Beginning May 2, masks will be optional on all U-M campuses during class time and while on U-M buses. Masks remain required in Ann Arbor campus patient care areas and on-campus COVID-19 testing sites.
We remain vigilant in our efforts to have the proper safety measures to protect the community from an outbreak of COVID-19. We all need to stay in accordance with our new practices in Dana and be sure to also follow all University and CDC guidelines for being in public space.
Any member of our community can submit questions to the SEAS Leadership (Dean Overpeck, Associate Dean Zint, Associate Dean Currie, Assistant Dean Elliott, and functional area leads) team using this form. This will help us identify issues that need to be addressed within the school.
Maize & Blueprint resources
Dana Building Safety Guidelines
COVID Guidelines for Winter 2022
(Updated March 2022)
Based on the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), State of Michigan, and University of Michigan (U-M) guidelines, we have updated the access and use policies for the Dana Building. The revised guidelines described below are updated for the Winter 2022 semester beginning March 14th, 2022 following the University’s updated policy regarding wearing masks. We anticipate that these guidelines may be further modified as U-M or State of Michigan COVID regulations are adjusted to address the changing conditions as we transition into the recovery stage of the pandemic. These guidelines incorporate new protocols provided by the U-M administration to date, and incorporate feedback from students, faculty, and staff, and have been approved by the Dean and SEAS leadership. This policy may be regularly adjusted to remain consistent with changing circumstances as a result of the ongoing pandemic.
- Training. All faculty and staff are expected to complete the University’s COVID training module EHS_OHS_COVIDw COVID-19: Working Safely at U-M that can be found in Wolverine Access My LINC, under the EHS training library.
Everyone is still required to successfully complete the ResponsiBLUE daily health screening each day before entering Dana, regardless of vaccination status. All employees should be reminded that they are required to stay home if they are feeling sick or if at work, they should coordinate with their supervisors if they begin to feel unwell.
- Students whose answers produce the red indicator should follow the instructions provided by the health screener and also report to their class instructors that they will be absent.
- Staff whose answers produce a red indicator should also follow instructions provided by the health screen and also report this to their supervisor.
- Faculty whose answers produce a red indicator should also follow instructions provided by the health screen and also contact the Dean’s Assistant, Sue Koehler.
If you have questions about the screener, please visit ResponsiBLUE FAQ / UM Information and Technology Services.
- Masks are optional in these Dana spaces (Updated April 2022):
- Office spaces (shared and individual), research spaces, and conference rooms
- Common areas such as the first-floor and fourth-floor commons, non-instructional computer labs, kitchens, bathrooms, and elevators
- Instructional labs, including the classroom computer lab and studios
- Social distancing within Dana. (Updated March 2022) Consistent with general practice across the Ann Arbor Campus, the Dana building will not be requiring social distancing starting January 1st, 2022.
- Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face covering when around others. Stay home when you are sick. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Access to the Dana Building. (Updated January 2022) Dana’s building hours beginning January 3rd, 2022 will be such that exterior doors will be unlocked from 7 a.m. - 10 p.m., Monday - Friday to best accommodate classes held in Dana. During the week, the doors will lock from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. and will be locked all day on the weekends and holidays for the winter semester. If you plan to arrive when the building is locked you must remember to bring your Mcard with you to get in. Please do not allow others to follow you into the building when you are swiping in after the building exterior doors are locked.
- Access for guests and visitors not affiliated with the University. (Updated March2022) Guests and visitors are permitted to enter the Dana Building accompanied by a SEAS faculty, staff or students. Guests and visitors are required to complete the ResponsiBLUE Guest screening check before entering Dana or any U-M building. Guests and visitors are also required to follow the U-M Face Covering Policy when on U-M property.
