Please find the most up to date information about the U-M campus response to COVID-19 at coronavirus.umich.edu/
 

March 23, 2020, 2:08pm: 

To All Members of the U-M Community:

Today, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an order that the vast majority of Michiganders "Stay Home and Stay Safe," calling for the suspension of most in-person work beginning at midnight through April 13, 2020, for our state in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The order broadly directs residents to remain at home or in their place of residence to the maximum extent feasible, and references several exceptions that are relevant to our university. These include workers in health care, public health, public safety, and critical infrastructure. Specifically, the order references federal guidelines that specify as critical: "educators supporting public and private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities for purposes of facilitating distance learning or performing other essential functions, if operating under rules for social distancing."

Thanks to the considerable efforts of many across the University of Michigan, we’re already doing much of what the governor’s order specifies. We have implemented strong measures that maintain critical aspects of our education, research and patient care while protecting health and safety and diminishing spread of the virus.

The actions we have taken will remain in place, as they align closely with the governor’s order:

  • Winter term classes will continue remotely and in alternative formats. Instructors and those supporting technology needed for remote delivery of courses should work remotely but can continue to utilize university and classroom resources to deliver remote instruction as needed.
  • We will continue to support students living on and near campus by providing essential on-site support.
  • Employees who can work from home will continue to do so.
  • The order will not significantly alter the university's research operations, as we moved last Friday to ramp down all noncritical laboratory research activities.

We’ve significantly reduced density on our campuses, work is happening differently, and we continue to fulfill our mission. This has happened quickly and professionally – and I cannot overstate my appreciation for your commitment.

For the duration of the governor’s executive order, I now ask everyone to explicitly implement the following:

  • All campus employees should work remotely unless your unit needs you on campus to maintain the work we’ve identified as critical to our mission, including in the delivery of courses remotely. I would encourage managers to identify work that could be reassigned and for employees to work with unit managers in identifying creative solutions and ideas. This does not apply to Michigan Medicine, which is developing its own guidelines based on the executive order and will communicate those soon.
  • Supervisors should continually evaluate their units’ operations, including finding appropriate ways to redeploy employees for supporting critical operations and/or tasks that can be performed remotely within their units.
  • There will be additional anxiety, questions and considerations as we seek to understand how the Stay Home, Stay Safe order affects us. I ask supervisors to communicate as quickly and thoroughly as possible, understanding that we are in a period that is virtually unprecedented in how it affects us as people.
  • Continue to stay home if sick, observe social distancing guidelines, and per the order, "all public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring among persons not part of a single household are prohibited."

Many employees are asking how they can help. Michigan Medicine has asked all who are able to consider donating blood.

We will continue to post updates, information and answers to frequently asked questions on our COVID-19 information website. The university has activated its emergency call center to assist those with COVID-19 questions specifically related to U-M responses. It is available Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at (877) 763-3040.

For medical related questions, please call your doctor. Michigan Medicine patients with questions about symptoms, home management or advice should call the Michigan Medicine COVID-19 hotline at 734-763-6336.

Update on spring and summer terms

Additionally, I am announcing that all spring and summer term courses at the University of Michigan’s three campuses will be conducted remotely in alternative formats. This decision aligns with our ongoing efforts to respond to the pandemic, by maintaining this critical part of our mission while encouraging social distancing.

In conjunction with our provost’s offices, I ask schools and colleges to prioritize offering programs and coursework that allows current students to keep working toward their degrees and not fall behind.

Schools and colleges will have the flexibility to cancel programs that they determine cannot be delivered with high quality in a remote format.

More details on this will be available today in the University Record.

Thank you

This has been a challenging time for everyone in our community. We’ve been affected personally – and tragically – by the spread of the virus. We’ve been asked to think and work differently, under considerable time pressures and growing stress.

We’ve also demonstrated our strength and resilience as students, faculty, staff and community members. While the COVID-19 pandemic has placed extraordinary demands on our university and its people, your response has exceeded the extraordinary.

Thank you for your dedication, your creativity and your support of one another and our mission as a public university.

