Latest Updates

  • Thu., Jan. 27, 2022

    Campus Update – Jan. 27, 2022


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    The following is an excerpt of President Smith's Jan. 27 message to campus as it pertains to the University's response to the pandemic:

    To the Eastern Michigan University community,

    Fortunately, we are beginning to see a slight decline in the number of COVID-19 cases across the state and nation over the record numbers from early January. Researchers are hopeful the latest wave has reached its apex. We are by no means out of the danger zone or at a point where we can rest on any successes, as case counts and hospitalizations remain very high.

    As they have throughout the pandemic, the case numbers at Eastern Michigan University continue to average far below the region, state and nation. We believe this is directly attributable to our robust plans and policies to mitigate the spread of the disease in our community.

    COVID-19 Cases, Dashboard, and Mitigation Efforts

     For the second consecutive week, the number of COVID-19 cases involving students and employees has declined. Please visit the University’s COVID-19 Dashboard to learn more.

    Testing Center Extended Hours

     The University’s on-campus Testing Center has expanded its hours to include additional early-morning and evening appointments for employees and students to receive a free COVID-19 test on campus. Visit the Testing Center website for details.

    Employee Vaccination/Testing Policy Underway

    The University’s mandatory vaccination/testing policy for employees is underway. We’re pleased to report that since the policy was implemented, the number of regular employees who have reported that they are vaccinated has increased to 90.2% (up from 88.2% two weeks ago). This data is also reflected on the bottom of the dashboard. The remaining 9.8% of employees who are either unvaccinated or who have not reported their status, will undergo weekly testing until such time that they document they are vaccinated.

    Student Vaccination Policies

    Students who live in on-campus housingstudent-athletes, and students who participate in certain academic programs are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19. All other students with any in-person courses or who participate in on-campus activities must either be vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing.

    Face Masks Required Indoors

    Reminder: All individuals (regardless of vaccination status) must wear face masks indoors with limited exceptionsLearn more about the University’s face mask policy and best practices for wearing face masks.

    The University is providing free KN95 masks (up to two per person) and/or free EMU-branded three-layer green or white surgical masks to employees and students who want one. Masks are available at the following locations:

    • Student Center Information Desk (900 Oakwood)
    • Department of Public Safety Headquarters front desk (1200 Oakwood), and

    Health experts also strongly recommend utilizing the “Knot & Tuck” method for wearing a face mask. It is shown to increase filtration by 21%. Watch this 50-second video demonstration of the “Knot & Tuck” method to learn more.

    Student and Employee Wellness

    The University’s Safe Return Steering Committee had a robust discussion this morning about the level of trauma, despair and anxiety caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on students and employees. The deep level of concern expressed among Committee members reflects observations in classes and in workspaces, both on campus and remote. The emotional challenges that many are experiencing are exacerbated by the length of the pandemic and the ongoing changes in guidelines and protocols that are necessary as a result of the variant strains of the virus.

    With awareness of this extremely challenging environment, I implore you to be kind to one another, respect one another, and support one another. Be sensitive and empathetic to the difficulties that your friends and colleagues may be facing at school, at work and at home. If you are a student, I encourage you to utilize the resources of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). If you are an employee, please consider contacting the Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

    Next Vaccine Clinic scheduled Feb. 19

    The next community COVID-19 vaccine opportunity will take place on Saturday, Feb. 19, from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., in the Student Center Ballroom. The clinic is open to all persons 12 years of age and up, and no appointment is needed. Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson will be available. Booster shots, as well as first or second round doses, will be provided. For booster shots, individuals must bring their vaccine card or an image of their vaccine card on their cell phone.

    Vaccinations are also offered at the Campus Medical Pharmacy located inside the IHA Health Center @EMU. For additional details, please contact the pharmacy at 734.547.5995.

    Health and Safety Reminder

    Given the still high numbers of positive cases of COVID-19, it’s important to reiterate some of the key safety protocols we should follow:

    • Practice effective hand washing and the use of hand sanitizers;
    • Wear face coverings, particularly when indoors in public areas;
    • Observe physical distancing; and,
    • Get vaccinated (or boosted) if you are eligible.

    These actions, when taken together, dramatically reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19. And, vaccination minimizes the severity of cases in most situations, for those who do contract the virus. 

    As always, I thank you for your work on behalf of the University and your ongoing support of our #EMUSafe initiatives. Please continue to monitor your University email for future updates.

    James Smith, Ph.D.

    [See the President's Office page to view the full message.]