- Sanitizing supplies and extra masks are available. A supply of spare masks are located inside the entrance doors at the East and West stairs if you have forgotten yours or need one. Sanitizing supplies will be maintained by SEAS Facilities. Supplies for classrooms, common areas, and conference rooms will be monitored and replenished as needed. If you notice supplies getting low in one of these spaces, please notify SEAS Facilities by emailing email@example.com. Faculty, staff, and GSIs can also request supplies for an office or office area by completing the COVID safety supply order form. Please plan 1-2 days for delivery to your space. To minimize crowding in the Admin Office (2038 Dana), we ask that you do not stop by Admin Services for supplies; they will be delivered to you as soon as we are able. Please include a note in the form if they are needed immediately.
- In the classroom. Instructors with longer courses (e.g., three-hour courses) should provide breaks so students can step out of the classroom and have a snack or drink. Instructors should be mindful of the students’ need for transitions between courses offered in different modalities (e.g., remote to in-person or vice versa) and provide extra time for transport, bathroom breaks, etc. As a reminder, ending class 10 minutes before the hour is the University’s expectation.
Students should consider their schedules and plan ahead for the time needed to transition between courses that are offered in different modalities (e.g., in-person to remote or vice versa). When possible, students should consider spaces outside of the Dana Building for their remote learning. Rackham also has study spaces available for reservation at https://rackham.umich.edu/covid-19/rackham-study-spaces/. If this is not possible, students can find semi-private spaces in room 4520. Headphones are required when attending a remote class from a common space in Dana. Students who are having difficulty with navigating the transitions between courses should reach out to the SEAS Student Center for support.
It is recommended that students remain in the same seats for the duration of the semester to facilitate contact tracing, if needed. For courses that include small-group work, consider having groups remain consistent over the semester.
- Bathrooms in Dana. (Updated March 2022) All bathrooms are open in Dana with no COVID occupancy limits. There are bathrooms on every floor of the building, if you wish to find a bathroom that is less busy.
- Elevator in Dana. (Updated January 2022) There is no longer a special COVID occupancy limit in the elevator. Please give way to those in most need of the elevator.
- Building Air Exchange. (Updated January 2021) The maintenance staff has shared that there is a general perception that increasing HVAC ventilation air changes and adding or upgrading air filtration may reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. SEAS made upgrades at the start of the Fall 2021 term to increase air exchange in the building.
- Shared Offices. (Updated March2022) Those working in a shared office space should work with their supervisor(s) to reduce density of the work space. Supervisors should look for options to reduce density such as allowing remote work or finding another available space in Dana as a means to stagger on-site work. Staggering on-site and remote schedules are encouraged until the pandemic is over. Positions that require more on-site presence should be accommodated first.
Please continue to be respectful of and caring toward each other as we navigate these changes together. In the spirit of goodwill, please ask others their masking preference when entering their work space, such as faculty and staff offices, or in a small group meeting in a conference room. If they prefer masking, please respect that preference..
- Individual Office Use. (Updated January 2022) There are no specific restrictions for individual use of single-occupant offices. Please continue to be respectful of and caring toward each other as we navigate these changes together. In the spirit of goodwill, please ask others their masking preference when entering their work space, such as faculty and staff offices, or in a small group meeting in a conference room. If they prefer masking, please respect that preference.
- Computer Labs. (Updated January 2022) Sites computing stations are available on the first floor near the east entrance to the commons and third floor room 3313. Single stations are available between the restrooms on the first, second, and third floors. Use of computing stations located in a room should follow policies outlined above for classroom use. Cleaning supplies will also be available and users must clean their workstation touchpoints before and after use.
- Common Spaces. (Updated January 2022) First-floor commons, Fourth-floor commons and room 4520 will be available for use on a first-come, first-serve basis. Sanitizing supplies will be provided nearest the entrances. It’s important that furniture not be moved or removed from this space.
- Mail, shipping, and receiving. (Updated March 2022) All mail and shipment handling will be via delivery as we have been doing this Academic Year. Please refer to the SEAS process for mail, shipping and receiving https://spg.seas.umich.edu/policy/511.
