U announces COVID-19 symptom app, testing practices and more updates as it gears up for fall semester
On Monday morning, Martino Harmon, University of Michigan vice president of student life, and University Medical Director Robert Ernst announced several updates for the fall semester. In June, University President Mark Schlissel announced plans for an in-residence, hybrid format fall semester; this differs from other universities as schools like University of California Berkeley have revised their initial decision and will begin with remote instruction.
While COVID-19 cases are rising around the country, including 12 new cases reported on campus that halted athletic practices for several sports last week, the University provided updates about its plans to mitigate the virus this fall. The email emphasizes a “Wolverine Culture of Care” to promote best practices as the University prepares for students to return.
The email states all students must self-quarantine before returning to campus, regardless of their plans to move into on or off-campus housing.
“All U-M students who do decide to return to campus must observe a 14-day period of enhanced social distance at home before arriving in Ann Arbor or on campus,” the email reads. “It is an important part of our strategy to minimize risk and keep COVID-19 out of our community.”
For international students, the isolation requirements are more stringent and require students to observe a 14-day period of self-quarantine after arrival on campus. The email emphasized the importance of observing this period even if it conflicts with the start of classes.
“For students arriving on campus directly from international locations, your 14-day period of enhanced social distancing begins when you arrive, and can be done in your residence on- or off-campus,” the email reads. “Depending on your arrival date, this 14-day period may overlap with the start of classes and you are expected not to go to (in-person) class until your 14-day period is complete. It is important that you communicate with your instructor(s) directly to determine appropriate academic adjustments during this 14-day period.”
The University will also be sending a COVID-19 learning module about the virus, its symptoms and best practices for staying safe amid the pandemic. The module will be emailed to students and will be available in the coming weeks.
Students will also be required to be tested for the virus using self-administered tests that will be covered by the University. All students living in University housing will receive updates about how to receive and return the tests in the coming weeks, however the email did not mention how people off campus will be tested.
“Students moving into U-M Housing (residence halls and apartments) are expected to be tested for the virus that causes COVID-19 - and cleared – prior to their arrival in Ann Arbor,” the email read. “U-M is partnering with Quest Diagnostics to provide testing kits, at no additional cost, directly to students for you to self-administer and then mail back to Quest for analysis.”
The email also stated that the University administration is working with the University Health Service and Environment, Health and Safety department and local officials for contact tracing and isolation if a student contracts the virus while on campus.
“We are building a robust plan for evaluation of students with suspected symptoms of COVID-19, including testing when indicated, through University Health Services. U-M’s Environment, Health and Safety department will continue to work closely with local public health officials to perform contact tracing for all infected students as has occurred throughout the pandemic,” the email read. “We also will have support and space, both on and off campus, available for any student that develops symptoms or tests positive, and needs to quarantine or isolate safely. This includes meal delivery.”
According to the email, the University plans to release the app ResponsiBLUE as a daily symptom checker for students to self assess their health and COVID-19 symptoms.
The email concluded asking members of the University community to work together to help public health.
“Please join us in promoting our culture of care that supports the health and wellbeing of the entire U-M – this is our collective responsibility and we all must do our part.”
Summer News Editor Sarah Payne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org