Sincerely,

Mark S. Schlissel, M.D., Ph.D.
President

 

March 13, 2020, 1:50pm: Updates on finals, commencements, flexible work arrangements & additional COVID-19 announcements

To All Members of the U-M Community:

I am writing to share important University of Michigan updates related to the COVID-19 virus. I recognize the difficulties the outbreak has created for everyone, and appreciate the engagement and support we have seen within our community in recent weeks.

Today, I am announcing a set of changes to accomplish two important goals:

  • Further protect health and safety by minimizing the potential spread of the disease within our community and in the broader society.
  • Keep all university operations up and running.

More details are included below, and these actions apply to all three of our campuses:

  • All final exams will take place remotely in alternative formats.
  • All managers are encouraged to provide opportunities for employees to work remotely when possible, while keeping their units open for business.
  • Students who can do so are encouraged to move home as soon as possible.
  • All U-M commencement ceremonies are canceled. We will look at ways to celebrate 2020 graduates in the future.
  • Everyone is encouraged to avoid gathering socially in large groups.
  • We have launched a one-time paid time-off bank for employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.

All final exams will take place remotely in alternative formats

This essentially extends our previous action to prevent all classes from meeting in person. Faculty and instructors will communicate how this will be handled as soon as possible.

As a reminder, classes remain canceled today but will resume Monday, March 16, delivered remotely in alternative formats. The Ann Arbor Provost’s Office has additional information and resources on remote instruction on our Keep Teaching at U-M page.

Students will not be required to come to our campuses for instruction or exams for the remainder of this semester.

Encourage opportunities for employees to work remotely

I ask all managers to provide opportunities for employees to work remotely when possible while keeping their units open for business. This includes student employees. I recognize that not all work can be performed remotely, so I encourage flexibility and creativity. Michigan Medicine faculty and staff should refer to the telecommuting policy currently in place.

U-M is taking this action to reduce the density of people in physical spaces. This aligns with the general public health principles to diminish disease transmission and protect everyone in our communities, particularly the most vulnerable, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Employees who are sick need to stay home from work. All U-M employees who may be at greater risk should contact human resources in their school, college or unit or Staff Human Resources Services for assistance.

Please note that we are not currently moving to our “reduction in operations” protocols, and that we recognize that there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all plan that covers every U-M unit, given the size and complexity of our enterprise. This action to encourage working remotely will remain in effect until further notice, and we recognize there are additional challenges for many faculty and staff presented by the closure of K-12 schools.

The university’s Work-Life Resource Center has information to support flexible work options, and the Remote Resource Guide we created contains technology resources to assist employees who are able to work remotely. The Ann Arbor Provost’s Office has additional information on remote instruction on our Keep Teaching at U-M page. Our Office of Research also has created guidance so faculty and staff can best manage their ongoing research and scholarship activities.

To all employees, I very much appreciate your commitment to our university, students, parents, visitors and patients during the COVID-19 outbreak. The accounts of your dedication that I have heard are truly impressive, including supporting students, caring for patients, cleaning our buses and facilities, innovating to support our mission, or reaching out to support colleagues during a difficult time.

We are an excellent university because of the people who work here.

Students who can do so are encouraged to move home as soon as possible

The university encourages students to go home to their permanent residences if possible. At the same time, we are taking additional precautions across the university to protect health and safety for everyone who remains on our campuses, including those who may not be able to leave. These include restricting traffic flows, stepping up cleaning, and canceling events to prevent interactions in large groups.

U-M housing and dining operations, the University Health Service, and libraries will remain open to serve students who stay. We continue to urge everyone to practice social distancing of 5 to 6 feet when you are engaging with others.

We’ve received numerous questions regarding pro-rating housing, dining, and other various school/college fees and we are examining this issue. We also ask that as students confirm plans, please complete the survey here to indicate if you intend to leave campus or to remain.

Going home when possible will help to reduce the density of people in physical spaces. We recognize this may bring additional people to campus in the short term, but the reduction in density it will create over the next few weeks will help to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It further follows general public health principles recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

All U-M commencement ceremonies are canceled

We are canceling all Spring 2020 commencement activities across our three campuses. This includes both the large campuswide ceremonies and individual school, college and group recognition ceremonies. We know that this is very disappointing to many, and we are looking at ways to celebrate 2020 graduates in the future.