  • Thu., Jan. 20, 2022

    Regular class schedule beginning Jan. 24, 2022 – posted Jan. 20, 2022


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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    Next week (beginning Monday, Jan. 24, 2022), we will return to our regular course schedule for the winter semester. 

    I appreciate the flexibility and patience of students, faculty, and staff during the last two weeks while we temporarily shifted to remote learning.  

    Winter Course Schedule

    Our two-week deviation from the regular winter course schedule was designed to allow our internal systems (EMU Telehealth Clinic, our on-campus COVID-19 Testing Center, the Dean of Students Office, etc.) to manage the expected increase in COVID-19 cases following the holiday break. Indeed, cases of COVID-19 increased as expected, but case counts are now declining.

    As we resume the regular winter semester course schedule, it bears reminding that we have zero documented cases of transmission of COVID-19 in classrooms thanks to our highly-effective EMU Safe protocols. Those protocols include:

    COVID-19 Vaccines Are Effective

    The data continue to be clear: For those who are eligible, COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective in reducing transmission of COVID-19, and effective in reducing the impact on those who do contract COVID-19. The vast majority of individuals who are hospitalized for COVID-19 are unvaccinated. Vaccination is our collective path to returning to “normal”.

    If you have already been vaccinated, thank you! As a next step, please receive a COVID-19 booster shot as soon as possible. If you are not vaccinated, please do so as soon as possible. There are numerous opportunities to receive a vaccine (including booster shots) on-campus and off-campus. 

    Additional Updates for Non-Instructional Staff

    Staff members who had been working a modified remote schedule during the past two weeks should return to their typical schedules consistent with any approved departmental flexible work and operational excellence plans. Supervisors are responsible for communicating expectations to employees that are consistent with these plans.  

    The ongoing dedication of our faculty, staff, and community to adhering to EMU Safe protocols and working together to ensure a safe campus have served our students and our colleagues very well throughout the many challenges of the global pandemic. Your ongoing commitment will continue to help us best serve our mission to support student learning as we move forward together.  

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Fri., Jan. 14, 2022

    Campus Update – Jan. 14, 2022

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    The following is an excerpt of the Jan. 14, 2022 message to campus that pertains to the COVID-19 pandemic:

    To the Eastern Michigan University community,

    Welcome to 2022 and the first week of the winter semester. I understand our remote start to the semester is not what any of us had planned as 2021 concluded, but the volatility of COVID-19 again reared its dangerous head with a new variant and an explosion of new cases. As I have promised since the start of the pandemic, Eastern Michigan University is committed to moving rapidly to adjust our multi-layered safety protocols as events dictate. And this latest surge in cases – locally, statewide, and across the country – is certainly such an event. This is a key factor in our decision, announced earlier this week, to extend remote learning for an additional week through Jan. 23. New information emerges each day about this variant’s transmissibility and potential differences in symptoms and severity from past infections. We will keep monitoring and adapting to what’s learned. We will stay focused on the safety of our shared spaces and take necessary measures to ensure it through our policies and practices. Thank you to all for your support of these public health measures.

     

    COVID-19 Mitigation Efforts

    • Mandatory testing of non-vaccinated employees to begin: EMU's policy that all employees must be vaccinated or tested weekly remains in effect.This policy was outlined in detail last month. Yesterday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision that OSHA does not have authority to require employers to impose a policy of this nature does not impact EMU’s institutionalpolicy The Court has allowed public employers such as EMU –separate from any action by OSHA– to enact policies just like ours. The University has consistently communicated that our Employee Vaccination/Screening Policy is the correct and balanced approach for our campus, and the policy will be implemented as planned.

      Mandatory weekly testing begins on Monday for regular employees who are not vaccinated and who have not reported their vaccination status to the University. The vast majority of University employees are vaccinated and have reported their vaccination status to the University, and are therefore not required to complete weekly testing. Those employees who are required to undergo weekly testing have been notified repeatedly via email. A new feature on the University’s COVID-19 Dashboard details the University’s overall employee vaccination rate, which currently is 88.2%. The data also show vaccination rates among the various full-time, regular employee groups.

    • COVID-19 testing: The COVID-19 Testing Center in the Student Center reopened after the winter break last Wednesday, Jan. 5. The one-day volume of tests provided on that day was our highest ever, at more than 400, and the remainder of the week and beginning of this week we continue to see a high number of tests conducted. As you would expect given the recent surge, we also are seeing a significantly higher than average number of positive cases. The number of tests conducted from Wednesday, Jan. 5 to Tuesday, Jan. 11, totals 1,649. Of those, 209 positive cases were identified for a weekly positivity rate of 12.67%. During this time, we reported a total of 369 positive cases, which includes information reported from students, faculty and staff who had external tests. This represents the University’s highest weekly positivity rate to date, and is consistent with the dramatic increase in case numbers and positivity rates we see in the surrounding community, state and nation. As noted above, these data are a factor in our decision to extend remote class formats through Jan. 23 and reinforces the rationale for the additional mandatory testing protocols in place.

