COVID-19 Update to Campus: March 26, 2020

To the Eastern Michigan University community:

Earlier today we received word of a second positive COVID-19 test result involving one of our students. The student lived in campus housing and was last on campus two weeks ago, on March 12 (the day the university stopped in person classes). The student lived in a single unit and did not have symptoms when they departed campus. The student is now under care at home. Our thoughts and support are with the student and their family.

As in yesterday’s report, public health officials indicate there is no concern of exposure to others on campus due to the length of time between the student’s departure from campus and the onset of symptoms.

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 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.

Washtenaw County Health Department Emergency Order

Late yesterday, the Washtenaw County Health Department issued an Emergency Order requiring essential service providers and businesses to use recommended screening and social distancing to protect everyone’s health to the greatest degree possible.

As we’ve stated repeatedly, guidance and directives in this crisis continue to evolve and change rapidly with little notice. Eastern Michigan has been working through the day to develop a screening process to meet the County’s order, which provides for employees to do their own daily health check prior to working. Specific details about the process were included in an email to employees on behalf of University Human Resources a short time ago.

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 keys 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.

Swoop’s Food Pantry

The John and Angie Sabo Swoop’s Food Pantry Room had more than 100 shoppers over the past three days. Clients are requested to complete an online shopping request form before arriving. Items will be bagged by staff and brought out to clients when they arrive. Visitors to Swoop’s can enter through the main entrance on the north side of Pierce Hall near the elevator.

Also, Swoop’s requires any student who has not used the pantry this year to complete the Swoop's Food Pantry Intake Form.

Next week, Swoop’s will be open on Tuesday (3/31) and Thursday (4/2) from noon – 3:30 p.m.:

Thanks to donations, Swoop’s has received many wonderful personal care items, games, puzzles, and coloring books, which clients have appreciated. 

Currently needed items include bread, non-dairy milk, tofu, toilet paper, cheese and cream cheese, canned beans, and condiments such as barbecue sauce and hot sauce. 

Please email Swoop’s to inquire about making a food or self-care product donation at [email protected].

For those who wish to contribute financial support so that Swoop’s can purchase necessary items based on client needs, donations are accepted here:

Swoop's Student Food Pantry donations

In addition, donations to support students can be made here:

EMU Student Emergency Fund

More stories of inspiration

In addition to the important and wonderful work by the staff of Swoop’s, we continue to receive many examples of campus community members who are going above and beyond to support our students and fellow citizens during these challenging times. It is truly heartwarming and inspiring!

  • Chad Hutchinson, who became Eastern’s new orchestra director this past year, is one of many great examples of faculty who continue to support our students remotely and is also ensuring they are practicing self care. As you can imagine, the orchestra director normally spends all of his time working with EMU students in person. Director Hutchinson is now working with all of his students using Zoom and other technologies. He also made a self-care video for his students, and now they are sharing their own self-care ideas on discussion boards within Canvas. He has played piano pieces for his students (some classical, some jazz) both as a gift to them and also to demonstrate that performing their own art is still very important in these times. His is but one example of all of the large ensemble directors in the School of Music and Dance who have continued teaching content to their students, despite the challenges inherent in those classes.  
  • Counselors Krystol Alpert and Olivia Kaiserian with Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) have volunteered to serve as crisis counselors for the Crisis Textline during the COVID-19 pandemic. Krystol is completing her master’s degree in counseling at EMU and Olivia is completing her master’s degree in social work from the University of Michigan. Both are finishing their respective placements at CAPS this year. The Crisis Textline is a national crisis support service that can be accessed by texting "Hello" to 741-741.

  • Last Thursday, the Eastern Michigan University Children's Institute hosted a drive-up opportunity for families to pick up an activity bag and pantry items needed from the Children's Institute Little Free Pantry. Nearly 70 families drove through, with eight Children's Institute staff helping to distribute the items. The activity bags included a book, playdough, craft items and paper. Mailers with additional activities for families to do at home were also mailed this week, and more are planned to be mailed next week. 

I enjoy learning about these efforts as much as I like sharing them with you. As they say, and it is especially true here at Eastern Michigan University, adversity brings out the best in people. We should all be proud of these fine efforts, and the many others that are taking place. Please continue to forward them to us. Send to [email protected]. We look forward to highlighting more wonderful initiatives in future communications.  

Last, but certainly not least, please continue to follow social distancing guidance, as well as hand washing and other prevention measures. Follow your 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.

With warm regards,

James Smith, Ph.D.

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