COVID-19 Campus Update: March 13, 2020

To the Eastern Michigan University community:

Preparations for the start of online classes on Monday, March 16 are moving forward. We appreciate student, faculty and staff understanding and patience as we begin this journey, along with our university colleagues across the country, into what are largely uncharted waters.

We are committed throughout this process to operate with the utmost concern for the health and well being of students, faculty and staff. Our decisions are based on fully supporting social distancing recommendations as guided by the Centers for Disease Control as well as local and state public health officials.

We have several important operational items for today’s update:


Student employees

Student employees can continue to work at the discretion of their supervisors, either on campus or remotely as directed by supervisors.

The University recognizes that with the temporary reduction in on campus operations, certain student employees will not be needed, such as in dining and other areas. We understand that many students rely heavily on their student employment to make ends meet and that the impact of not working could lead to serious financial consequences. The U.S. Department of Education is reviewing this matter and is expected to provide guidance to universities within the next week. The University will evaluate the federal guidance and assess how best to support our students. We hope to be able to provide a plan for those students within the next week. In the meantime, all students who worked over the past two weeks will receive their pay as scheduled on March 19.

Registration for Fall 2020 classes delayed one week 

Given the disruption in the regular class schedule, the University is delaying the opening of Fall 2020 class registration by one week, to Monday, March 23.  

Hours for Halle Library, EMU Dining and Rec/IM

Updated hours for these operations are posted on their respective webpages:


Halle Library

EMU Dining  

Student Center


Webinars for faculty

We understand today’s webinars did not go as planned for faculty. We are working through these issues and appreciate your patience and understanding. We will continue to provide updates as soon as possible. As I indicated on Wednesday, with such a massive undertaking and transition to online/virtual classes, there are bound to be some challenges along the way. Working together, we will overcome them. 

Building access 

Swipe card access should work for your building in order to access workspaces and offices over the weekend and over the next two weeks when online/virtual classes are held.

As indicated previously, all buildings will be open Monday, March 16 so that employees can retrieve laptops and materials needed to work remotely. If you are unable to swipe into your building, please contact the Department of Public Safety at 734.487.1222.

Desktop computers

Employees who wish to take desktop computers and peripheral equipment out of their office to work remotely should complete an equipment checkout request form.

Payroll and timesheets

Payroll operations continue as standard. Employee pay will be processed in accordance with the typical schedule.

For timesheets, employees should classify yesterday and today (March 12, 13) as they would for a snow day. Beginning Monday, March 16, all employees should resume routine timesheet entry – those who work remotely and designated employees who work on campus.

Campus mail pickup

In order to minimize interaction and embrace social distancing, mail pickup will be centralized beginning Monday, March 16 through the planned return to campus operations on Monday, March 30. All offices will be required to pick up their mail from the mail office.


Campus cleaning

The University’s facilities team continues its enhanced cleaning efforts across campus. They are concentrating on touch points (door handles, light switches, desk tops, etc.) and will cover all of campus before the currently scheduled employee return to campus on Monday, March 30, with on campus classes currently scheduled to resume on Wednesday April 1. 

By Monday, March 16, bathrooms in the following buildings will have been power-washed and fogged with an electrostatic disinfectant: Porter, Marshall, Halle, Quirk, Pray-Harrold, Mark Jefferson, Strong, Sherzer, Hover, Briggs, Student Center, Rec/IM, Bowen and Alexander.

Public spaces that are used daily, such as Halle Library, the Rec/IM and the Student Center, will continue to receive daily cleaning and disinfecting.

The University has expanded its purchase of disinfectant wipes to distribute across campus. The demand for wipes locally and nationally is great and we are working to purchase and distribute as many as we can obtain.

Swoop’s Food Pantry

The University recognizes the importance and need for Swoop’s Food Pantry. Given the challenging circumstances with employment both on campus and off, the need for a resource such as Swoop’s is likely more important today than it was a week ago. We are currently reviewing plans to resume some level of operations next week. We will advise you when the plan is in place.


My most important request of everyone as we enter the weekend is to continue to practice prevention. Practice social distancing. Employees should work remotely if and when you can (and if you are not a designated employee). Wash hands thoroughly and frequently. Sanitize and disinfect. Avoid contact with people who are sick.

The Washtenaw County Health Department has published a full set of prevention measures.

Monday’s launch of fully online classes will be challenging, but I know we are capable of meeting that challenge. As I said earlier, these are uncharted waters – not only for us but for our university colleagues across the country.

We communicated previously our intention to resume on campus classes on Wednesday, April 1, with employees returning on Monday, March 30. We are closely following the changing situation, including guidance from the Governor’s office and public health officials in this regard. These dates may be modified as we indicated from the outset. We will update you further next week. 

I appreciate your patience, support and understanding as we move forward through these unprecedented days that test our creativity and resilience. Please continue to monitor Eastern's COVID-19 website and your campus email for further updates.


James Smith, Ph.D.

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