- Meetings/Events. (Updated March 2022) In-person gatherings for an event or a large meeting are permitted. Event size is only limited by the occupant capacity of a space set for fire safety. Events must be organized and hosted by SEAS faculty, staff or students. The event host is responsible for enforcing all rules outlined in this policy. It is expected that all individuals of the U-M community and guests stay home when they are not feeling well (do not attend work, class, gatherings or events). Individuals are expected to continue to use ResponsiBLUE.
- The event host is expected to coordinate hand sanitizer supplies for the event and a log of event attendees (name and contact info) to provide to EHS in the event contract tracing is necessary. Please refer to the Campus Blueprint site for more information on hosting indoor events on campus.
Regular SEAS employees can schedule an event following SEAS' room scheduling policy. Only students who are actively enrolled in a SEAS (including PitE) program are permitted to schedule events/meetings in Dana classrooms and must have a faculty or staff sponsor, who schedules the room on the student’s behalf. Also, students are able to contact the Library, Rackham, or the Union to find space for larger student group activities. Visit https://campusinvolvement.umich.edu/ideahub/rooms for additional information. There are a number of common spaces for students to use in Dana for studying or group work. These spaces are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Guests not affiliated with the University are permitted to attend the event in person. Serving food at at events in Dana is permitted at this time.
- Eating in Dana. (Updated March 2022) Food, including food at events, can be served and eaten in the building wherever masks are optional, including common spaces. Social distancing when eating is preferable, but not required. However, food cannot be served or eaten during class because masks are required. Eating in a classroom while no class is in session is okay.
- Kitchens. (Updated March 2022) The student kitchen (rm 1543), faculty kitchen (rm 2503), staff kitchen (rm 4330), and Student Center (rm 1520F) are open. Other functional area kitchens are open as well. Use the following guidelines for using kitchens in Dana:
- Wash all dishes immediately and place them in drying racks. Dirty dishes left in sinks may be thrown away.
- When you are finished using the kitchen, clean all of the surfaces you used with a disinfecting wipe.
- Everyone is expected to do some additional cleaning such as wiping down surfaces of shared appliances in kitchens.
- Drinking fountains and water bottle refill stations. All drinking fountains and water bottle refill stations are open. Sanitizing supplies are available at each station. Please clean the station before and after use.
- Building Cleaning. Custodial services will continue with cleaning frequency of high-touch surfaces in common spaces to meet current CDC guidelines.
Evening custodial services will clean Sunday to Thursday, 6 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. the following morning. The evening shift cleans common spaces and classrooms daily. They will clean offices weekly on core days. The core day for the ground floor is Sunday and moves up one floor the next day and so on. As always, if your desk is clear of any personal items, they will clean the surface on your core day. Spaces with a lot of personal items or things under or around your desk will be avoided. Kitchens with dishes in the sinks will not be cleaned until the dishes are removed.
Faculty, staff, and students should follow best practices by washing their hands and cleaning equipment before and after use. Faculty, staff, and students are also expected to do some additional cleaning such as wiping down work surfaces, shared equipment in offices, classrooms, and kitchens.
All common spaces are expected to be vacated when custodial services arrive to clean the space. Classrooms will be cleaned after their last class and the room will be considered closed with no use or access until the next morning class.
If you notice bathroom or kitchen cleaning supplies getting low, please notify SEASfirstname.lastname@example.org.
- Lab research. (Updated March 2022) Faculty should continue to ensure that EHS lab safety protocols are followed and to disinfect lab surfaces. Laboratory researchers who have not done so yet are expected to complete the MyLinc training module, COVID-19: Working Safely in U-M Research Labs, before returning to the lab. As always, food and drinks are not permitted in labs.
- Field work. (Updated March 2022) When using University transportation or rentals, all passengers must wear face coverings. The driver does not need face coverings when driving alone. When feasible, windows and vents should be opened to allow for ventilation. Vehicles should be cleaned after each use and have sanitizer readily available.