      The Testing Center will be open today (Friday, Jan. 14) from 9 a.m. to noon, and tomorrow, Saturday, Jan. 15, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The full schedule next week can be found on the Testing Center website. We welcome the increasing number of students, faculty and staff who are being tested regularly, as this is an important element of our mitigation strategy.

    • Evolving face mask guidance: In light of evolving Centers for Disease Control guidance, we are reviewing our face mask policy and will be recommending changes to our current protocols in the days ahead.

    • Residential students, vaccinations and testing requirements: Vaccinations continue to be required for students living in University housing. In addition, residential students must provide verification of a negative test following the winter break.

    • Vaccination clinic draws more than 600: Last Saturday’s (Jan. 8) vaccination clinic in the Student Center Ballroom resulted in more than 600 people receiving a first, second or third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. More than 800 people attended, including parents bringing in children 12-15 years old for vaccinations. Leadership from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) was extremely complementary to the University and our team, led by Dean of Students Ellen Gold, who coordinated the effort alongside MDHHS staff. Given the large turnout, more clinics are planned in the future.

    These items represent just a handful of the many initiatives in place to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 among our campus community. We continue to closely monitor public health guidance, and meet with Washtenaw County Health Department experts regularly to evaluate, reassess and to consider adjustments to our protocols. The full range of policies, guidelines and safety protocols, for students, faculty and staff, can be found on the #EMUSafe website.

    Health and Safety Reminder

    Given the recent surge in positive cases of COVID-19, it’s important to reiterate some of the key safety protocols that each of us should follow:

    • Practice effective hand washing and the use of hand sanitizers;
    • Wear face coverings, particularly when indoors in public areas;
    • Observe physical distancing; and,
    • Get vaccinated (or boosted) if you are eligible.

    These actions, when taken together, dramatically reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19. And, vaccination minimizes the severity of cases in most situations, for those who do contract the virus.

    As always, I thank you for your work on behalf of the University and your ongoing support of our #EMUSafe initiatives. Please continue to monitor your University email for future updates.

    James Smith, Ph.D.

  • Mon., Jan. 10, 2022

    Remote classes through Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022 – posted Jan. 10, 2022

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    To the Eastern Michigan University community:

    I write with an update to my previous communication in which I shared that the winter semester will begin today with classes being delivered in an entirely remote format. All classes will be delivered in an entirely remote format for both this week and next week (the week of Monday, Jan. 17, 2022). The regular class schedule (which includes courses with an in-person format) will resume on Monday, Jan. 24.

    Instructors should contact students with more specific information about attending class remotely during these first two weeks of the winter semester. Understanding that students typically balance several instructional settings, instructors are requested to share this information as soon as possible after planning these revisions.

    There will be a small number of exceptions to allow in-person instruction next week (the week of Jan. 17), primarily within the School of Nursing and other schools in the College of Health and Human Services. Students will be notified individually of any exceptions as soon as possible and should check their email accounts for further direction.

    We did not reach this decision lightly, and did so after carefully evaluating the conditions in our community, rapidly-evolving guidance from government health agencies, and feedback from the EMU Safe Steering Committee. Initial indications from our on-campus Testing Center, which reopened last Wednesday, Jan. 5, are that positivity rates for student and employee populations reflect the increasing case count that is occurring in Washtenaw County, in Michigan, and across the country.  

    We understand that the shift to fully remote classes for two weeks will impose a burden on both instructors and students. We believe, however, that this two-week modification is important to managing the dramatic increase in cases of COVID-19 occurring across the nation, the state, and our region. We are confident that this modification to the winter course schedule, combined with our effective EMU Safe protocols, will position us well to resume the regular course schedule on Monday, Jan. 24. 

    As a reminder, the EMU Safe protocols include mandatory face masks indoors, vaccine and testing requirements for most students and employees, daily health screening for all individuals who come to campus, and free COVID-19 testing at the on-campus testing center.

    This two-week change impacts only the academic course schedule, and thus I want to close with an important thank you to the dedicated staff who perform critical infrastructure roles. This includes our colleagues who work in custodial services, maintenance, dining, police, and other areas. These hard-working individuals have never worked from home because of the nature of their work. They have come to work on a daily basis since March 2020 performing vital work without which this campus could not function. They deserve our continued recognition and gratitude.