Avoid gathering socially in large groups

We need your help here, too. Gathering in large groups is not recommended – and this includes gathering socially. We strongly encourage you to limit interactions in groups this weekend and in celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. Reducing the density of people in physical spaces will help to prevent the spread of disease not just within our community but for society at large.

Even in small groups, we strongly recommend practicing social distancing.

These actions are based on general public health principles recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. They are designed to protect everyone in our communities, particularly those at higher risk from COVID-19.

One-time paid time off bank for employees during the COVID-19 pandemic

To further minimize the impact of COVID-19, the university has established a one-time paid time off bank related to the pandemic.

Effective immediately, employees are eligible for up to 80 hours of paid time off to be used in the case of quarantine, isolation or family care needs related to COVID-19 exposure, illness or other related scenario or a temporary lack of work. This is a one-time bank of paid time off for use during the current pandemic.

This one-time bank applies to faculty and staff on all campuses and in Michigan Medicine. Part-time and temporary employees, including student temporary staff, will be eligible for a prorated amount of time.

More details about the policy and how to access this bank of time will soon be available on the University Human Resources website and from your appropriate human resources office.

Additional updates

  • The Washtenaw County Public Health Department has confirmed to the University of Michigan that a member of our community has tested positive for COVID-19. The individual who tested positive is self-isolating in Ann Arbor.
  • The university has activated its emergency call center to assist those with COVID-19 questions specifically related to U-M responses. It will be available Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. at (877) 763-3040.
  • The National Institutes of Health has made two announcements that may assist our research programs. The first allows institutions to apply for immediate financial support to assist with research operations during COVID-19. The second is NIH’s disaster policy, which allows latitude in items such as application deadlines, quarterly updates, adaptations in clinical trial protocols and staffing changes. We will post further details on the UMOR COVID-19 site.
  • UMOR is announcing new restrictions for human subjects research in an effort to minimize the risk of contracting or spreading the virus, and also to preserve personal protective equipment for clinical care. Learn more at research.umich.edu/covid-19.

There are everyday actions we can all take to help prevent the spread of all respiratory viruses:

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Consider alternatives to shaking hands.
  • Unless you are sick with cough, sneezing and fever, it is not advised to wear a mask.

Our health professionals are monitoring the spread of the virus and working closely with public health officials at the federal, state and local levels to protect health and safety. We will continue to post the latest information to our COVID-19 information page and I and other leaders will provide updates going forward.

I again want to thank all of you for your diligence during these recent weeks. The rapidly changing situation due to the COVID-19 virus has created challenges across the breadth of our university, and I know that it has affected the work and personal lives of our students, faculty and staff.

Sincerely,

Mark S. Schlissel, M.D., Ph.D.
President

 

Announcement made 3/11 at 3:40pm: COVID-19 update on U-M classes, travel, study abroad and events

To All Members of the U-M Community:

University of Michigan health professionals have been closely monitoring the spread of COVID-19 over the past two months. 

Our goals are to deliver on our mission while protecting health and safety by minimizing the potential spread of the disease, both within our community and in the broader society. The changes we are announcing today follow the general public health principle of limiting the interaction of people within larger groups to diminish disease transmission and protect everyone in our communities, particularly the most vulnerable. 

Today, we are announcing new universitywide measures based on public health principles and the latest information and assessments for our community. 

We will also continue to post all updates to our COVID-19 information page, as we monitor this rapidly changing situation in real time. 

Most university operations will remain unchanged, with four exceptions that take effect Thursday, March 12, for all three of our campuses:

We are canceling all classes tomorrow and Friday. Classes will resume Monday (March 16) delivered remotely in alternative formats – and not meeting in person – through April 21, the last day of classes this semester. 

Faculty and instructors should let students know how this transition will be handled for each of their classes. The two days of cancellations give faculty time to transition to alternative formats. The provost’s offices on each of our campuses have been making arrangements in our schools and colleges to facilitate these transitions. 

We are canceling all U-M events and events organized by others on our campuses that would convene 100 people or more from Thursday, March 12 until at least April 21. 

This cancellation includes Honors Convocation on March 15. Organizers of other large events may seek to conduct their event virtually. We ask organizers to inform their audiences and participants of changes as soon as possible. The University will endeavor to reschedule any affected third-party events as practical. Individual units may change smaller events at their discretion, and all may consider virtual options. 