- Research travel. Researchers must continue to obtain standard financial approvals to receive reimbursement through the business office and that the university continues to expect domestic and international travel to be registered through the UM Travel Registry. SEAS graduate students engaged in international research must also complete an Individual Safety Plan for International Travel and receive approval by the U-M International Travel Oversight Committee.
- Other buildings. SEAS employees and students should follow rules and policies developed for the building they are using. Rules and policies for the Dana Building may be different than those developed for other buildings. Other SEAS managed buildings (400 N Ingalls, 420 Liberty St., Saginaw Forest, Stinchfield Woods, and Newcomb Track) will follow the same guidelines established by this document.
- An employee tested positive for COVID-19 and was in the building. Per EHS guidelines, in the event that an individual who was recently present in a U-M facility tests positive for COVID-19, they are expected to report this outcome to their supervisors who, in turn, are expected to contact EHS for further guidance. EHS protocols are in place to evaluate the situation and determine the need for additional cleaning and disinfection of the worksite per CDC guidance. University of Michigan Occupational Health Services (OHS) has established a COVID-19 hotline at 734-764-8021 (select prompt 1) to manage and triage employees for testing and tracking as required.
- A student tested positive for COVID-19 and was in the building. (Updated January 2022) Anyone with close contact will be notified through contact tracing. Instructors may also learn of a positive COVID case from students before they may hear from U-M officials due to the time this process takes. Instructors and students should refer to university guidance for on-campus students or off-campus students on what to do based on potential COVID-19 scenarios.
- A class instructor tested positive for COVID-19. If an instructor becomes ill or experiences another scenario due to COVID that prohibits them from teaching in-person, the situation should be discussed with Michaela Zint, Associate Dean for Master’s courses, and Shelie Miller, PitE Director for PitE courses. These situations will be handled on a case-by-case basis and, depending on the situation, there may be different solutions--for example, going remote, guest lecturers, etc. Identifying possible backup instructors at the beginning of the semester is recommended.
- Feedback. Your feedback is important to us, and we would appreciate you sharing your thoughts through this form. SEAS Administration will monitor submissions and make updates to our policy as necessary.
- Additional information. For more details and guidance, please see the EHS COVID-19 Guidelines for Campus Facilities. Note that some EHS guidelines are less restrictive than those described in this document. These are cases where SEAS has decided to take a more cautious approach.
- Everyone do your part! (Updated December 2021) If you observe someone not following the rules, try one of these techniques:
- Use a little peer pressure
- Be a role model
- Gently nudge with a smile, but without getting too technical
- Use subtle cues (point out posted signage)
Choose your battles! Please don’t approach someone if you don’t feel comfortable doing so. Instead, report the concern on this form. QR codes to this form can also be found on posters throughout Dana. This form is monitored by SEAS staff who will work to address concerns the best they are able.
Winter 2022 - Instructional video update
A message from Dr. Preeti Malani on what to expect on campus this winter.
COVID Emails from Leadership
April 27, 2022
From Robert D. Ernst, M.D. and Preeti Malani, M.D.
Dear Ann Arbor campus community member,
We are writing to share important changes to COVID-19 policies that apply to all students, faculty and staff on the Ann Arbor campus.
Effective May 2, the following mitigation strategies apply for our campus community:
- Wearing a mask is no longer required on campus in instructional settings during class time or while on U-M buses.
- Masks remain required in patient care areas and at campus COVID-19 testing sites and are optional in all other areas of campus. Masks remain an effective measure for enhanced personal protection against the spread of COVID-19, especially for individuals who have a compromised immune status, who are not up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccinations, or who have an increased risk of contracting COVID-19.
- Michigan Medicine will maintain its current universal masking policy in all facilities where a patient may arrive as part of their care, including for billing or administrative purposes. The Medical School will follow campus guidelines and protocols.
