COVID-19 Update to Campus: August 14, 2020

To the Eastern Michigan University community:

Today’s email message addresses the following:

  • Commitment to Protecting our Community
  • Fall course schedules
  • Testing protocols
  • Swoops Food Pantry
  • Highlighting successes
  • Health and safety reminder 

Safe Return-To-Campus Plan

Our Safe Return-To-Campus Plan continues to circulate among our students and their families, and our faculty and staff. I urge you to review it in its entirety. It provides a comprehensive view of the University’s extensive response to COVID-19 and the actions we have in place to mitigate its spread. The plan is accessible from the University’s website and is posted on several key University pages to ensure its availability.

A key element of the plan is outlined in the section titled Commitment to Protecting our Community. I will share the section in its entirety, as it is a critical element of our steps toward on-campus interaction: 

Commitment to Protecting our Community

As members of the Eastern Michigan University community, each of us share in the responsibility to limit the spread of COVID-19.  We’re all in this together, and we want to stay safe together. We ask each member of our community to make the following commitment.

As a community and as individuals, we will follow on-campus procedures and protocols designed to stop the spread.

We will complete EMU’s daily screening for possible COVID-19 symptoms and exposure every day before coming to campus. We will honestly disclose any and all symptoms of illness and exposure to the disease after having been in close contact with someone who has it.

We will promptly disclose to EMU’s Dean of Students and Assistant Vice President of Academic & Student Affairs at [email protected] if we test positive for COVID-19.

We will read and follow the procedures and precautions the University provides regarding COVID-19 and the University’s ongoing effort to eradicate transmission of the virus on our campus.

We will:

  • Practice physical distancing (the wingspan of an Eagle is 6 feet!);
  • Practice good hand washing (20 seconds minimum!) or, when soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer;
  • Wear face coverings as required;
  • Cover coughs and sneezes appropriately (use an elbow, not a hand, and keep a face covering on!);
  • Follow directional signs telling us where to enter and exit buildings, and how to get around;
  • Check in at any screening desks that are located in any University building we enter;
  • Stay home when we are feeling sick;
  • Follow any enhanced cleaning procedures we encounter; and,
  • Treat each other with respect and empathy.

Stopping the spread of COVID-19 requires active participation by all members of our EMU community. We understand that the University’s information and safety procedures will be updated.

Because these instructions are critical to the continued health of the campus community, we understand that there will be consequences enforced by Human Resources, the Office of Wellness and Community Responsibility, and other appropriate departments, for people who do not follow these safety protocols.

We understand that by coming to campus, we may be in contact with people who are also at risk of community exposure to COVID-19, and that no list of restrictions, guidelines or practices will remove 100 percent of the risk of exposure to COVID-19. The virus can be transmitted by persons who are asymptomatic and before some people show signs of infection.

We understand that each of us plays a critical role in keeping everyone on campus safe and reducing the risk of exposure by following the practices outlined here.

We are #EMUSafe. We will work to minimize the spread of COVID-19, learn all we can, keep each other safe, and strengthen our community.

On Monday, August 17, Student Body President Ethan Smith will introduce an online pledge that includes key elements from this commitment. The pledge offers voluntary participation with an online sign-in to “take the pledge.” I look forward to sharing it with our entire community following its introduction to students.

It is important for everyone in our community to review the specific sections in the Safe Return-To-Campus Plan related to Actions for Students and Actions for Employees. It is your individual responsibility to understand protocols for completing the daily health screeningwearing face coverings and physical distancing, among other essential details. The more we all follow these actions, the safer everyone in our community will be as we proceed through the fall semester. It must be a shared commitment amongst all of us.

If you would like additional perspectives about our plans for fall, I encourage you to listen to an interview I participated in this morning with 89.1 WEMU Morning Edition host David Fair. The 15-minute segment may address some questions you have about these plans.

Fall course schedules

Fall course schedules and delivery methods were finalized today and students have been notified. The changes are viewable in Banner and in my.emich.

Decisions about how individual course sections will be delivered were made at the college and department level to ensure that each course’s pedagogical needs are addressed and that students receive access to the excellent education they expect. The Office of the Provost staff and the Registrar have worked with Deans to execute this process.

As noted in prior messages, classroom space is extremely limited due to physical distancing standards. A substantial majority of class sections are being offered in an online or hybrid format.

Testing protocols

As recommended by the campus' Public Health Work Group, the University requires a variety of populations to be tested for COVID-19 prior to or upon arrival on campus, including housing residents, student-athletes, marching band members, and employees who work with these groups. The details and timing for these testing protocols vary based on the population; those details are being shared with the impacted individuals via separate communications. The University is also developing protocols for publishing campus testing data in a way that does not violate privacy laws. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our colleagues from IHA and the testing company, Vault, for their assistance in making this testing possible.

Swoop’s Food Pantry update

Next week, the John and Angie Sabo Swoop’s Food Pantry Room will be open on Tuesday (8/18) from 12:30 – 5:30 p.m. and Thursday (8/20) from 12 – 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.

If you wish to donate items – those most needed are garbanzo beans, cereal, condiments such as salt, pepper, ketchup and mustard, as well as notebooks and dish soap.

They can be dropped off on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. – noon at 104 Pierce Hall. Swoop’s can also pick up items from your porch for those in the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area. Send an email to [email protected] to arrange a donation pickup.

Please maintain physical distancing guidance when picking up or delivering items to the Pantry.

Please note that Swoop’s will be closed the last week of August in order to prepare for the start of the semester.

Highlighting success

Continuing our ongoing theme of highlighting academic and student success, Dr. Vijay Mannari, professor of polymers and coatings, is among the exceptional American innovators inducted this summer into the National Academy of Inventors in recognition of his innovations in the field of ultraviolet (UV)-curing materials and systems.

Professor Mannari is the director of the Coatings Research Institute in the College of Engineering and Technology. His selection provides another exclamation point in a career marked by innovation and scholarship in the development of advanced and sustainable UV-curable materials and systems.

Recent innovations from Dr. Mannari’s research group include a UV-LED light curable bio-based nail-gel, along with design and demonstration of advanced dual-curable material for 3D-printing applications. His long list of inventions includes six patents that have been issued to Eastern Michigan University.

Women's golf standout Julia Stevenson won the Golf Association of Michigan (GAM) Women's Championship this week. A graduate and current first-year MBA student at Eastern, Julia played for Eastern for the past four years, since joining us as a freshman. She is the second Eastern Michigan student-athlete to win the GAM tournament in its 29-year history. 

Congratulations to Dr. Mannari and Ms. Stevenson on these accomplishments!

Health and safety reminder

As I do each week, I will conclude with an important health and safety reminder as we head into the weekend. Please continue to:

  • Practice effective hand washing and the use of hand sanitizers;
  • Wear face coverings; and,
  • Observe physical distancing.

These three actions, when taken together, dramatically reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19.

Please continue to follow the University’s COVID-19 website and the EMU Safe website for ongoing updates.

Have a safe weekend.

James Smith, Ph.D.