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Latest on Covid-19 and campus operations

Important reminders from COO Larry Sampler on vaccine approval and verifications, reporting positive cases and more.

By Larry Sampler, chief operating officer

August 26, 2021

Larry SamplerDear Roadrunners,

Happy day No. 4 of the fall semester and Metropolitan State University of Denver’s full return to on-campus operations. So many Roadrunners and members of the Auraria Campus community have worked for months to make this milestone possible. As President Janine Davidson, Ph.D., shared in Wednesday’s meeting of the President’s Cabinet, there are countless people to thank, from our partners at the Auraria Higher Education Center to our dedicated janitorial staff to nearly every MSU Denver employee. While I don’t have space to applaud each of you by name, I see your efforts and contributions and am deeply grateful. On behalf of the MSU Denver senior leadership team, thank you.

FDA approves Pfizer vaccine

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave its full approval this week to the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for use in people ages 16 years and older. In its announcement, the FDA noted:

“The FDA’s approval of this vaccine is a milestone as we continue to battle the Covid-19 pandemic. While this and other vaccines have met the FDA’s rigorous, scientific standards for emergency-use authorization, as the first FDA-approved Covid-19 vaccine, the public can be very confident that this vaccine meets the high standards for safety, effectiveness and manufacturing quality (that) the FDA requires of an approved product.”

This is a significant step forward. The Pfizer vaccine has for months been available to Roadrunners and community members at our on-campus vaccination sites, and I hope that anyone who has remained hesitant to become vaccinated will find extra peace of mind in this announcement and get their shots as soon as possible. Additionally, it was announced Wednesday that Moderna has completed its submission for full FDA approval, meaning Roadrunners could soon have access to two safe, effective and fully approved vaccines.

Vaccine-verification reminder

Employees: If you have not yet submitted verification of your Covid-19 inoculation, please do so ASAP and remind your teams and colleagues to do so as well. The deadline for employees to submit was Monday. Currently, 60% of employees (including faculty members, administrators, classified and student employees but not including affiliate faculty members) have provided their proof of vaccination.

Note: Student vaccine verification is primarily being done through data matching with the state’s immunization system and the vaccine requirement is only applicable for those enrolled in in-person learning. As such, vaccinated students do NOT need to take action unless they are both enrolled in in-person classes and were vaccinated outside of Colorado, through the VA/military and/or do not appear in the Colorado immunization database and were directed to upload by the Dean of Students Office. 

All unvaccinated MSU Denver students and employees on campus must comply with additional testing measures to help safeguard the health of the campus community. Information regarding the testing process will come via individualized email from a email address.

Reporting positive cases and masking-compliance info

MSU Denver requires masking indoors for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals per the following:

  • Masks should cover both the nose and mouth; bandanas and gators are not permitted.
  • Face shields will be permitted as an alternative face covering, only with appropriate medical documentation from a licensed physician.
  • Masks are not required outdoors but may be advised in large group settings.
  • Students in the classroom must wear masks at all times.
  • Outside of the classroom, vaccinated individuals may remove masks indoors only when 6 feet away from other individuals (ex. a professor teaching 6 feet from students; in an office cubicle with a minimum of 6 feet of distance to others; or when in a private office – with or without the door open).
  • All Individuals may briefly unmask when actively eating or drinking; however, when indoors unvaccinated individuals should find a location away from others to eat.

As previously shared, all faculty and staff members should call the Health Center at Auraria (303-615-9999) and inform your supervisor immediately of any positive case, regardless of testing or exposure location. New FAQs are also available to help members of the campus community understand important Covid-19 reporting and health protocols.

As a reminder, all individuals on campus, including visitors, are expected to wear a face covering while indoors and to perform a daily health self-assessment prior to arrival. If you are feeling sick, do not come to campus.

Safe Return to Campus webpage

Don’t forget there’s a plethora of resources available on the Safe Return Faculty Staff Guide, including guidelines around student mask noncompliance and more. For any questions not addressed on the website, please contact

Thank you again for your hard work in supporting our safe return to campus and cheers to a great first week and a successful fall semester.


Larry Sampler
Vice president for Administration, Finance and Facilities and chief operating officer

Topics: Administration, Health, Health Center at Auraria, Safety

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