- The campus community is expected to remain up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccinations — completion of primary vaccine series and one booster — as outlined under the vaccination policy.
- Weekly testing of those with an exemption from the vaccination policy is expected.
- Free asymptomatic testing remains available on campus through the Community Sampling and Tracking Program (CSTP).
- Continued use of the daily symptom checker tool, ResponsiBLUE, is expected.
- Continued self-reporting of positive test results from at-home tests to the university is expected.
The two schools — the Law School and the Medical School — that have winter term classes and exams scheduled to meet through early May will maintain the masking requirement during class time through the end of their winter term schedule.
The changes to the face covering policy are consistent with the COVID-19 community level guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which provides a measure of the impact of COVID-19 illness on health and health-care systems in addition to current case activity to help inform decision making for mitigation measures at the local level.
Data on our COVID-19 dashboard show that the number of COVID-19 cases on campus have continued to trend downward in the last two weeks but remain at an elevated level, and that the majority of individuals who sought testing at University Health Service reported mild symptoms. The university’s Campus Health Response Committee will continue to monitor COVID-19 activity in the U-M community and base recommendations on the latest guidance available.
Reminders for the U-M community to reduce the spread of COVID-19 include:
- Get vaccinated against COVID-19, including any additional recommended boosters.
- Get tested after close contact exposures and wear a mask for a full 10 days.
- Stay home, avoid others and get tested for COVID-19 when you are sick or experiencing symptoms.
- Isolate for at least five days and wear a mask around others for a full 10 days if you test positive for COVID-19.
For the latest information and updates related to COVID-19, please visit the Campus Maize and Blueprint at: https://campusblueprint.umich.edu/.
Robert D. Ernst
Associate Vice President of Student Life
Director of Campus COVID Response
U-M Chief Health Officer
March 10, 2022
From: Dean Jonathan Overpeck
Dear SEAS and PitE community,
In light of the university’s new masking policy (see below), I wanted to provide further clarification about how these changes affect us in the Dana Building. Here are the new guidelines:
Masks are optional in these Dana spaces:
Office spaces (shared and individual), research spaces, and conference rooms
Common areas such as the first-floor and fourth-floor commons, non-instructional computer labs, kitchens, bathrooms, and elevators
Masks are required in these Dana spaces:
Instructional labs, including the classroom computer lab
Food, including food at events, can be served and eaten in the building wherever masks are optional, including common spaces. Social distancing when eating is preferable, but not required. However, food cannot be served or eaten in class because masks are required.
As always, our main concern is the health and safety of the SEAS community, so please continue to utilize COVID mitigation measures: Stay home if you are not feeling well, practice good hygiene, get COVID testing as necessary, and continue to use ResponsiBLUE and ResponsiBLUE Guest as a daily symptom checker. Sanitizing supplies and masks will continue to be available for your use.
The new masking policy will require an adjustment period for all of us. For some, not wearing a mask in certain areas will be a welcome relief, while for others the easing of mask restrictions will cause discomfort or anxiety. I ask that you continue to be respectful of and caring toward each other as we navigate these changes together. In the spirit of goodwill, please ask others their masking preference when entering their work space, such as faculty and staff offices, or in a small group meeting in a conference room. If they prefer masking, please respect that preference.
We have much to look forward to as the semester continues, including the arrival of spring and warmer weather. I hope the easing of mask restrictions will provide additional opportunities for those who are comfortable to interact with your fellow SEAS community members. The upcoming SEAS Community Conversation at 11 a.m. on April 11 is a great opportunity to gather, and I hope to see many of you there. The event will be held in the Ford Commons, which means masks are optional.
For more details regarding SEAS’ COVID safety protocols, our Dana Building Guidelines will be updated by March 14 when the new masking policy goes into effect.
