 11- 12 in regards to being out of school due to Covid. The school district did not have enough substitute staff to cover the amount out sick so school district officials decided to move learning online. 

“The university is not directly impacted by the decision of Minneapolis Public Schools to switch to remote learning, but we are aware that many faculty, staff, and students are impacted by the decisions of MPS and other school districts,” says Stephen Jendraszak when asked how Augsburg will be affected with MPS going virtual. “Supervisors have been asked to work with each employee individually on arrangements that are appropriate to their position and circumstances during this time. The academic deans, likewise, will work with faculty on arrangements appropriate to their classes and student needs.” Jendraszak continues

Teacher unions in the MPS were not so fond of the abrupt transition to online learning. The decision made by school district officials had no input from teacher unions for the implementation planning for the transition to online learning. “This new online plan was not co-created with those who will be implementing it,” says Greta Callahan, president of the Teachers Chapter of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers in a quote from Star Tribune.

“With the recent increase in COVID-19 cases due to the Omicron variant, it is critical to continue to adjust and improve mitigation efforts that will protect the health and safety of everyone.” says Lauren Radomski, Augsburg Staff Union COVID-19 Task Force representative in a quote to the Echo. “It is essential that we stay diligent in stopping the spread, which means being adaptable to not only protect ourselves but the people around us.”