May 14, 2021
To all members of the U-M Community:
Congratulations to all the families who celebrated a University of Michigan graduation in 2021! We experienced a joyful commencement season on all of our campuses, in spite of COVID-19 restrictions. I wish the Class of 2021 all the best.
Our final regularly scheduled COVID-19 campus briefing of the spring will be Friday, May 21. In the future, we’ll schedule briefings as needed, and will be sure to send out invitations in advance. We’ve very much appreciated the opportunity to answer your questions and share information during the briefings.
Updated face covering policy and campus COVID-19 update
Although the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services have changed their face covering guidance for those who are fully vaccinated, U-M’s policy will remain unchanged for now. We are evaluating the changes and will provide more information about bringing campus practices into alignment with state guidance in the coming days. I encourage everyone to view these changes in federal and state guidance as yet another reason to be vaccinated.
We recently updated the U-M face covering policy to allow people to be unmasked outdoors in groups of under 100 people. This applies to all University property, and at this time, this policy still applies to those that are fully vaccinated. Anyone indoors on our campuses must continue to wear a face covering with the same exceptions as before. Exemptions from the indoor face covering requirement include when you are in a single enclosed private office with the door closed, in your assigned residence hall room/suite or apartment, or eating or drinking but still maintaining social distance.
Washtenaw County has one of the highest vaccination rates in the state at more than 63 percent, and more than 11,000 students have reported their vaccination information to U-M. Fully vaccinated students are exempt from mandatory testing requirements for spring/summer terms. We also have updated the asymptomatic COVID-19 testing locations and hours as demand has decreased significantly with the end of the winter term.
Michigan Medicine has published information on “what parents can expect with vaccine rollouts among adolescents and younger children” and is scheduling COVID-19 vaccine appointments for any individuals 12 years of age and older. They do not have to be a Michigan Medicine patient. Scheduling information is available here.
People who have had a positive COVID-19 test can be vaccinated once they have recovered from their illness and have met the criteria for discontinuing isolation. This guidance also applies to people who get COVID-19 before getting their second dose of vaccine.
Visit the Maize and Blueprint vaccine page for the latest information and to sign up. Vaccinated students are encouraged to report their vaccination information via Wolverine Access. Remember, vaccination is completely free.
All students should self-report their vaccination information following their final dose. This will help us return more quickly to greater in-person activities, and verified vaccination status will exempt students from weekly mandatory virus testing and potential quarantine requirements and may allow for eligibility for other special benefits, in addition to protection from a potentially serious illness.
During the May 7 Campus COVID-19 Briefing, I addressed the question of “how can I feel safe in the classroom when all students may not be vaccinated?” This is an important concern in our community, and Dr. Rob Ernst also shared what we’ve learned after two semesters of not seeing virus transmission in our classroom when masks are worn.
As all U-M faculty, staff, and students who signed up for a vaccine via our Blue Queue system have been invited to make an appointment, we are discontinuing Blue Queue May 21. Our Campus Maize and Blueprint vaccine page will continue to have information on how to get a vaccine.
Campus COVID-19 briefing: May 7
- Chief Health Officer Preeti Malani and Rob Ernst, chair of the Campus Health Response Committee, discussed campus conditions and important reminders and recommendations for our community.
- Provost Susan M. Collins, Vice President for Student Life Martino Harmon, and I discussed our approach to returning to more in-person work on campus. Associate Vice President for Human Resources Rich Holcomb shared UHR’s plans for assisting schools, colleges, and units with their return to campus planning. Decisions about returning to campus will be made at the unit level.
- Janell Kilgore, a counselor in our Faculty and Staff Counseling and Consultation Office; Dr. Malani, and Vice President Harmon discussed Mental Health Month and some of the resources and activities being offered by the University. The resources mentioned during this session are posted on the briefing page.
- Ann Arbor campus faculty and staff who have been working remotely through the COVID-19 pandemic will begin a gradual return to more on-site work in the coming months at the direction of their units’ leaders as the University prepares to welcome students to campus for the fall term. Employees should look to their supervisor or department leader for specific requirements for on-site work or a combination (hybrid) of on-site and remote work and the process for assessing return-to-work needs. With adequate and convenient access to vaccination, expectations around on-site and hybrid work will focus primarily on the nature of the work and how it can be accomplished to fulfill the University’s mission. Most fall classes will be offered in person.
- The U-M Library is preparing for greater in-person learning, teaching, and research in the fall. The University Record published an update on library changes, including the recommendation that faculty who intend to submit requests for fall course materials should do so as soon as possible.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that “there is currently no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems.” To gather more data, the CDC established a voluntary COVID-19 Vaccine Pregnancy Registry.
- Our Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation (IHPI) hosted a virtual conversation between Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent, and Dr. Preeti Malani, U-M chief health officer and IHPI member, focusing on the challenges of communicating evidence-based scientific information during a worldwide health crisis.
- I will continue to provide weekly COVID-19 updates through May to help keep everyone informed, address concerns, and respond to feedback and questions from our community. After that, I’ll send updates as needed.
- Michigan Medicine leaders have scheduled virtual town halls once per month for the remainder of the calendar year.
You may also read the University Record for the latest stories and the Campus Maize and Blueprint site for updates. Stay safe and be healthy.
Mark S. Schlissel, MD, PhD
(Lead image: Mark Schlissel prepares to address the Class of 2021 at Spring Commencement. Image: Michigan Phot0graphy.)