From: Robert D. Ernst (Associate Vice President of Student Life and Director of Campus COVID Response) and Preeti Malani (U-M Chief Health Officer)
Dear U-M Ann Arbor Community Member,
As a result of the high vaccination rates among students, faculty and staff as well as improving conditions in the region, the COVID-19 Campus Health Response Committee is issuing new guidance regarding COVID-19 response on the University of Michigan campuses.
Effective March 14, 2022, masking will be optional in most indoor spaces on campus including in offices, residence halls and at athletic events.
Masks will remain required in classrooms and other instructional spaces, patient care areas, campus buses and in campus COVID-19 testing sites at least through the end of the winter term.
The Dearborn and Flint campuses will communicate this policy change directly to their respective campuses.
Mask use still is suggested as an effective strategy for enhanced personal protection, especially for those with compromised immune status, those who are not vaccinated or up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations, and anyone with a perceived increased risk of complications from infection.
Please recognize and respect that some in the community will choose to continue to mask and should be empowered to do so. Please be kind and respectful of these personal choices.
The following additional guidance also is effective beginning March 14, 2022:
The U-M COVID-19 Vaccination Policy remains in effect for the University community.
It is expected that all individuals of the U-M community and guests stay home when they are not feeling well (do not attend work, class, gatherings or events).
Individuals are expected to continue to use ResponsiBLUE and ResponsiBLUE Guest as a daily symptom checker.
In-person gatherings and events may occur and food/drink can be provided. Continued use of ResponsiBLUE and ResponsiBLUE Guest is recommended for these events.
Individuals attending indoor athletic events will no longer need to show proof of vaccination or a negative test.
Spring and Summer programs with non-university individuals that will have on-campus residency will be required to show proof of vaccination or negative test.
Units can plan and implement their event plans at the local level; units are no longer required to submit event plans or summer programs for review by U-M’s Environment, Health & Safety or the Provost’s Office. Please refer to the U-M COVID-19 Guidelines for Campus Facilities for ideas of levels of risk associated with gatherings and events.
The changes are reflective of the latest recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Michigan Department of Human Health Services. As always, we will remain vigilant in monitoring the COVID-19 situation in our community and will revisit these guidelines accordingly.
For the latest information and updates related to COVID-19, please visit the Campus Maize and Blueprint: https://campusblueprint.umich.edu/.
Robert D. Ernst
Associate Vice President of Student Life
Director of Campus COVID Response
U-M Chief Health Officer
January 3, 2022
From: Dean Jonathan Overpeck
Dear SEAS Community,
We hope you had a restful holiday break. Happy New Year! I want to provide you with a recap of the University’s COVID safety protocols for our return to campus in the new year. The new Omicron variant is resulting in an increase in COVID cases across the country, and we must remain vigilant. President Schlissel and Provost Collins have been working closely with public health experts. As they outline in their message below, U-M will be moving forward with in-person learning at this time given very high levels of vaccination, and no established association with COVID-19 transmission in classrooms due to the university’s indoor masking requirement, among other considerations.
Please use the various tools available to protect yourself, those around you, and our community. This includes getting your booster as soon as you are eligible (required for all no later than Feb. 4th), frequent COVID testing, avoiding large indoor gatherings, wearing a mask whenever indoors with others, and isolating if you feel sick or receive a positive test result. Again, see the message from President Schlissel and Provost Collins for more information on these safety precautions.
IMPORTANT: Please read the message below from President Schlissel and Provost Collins carefully and note the new university protocols:
All students living in a campus residence hall must get a COVID-19 test upon arrival through U-M's Community Sampling and Tracking Program.
Students must continue to wear face coverings indoors and on campus transit. In addition, face coverings are required in the common areas of residence halls and in Recreational Sports facilities.
Starting Jan. 1, 2022, everyone attending ticketed events, including on-campus performances and Athletics events, must show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours. More details can be found here. For the U-M community, vaccination verification can be done through the ResponsiBLUE app.
U-M is strongly encouraging all students, faculty and staff, regardless of vaccination status, to get tested if they have traveled over the winter break.