Michigan Athletics is working to limit spectators at its on-campus competitions to parents and media to avoid high-density audiences. We encourage students to limit large social gatherings. 

We are continuing to monitor the impact of the virus and will provide updates on major end-of-semester events, including commencements, when more information is available. 

We are suspending all U-M international travel until at least April 21, with rare exceptions requiring approval. Domestic travel for university business is strongly discouraged. 

Rare exceptions for international travel deemed essential may be granted if approved by a designated administrator. We encourage domestic travelers to seek virtual methods of convening for university business. The university also discourages personal domestic and international travel. 

All U-M education abroad programs will be altered or suspended. 

COVID-19 is becoming frequent in many places, and we want to be sure our students can get medical care that meets their needs, as more countries’ health care systems are facing greater pressure. Students in each education abroad program will have unique needs and considerations as we make plans to bring them home. We are working through those, including safety, location, ability to travel, and disruption to academic progress. We will work with the students to assist them with arrangements and academic accommodations, including credit for their coursework. 

We are also canceling U-M education abroad programs scheduled for the spring semester, and will decide about programs that start July 1 or thereafter in the coming weeks when we have better information. This follows previous cancellation of all university-related travel to and education abroad programs in countries with a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Level 3 Travel Warning. Level 3 countries currently include: China, South Korea, Iran and Italy. We continue to closely monitor conditions overseas. 

The actions we are taking follow recommendations from health and safety professionals working on all three of our campuses and at Michigan Medicine. Their work has been ongoing for several weeks in close coordination with public health officials at the federal, state and local levels, along with other universities. 

Last night, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced that there are two presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in the state of Michigan, one of whom is being treated at Michigan Medicine. We fully agree with her in urging everyone to follow public health guidelines listed below for preventing the spread of viruses. 

Additionally, our COVID-19 information page has specific guidance developed by our health professionals for individuals who have traveled to areas affected by the virus. That information is available here

We ask managers and supervisors to continue to encourage employees who are sick to stay home from work. Additional precautions are in place in Michigan Medicine to protect employees from risks associated with caring for patients. All U-M employees who may be at greater risk should contact human resources in their school, college or unit or Staff Human Resources Services.

Steps to promote a healthy community

There are everyday actions to help prevent the spread of all respiratory viruses:

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Consider alternatives to shaking hands.
  • Unless you are sick with cough, sneezing and fever, it is not advised to wear a mask.

 

Additional actions and resources

The university remains open:

  • For students who choose to remain on campus, Michigan Dining and U-M Housing will remain operational. We are working to make changes to minimize risk for students in our dining halls.  
  • The Office of the Vice President for Research has partnered with teams across campus to develop a guidance document with information and resources so faculty and staff can best manage their ongoing research and scholarship activities. Please refer back to this webpage frequently for evolving guidance on your research operations. research.umich.edu/covid-19
  • During spring break, the University Health Service on the Ann Arbor campus implemented changes to manage traffic through the building and maintain an environment as safe as possible. This work frees up additional capacity to see patients needing treatment for respiratory symptoms. 
  • Michigan Medicine is prepared to care for patients diagnosed with COVID-19, putting protections in place for patients and employees. They have activated our emergency response protocols, proactively ordered supplies and initiated plans for handling potential patients. 
  • We have created a Remote Resources Guide to assist students, faculty and staff with working or engaging remotely, and the Ann Arbor Provost’s Office has additional information on remote instruction.
  • We have heard concerns from members of our community who have chronic health conditions, and will work to assist with accommodations for classes or work arrangements. Students needing additional assistance should contact the Dean of Students office, and employees should contact their unit supervisor. 

We thank the many students, faculty and staff who have been working with us during the COVID-19 outbreak. We know there are many questions and concerns as the situation continues to change rapidly and will continue to post the latest information to our COVID-19 information page. The page also includes frequently asked questions, definitions of key terms, and additional resources and information for the U-M community.

Viruses like COVID-19 affect all of us, and we appreciate everyone’s efforts to support one another, promote a healthy community, and stay up to date on the latest information from our health professionals. 

Sincerely,

 

Mark S. Schlissel, M.D., Ph.D.
President

Preeti Malani, M.D.
U-M Chief Health Officer
Professor of Medicine