COVID-19 Update to Campus: April 6, 2020

To the Eastern Michigan University community:

Today marks the beginning of our fourth week of online/virtual class instruction -- it also marks three weeks away from the end of the winter semester. The level of understanding and acceptance among our students, faculty and staff to the adaptations we have been forced to implement continues to be a source of great gratitude, pride and admiration for all of us.

Commencement and graduation celebrations for current seniors

Perhaps nowhere are the effects of the pandemic as impactful as they are to our seniors, who were anticipating the traditional celebration to mark the milestone of the attainment of their degrees. Commencement day is the most special day on a university campus, and I, along with our faculty, University leadership, staff and the Alumni Office, were so looking forward to celebrating this day with our students and their families and loved ones.

We announced previously, with sadness, that Commencement activities would be postponed due to the health crisis. Postponed is the appropriate term. Graduating seniors will still have a celebration. University leadership is working on some creative solutions to mark April 25, which was to be Commencement day, in an appropriate but responsible way given the public health guidance limiting public interaction. We will have more to share once the plans are finalized, which is expected in the next week.

Most importantly, the University is committing to our graduating students’ participation in a full public Commencement ceremony once it is safe to do so, whether later this fall or in tandem with the University’s Fall Commencement ceremony. These plans also are being finalized with plans to be announced soon.

Seniors, we know this time is important to you. It is important to us as well. We will make sure you have the celebration you deserve! 

Reminder for employees working on campus to answer screening questions

Although most EMU employees continue to work remotely, a few, who have been designated as “critical infrastructure workers,” are still coming to campus.  As a reminder for these employees and their supervisors, the Washtenaw County Health Department emergency order dated March 26, 2020 is currently in place until April 13, 2020. That order requires EMU employees to answer screening questions each time they report to work on campus (or before reporting to campus for work). Some supervisors have chosen to use a paper form for employees to answer the questions. Others are using the Google Form that has been made available. Supervisors and employees should coordinate regarding which form should be used. As a reminder, if any EMU employee answers "yes" to any of the screening questions, that employee may not work on campus. Further information regarding the Order is available on EMU's COVID-19 website and the Washtenaw County Health Department website. The paper and Google forms are available on the HR Forms website.

Here are the relevant links:

Paper Form:

https://www.emich.edu/hr/documents/benefits/covid-19-daily-screening-requiements.pdf 

Google Form:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc3q9jJpHHcbdydrJBGadHTklhKhMV8_Y-ELkB4tc7XvySh7g/viewform

Health Department:

https://www.washtenaw.org/3122/Critical-Infrastructure-Businesses-Guida 

HR Forms:

https://www.emich.edu/hr/working/employment/forms.php  

Remote working resources/Zoom

As we continue to adapt to the remote working environment, the Division of Information Technology (IT) continues to work to share and support technology resources. IT has updated its remote-work resources and information page to assist the campus community in these efforts. Please visit the webpage: Technology Resources for Working Remotely. It also is linked on the University’s COVID-19 website.

Given the questions and concerns that you may have observed in national media about the use of the video conferencing platform Zoom, the IT page also includes security tips for using Zoom effectively and securely. It also includes information about Jabber - the softphone (software-based phone) that people can request access to so they can make/receive calls from their campus phone right on their computer.

Wellness programs now available online

Classes and working remotely aren’t the only major adjustments taking place on our campus. Wellness programs for students, faculty, staff and community members have moved online as well. These include exercise, fitness and other initiatives, including yoga, pilates, meditation and even “Wellness Woof” dog therapy. Sean Woolf, associate director of the EMU Office of Wellness and Community Responsibility, is helping coordinate these efforts. He indicates that these programs are a great way to help deal with stress and grief, as well as helping to build resilience and adjust to adversity. Individual classes can be found on the University calendar.

Reminders/updates

  • The number of students living on campus is now at 313. We expect that number to continue to decline slightly in the days ahead. As this transition continues, we remain committed to supporting students who are still on campus. Students with questions about their on-campus housing or the move-out process should email [email protected]emich.edu.
  • The John and Angie Sabo Swoop’s Food Pantry Room will be open tomorrow (Tuesday, April 7) and Thursday, April 9, from noon – 3:30 p.m. 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. Swoop’s requires any student who has not used the pantry this year to complete the Swoop's Food Pantry Intake Form. Please maintain social/physical distancing guidance when picking up or delivering items to the Pantry.

Creative approaches to virtual class delivery

We continue to learn about Eastern faculty members who are implementing creative approaches to engage their students in our virtual/online world. Professor Linda Kinczkowski shared with us how she adjusted her three classes in the Simulation, Animation and Gaming program. Considering they were design classes, being able to see and interact with students was imperative. While she misses the personal approach of in-person classes, she has used CANVAS and ZOOM to continue course delivery and meet with students, seeing their continued project work and hearing their reports on each assignment. Professor Kinczkowski indicates that during these meetings she reassures students that “we will get through this together” while also allowing the opportunity for a few laughs, which she says helps lighten some of the challenges faced by students during the health crisis.

Please continue to relay details of any other special efforts you are aware of to EMU_univcomm@emich.edu.

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.

Please continue to observe physical distancing guidance, as well as hand washing and other prevention measures.

Many thanks for your continued engagement and commitment to Eastern as we weather this crisis.

James Smith, Ph.D.

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