The university is recommending that food or drink not be served at on-campus gatherings to minimize the need to remove face coverings.
In SEAS, we also recommend that you avoid eating indoors with others at this time.
Note: If you would like to obtain N95/K95 masks in light of public health experts now suggesting upgrading from cloth masks, you can do so at any of the Community Sampling and Tracking Program testing locations.
Please schedule a COVID test through the University Sampling and Tracking Program: SEAS is strongly urging that all individuals returning to campus get a COVID test before coming to the Dana Building. One of the best ways to schedule a COVID test is through the University’s COVID Community and Sampling Tracking Program. Additional testing locations can be found here. See these photos of what testing looks like on campus. If you want a test, sign up when you get this message because spots are filling up quickly. It is very helpful to read the FAQs before you go for testing.
In SEAS, we are asking that all staff who can work remotely do so for the week of January 3rd through the 7th, with supervisor approval, or until they can obtain a negative COVID test result to help reduce initial building density. The SEAS Student Center will reopen on January 5th in the Dana building. Their staff will work remotely on January 3 & 4.
Distancing in classrooms: In accordance with the latest university policies and to create more availability of in-person classes for students in the term ahead, we will no longer require 3-foot distancing in classrooms and other SEAS common areas. Given our highly vaccinated population, masking, testing availability, and other COVID safety measures in place, public health and university officials have issued this guidance. Moreover, the largest colleges (LSA and Engineering) within U-M eliminated distancing at the start of the fall term and did not experience any known instances of COVID transmission in classrooms.
We are asking faculty and supervisors to be understanding and flexible. There may be students and staff who are unable to attend in-person classes, work, or activities due to illness, a COVID quarantine, or a positive test result. Please make accommodations as needed in these instances so individuals can virtually participate while keeping our community safe.
I know that there are feelings of anxiety around the latest variant and the return to campus, as there have been throughout the pandemic, and we will keep you updated on the information we receive from the central campus leadership as soon as it is available. We must continue to remain flexible in this ever-evolving landscape.
We have all navigated new experiences and challenges due to the pandemic. I am so proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish together as a community over the past year, and I am grateful to you for your hard work to advance our mission in the midst of it all.
I wish you a safe and Happy New Year and look forward to seeing you all in the new term!
From: President Schlissel and Provost Collins
To All Members of the Campus Community:
We hope everyone is enjoying winter break and finding time to relax and spend time with loved ones. In the days since the end of the fall term and our first in-person commencement in two years, we’ve continued to monitor the spread of the Delta and Omicron variants and adapt our health and safety strategies as we prepare to safely resume in-person instruction as scheduled on Jan. 5.
Some institutions have decided to begin winter semester instruction online, leading to questions from many in our community about our winter term plans. We want to share our latest thinking and assessments of where U-M is with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic. As we did during the fall, we are working together among the Campus Health Response Committee, executive team, deans, and other academic leaders to provide the best possible educational experiences for our students as safely as we can and largely in person.
The measures outlined below are designed to diminish spread and prevent severe illness while preserving residential education. We are prioritizing student learning, the pedagogical needs of our academic programs, and the enriching classroom interactions that can’t be fully replicated remotely. We also build on our successful experiences last semester, very high levels of vaccination, and excellent compliance with our rules around indoor face coverings.
In recent semesters we’ve learned that students return to Ann Arbor in conjunction with the start of any new term whether classes are primarily online or in person. In addition, our classrooms with required vaccination and masking have remained safe throughout the pandemic. Therefore, in Ann Arbor, we do not believe that an initial period of remote education will significantly diminish the spread of COVID-19. In recognition of the activity of COVID-19 locally and nationally, however, we will implement additional public health measures with the goal of limiting the spread of the Omicron variant and continuing our important work.
We know more about the Omicron variant, and U-M Chief Health Officer Preeti Malani (published in JAMA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that we have the tools to combat Omicron, and they begin with vaccination and boosters.
