COVID-19 Update to Campus: March 25, 2020

To the Eastern Michigan University community:

As indicated in my message earlier today, this morning we received the unfortunate news from the Washtenaw County Health Department (WCHD) that an Eastern Michigan University student has tested positive for COVID-19. Our thoughts are with the student and their family.

According to the WCHD, the student has not attended classes since March 5. The student lived off campus and is from Wayne County.

There is no indication that the student had the disease at any point while on campus. The WCHD indicates the student would not have been at risk of exposing others until March 19, and at this time there is no indication that the student visited campus since in person classes ended on March 11.

The student is currently hospitalized and is not part of the study abroad group that visited Italy, which we communicated about previously. The health department is following its protocol of tracking close contacts of the student. Those individuals will be contacted separately and advised by the health department if needed to self-quarantine or take other actions.

Due to federal privacy laws, no personal details or further information about the student is being released. We have been, and continue to be, in very close and regular contact with public health officials at the County and State.

As this disease spreads, it is increasingly likely that many of us will at some point know of a family member, friend or associate who has been affected. Our thoughts and support are with all of those who are fighting this disease, those family members who are worried about their loved ones, and also with our health, medical and first responder communities who are on the front lines every day.

Credit eligibility for residence hall/housing move-out

An important reminder: To be eligible for the housing and/or dining credit previously announced, all personal items must be removed from on-campus housing and formal checkout and key must be returned no later than March 31 at 5 p.m. Students will not receive a credit if they have not removed their belongings and completed the formal checkout process/key return by that date and time.

A few students and parents have asked if coming to campus would violate the Governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order. The Governor’s executive order does not prohibit travel for such purposes. Section 7 of the Governor's executive order states:

Section 7(b): Individuals may also travel:
(1) To return to a home or place of residence from outside this state.
(2) To leave this state for a home or residence elsewhere.
(3) To travel between two residences in this state.

Students moving their belongings from campus to their permanent residence fall within these exceptions.

Academic policy change for Winter 2020 only

Yesterday, Michael Tew, Associate Provost and Associate Vice President for Academic Programming & Services, provided information via an email to all students about extended deadlines for student grade and class withdrawal options. Details and email addresses for questions and additional information can be found here. 

Employee leave

We understand there remain a number of questions about the recently announced Temporary EMU COVID-19 Related Leave as well as the emergency leave acts recently enacted by the federal government. Details regarding each of these leaves may be found on the University Human Resources Leaves of Absence webpage. Additional questions may be directed to the University Human Resources Benefits Office at [email protected].

Inspiration in challenging times

In recent campus messages, we have provided examples of exemplary work among members of the Eastern community in supporting others in these difficult and uncertain times. I have asked students, faculty and staff to send other such stories to me so that we might share them with you as we move through this crisis. It is important that we continue to embrace and acknowledge the positive and inspirational efforts of our colleagues and associates. I thank those of you who have taken the time to bring those to our attention. We look forward to highlighting them in future communications.  

Please continue to follow social distancing guidance, as well as hand washing and other prevention measures. Follow University email, the University’s COVID-19 website and our Frequently Asked Questions for additional information and updates, as well as resources to help keep you safe. My very best to all of you.

James Smith, Ph.D.

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