Given the continuing uncertainty of the pandemic, we will have to remain flexible moving forward and change course if circumstances dictate.
COVID-19 boosters: Our most important tool
Get a booster as soon as you’re eligible wherever you can. They are widely available. As Dr. Malani and her coauthors note: "While vaccination does not prevent all infections, thus far vaccination has provided protection against severe illness, hospitalization, and death" and "a booster increases the protection against symptomatic infection with Omicron to about 75%."
We’re requiring booster shots for all faculty, staff, and students under the U-M vaccination policy not later than Feb. 4, but we urge you to get boosted as soon as you are eligible. Michigan Medicine is also requiring booster shots under the policy and will be providing details of their implementation plan next week.
We estimate that at least 25 percent of students on the Ann Arbor campus already have received boosters – so we’re well on our way to again leading our state in vaccinations. We’ll ask everyone to self-report their booster status shortly after the first of the year. Enforcement mechanisms for those who remain non-compliant will begin on Feb. 4.
Here are additional measures we are implementing and recommendations for the continue to limit winter term:
Residence hall student testing required – We’re requiring all students living in the residence halls to test for COVID-19 upon arrival to campus through the CSTP, which resumes Jan. 3. Please sign up for your timeslot. Until you receive your test result, please keep your mask on and limit social interactions. CSTP testing will continue to be available for all members of the university community as in the fall semester and required weekly of anyone who has an exemption to our vaccination policy.
Face coverings required in additional places – We’re requiring everyone to wear a face covering, regardless of vaccination status, while in common areas of our residence halls and in campus recreation facilities through at least Jan. 17. The U-M indoor and transit mask requirement will remain in effect.
Vaccination requirement for ticketed events – Beginning Jan. 1, we’ll require vaccination or proof of a negative test for attendance at ticketed events, including Athletics and on-campus SMTD performances. Our University Musical Society already has such a requirement. More details will be shared once they are final.
Stay home if you’re sick – Keeping away from others when symptomatic is essential to preventing the spread of COVID-19 (and the flu). We ask instructors to be flexible with students who are sick, and employees should not come to campus if sick. If you have symptoms, get tested through UHS if you’re a student, or either OHS or your personal physician if you’re a faculty or staff member.
Travel and post-travel recommendations – We strongly encourage all students, faculty, and staff, regardless of vaccination status, to get tested if they have traveled, even if it’s using an at-home rapid antigen test. Please do this before attending any social gatherings when you return. We also recommend using face coverings that meet higher standards (such as KN95s) during air travel. The CDC has posted information on the different types of face coverings.
Additional cautions – Please be extra careful when eating and drinking around others in large groups and try to minimize the time spent not wearing your mask. Our dining halls will continue to offer grab-and-go options. We recommend not serving food or drink at on-campus convenings. We also recommend avoiding indoor off-campus social gatherings where people are likely to be unmasked or unvaccinated.
Over the break, some of us have experienced holiday events where family members were unable to attend due to testing positive for COVID-19. The more-rapid spread of the Omicron variant, now the dominant strain in the United States, means that greater case numbers are likely here, as they have been around the state and nation. These cases seem to be milder than earlier in the pandemic, and those who are vaccinated and boosted almost never get seriously ill.
We ask for everyone’s continued vigilance and care as we tackle this next phase of the pandemic. Both of these qualities were essential to our fall term’s success.
Your vigilance to health and safety measures allowed our students to progress academically, our research enterprise to thrive, and the college experience to return, at last, to our campus. Often, COVID-19 was less prevalent on campus than it was in the surrounding community. At the same time, your willingness to care for and support one another helped our community prevail, together, through months of draining and seemingly relentless challenges.
Thank you for your commitment to the University of Michigan.
Mark S. Schlissel, M.D., Ph.D., President
Susan M. Collins, Ph.D., Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs