Campus COVID-19 Briefings

January 14, 2022

President Schlissel welcomed the community to the Briefing and led a discussion with Dr. Rob Ernst, a physician who leads U-M’s Campus Health Response Committee, and Dr. Preeti Malani, U-M’s chief health officer and a Michigan Medicine physician.

The discussion included:

  • 01:12 Campus, county and state COVID-19 conditions to help make sense of the numbers.
  • 06:41 In addition to your leadership and advisory responsibilities, both of you continue to treat patients, either at UHS or at Michigan Medicine. You are both Internal Medicine professors, and one of Dr. Malani’s specialties is in infectious diseases. Can you share what kind of symptoms you’re seeing in those with COVID-19?
  • 10:18 We’ve been getting a lot of questions related to masking. There’s some confusion and conflicting information from different sources. Can you share your thoughts and make recommendations for the safety of our community?
  • 14:55 We’ve heard objections to our booster requirement, with some saying they are not needed. Can you discuss the rationale for requiring boosters in our community?
  • 18:24. Can you explain the latest quarantine and isolation guidelines? Students and employees are expressing confusion.

Provost Susan M. Collins answered questions:

  • 21:59 Can you explain what was meant when you said: “[We] also recognize that in some cases, absences of instructors or large numbers of students due to illness and quarantine and isolation may temporarily warrant remote teaching.”?
  • 25:56 I am getting a lot of questions from faculty who wish to travel domestically with students, and find that the information online is mostly about international travel. Does the University have a stance on who should be approving travel in each department?
  • 29:22 Can you change the grading policy for winter term?

Vice President for Student Life Martino Harmon addressed misinformation on quarantine and isolation housing and answered questions:

  • 34:29 What is the true status of quarantine and isolation housing? We are getting mixed messages on if they are at capacity.
  • 36:38 Why did some students not move into Q/I housing immediately after testing positive for COVID-19?
  • 39:18 Do students in Q/I have to quarantine alone or can they share a space with another student?

Jeff Desmond, Chief Medical Officer for Michigan Medicine and an emergency medicine physician, discussed:

  • 41:04 Why are there so many patients with COVID-19 at U-M’s hospital and what do we know about the Omicron variant?
  • 46:15 Why did Michigan Medicine implement new restrictions on visits this week?

Associate Vice President for Human Resources Rich Holcomb addressed:

  • 49:12 What does the Supreme Court’s ruling Thursday on the CMS and OSHA (vaccine) requirements mean for employees?
  • 50:09 I’ve heard confusion over (1) how to submit updated vax cards and (2) questions from those who aren’t due for a booster until after Feb 4.
  • 52:58 How will we get reimbursement for rapid tests as required by the new federal policy taking effect on Saturday?

The leaders answered the following questions from the community:

  • 55:16 Why aren’t we going back to remote courses?
  • 59:00 Why is the president saying that” the ship has sailed” with “the idea of preventing people from getting infected with COVID” while Michigan Medicine’s director of infection control said “now is not the time to get infected because you believe it is inevitable” and while Michigan Medicine is facing a crisis point and is pleading with people online to take measures to slow the spread? Do you communicate with Michigan Medicine when making public health decisions for the campus community?


01:14 President Schlissel began the briefing and led a discussion on current COVID-19 conditions, influenza, and statewide context. The leaders also discussed the lack of spread stemming from football games and U-M’s indoor face covering requirement.

Joining him were Rob Ernst, Preeti Malani and Emily Martin. Dr. Ernst is a physician who leads our Campus Health Response Committee and is associate vice president of student life for health and wellness and executive director of the University Health Service. Dr. Malani is U-M’s chief health officer and a Michigan Medicine physician. Dr. Martin is an associate professor of epidemiology in our School of Public Health and member of our Campus Health Response Committee.

13:56 Provost Susan M. Collins discussed what faculty and students can expect during the upcoming winter term and options for study spaces as finals get closer and the outdoor tents have been removed.

24:44 Vice President for Student Life Martino Harmon discussed how students can get more engaged in learning experiences outside the classroom, resources available to help students adjust to the recent time change with Daylight Savings and the decreasing temperatures, and requirements for students planning to live in residence halls for the winter term.

34:14 Dr. Malani and Dr. Martin discussed the importance of travel safety and options for testing in the U-M community.

37:14 Chief International Safety Officer Patrick Morgan and Judith Pennywell, director of U-M’s International Center, discussed what to keep in mind for international travel and information about returning to the U.S. for international students.

The resources they mentioned are:

  • Entry and Exit Requirements related to COVID-19, including testing
      1. U.S. Department of State Country Specific COVID-19 Entry Information
  • Resources for U-M Related Travel Requirements
      1. Campus Blueprint Travel FAQ and FAQ
  • Resources for International Students and Scholars
  • Resources for International Employees

The leaders answered the following questions from the community:

  • 48:10 Is the university encouraging people to get booster shots?
  • 51:20 Can the University reconsider their grading policy and allow for any class to be taken pass-fail this semester, even in the major?
  • 54:18 Why does the COVID-19 dashboard only update Wednesday through Sunday?
  • 55:38 Why is natural immunity being ignored?
  • 56:50 What are the updated guidelines for student groups that wish to have in-person speakers next semester?
  • 58:10 Fully vaccinated people on campus are still contracting coronavirus. Studies show they can still transmit it, why are they not required to test weekly?

October 8, 2021

00:00 President Schlissel began and led a discussion on the current campus conditions and COVID-19 testing recommendations and resources as community members travel in the weeks and months ahead.

Joining him were Rob Ernst and Emily Martin. Dr. Ernst is a physician who leads our Campus Health Response Committee and is associate vice president of student life for health and wellness and executive director of the University Health Service. Dr. Martin is an associate professor of epidemiology in our School of Public Health and member of our Campus Health Response Committee.

06:53 Provost Susan M. Collins discussed the success of the university’s vaccine incentive efforts, international students, and student spaces for studying and participating in remote classes and meetings.

14:17 Vice President for Student Life Martino Harmon discussed transparency concerns about residence hall case data, student engagement as the weather gets colder, the student experience on campus and Parents and Family Weekend.

21:50 Marisa Eisenberg and Emily Martin discussed data on wastewater (sewage) monitoring from campus and near-campus areas, one of the layers we are employing to protect health and safety. Dr. Eisenberg is an associate professor of epidemiology in SPH, an associate professor of mathematics and of complex systems in the College of Literature, Science and the Arts, interim director of the Center for the Study of Complex Systems, and an expert consultant to the CHRC.

28:02 Adam Lauring, an associate professor of internal medicine and of microbiology and immunology in the Medical School, and of ecology and evolutionary biology in LSA, discussed his paper, “Genomic Surveillance Reveals Little Spread Between a Large University Campus and the Surrounding Community.”

33:14 Katrina Wade Golden, deputy chief diversity officer and director of implementation for the Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, discussed the upcoming Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Summit, which has the theme “Parallel Pandemics: Addressing Structural Racism in the Age of COVID-19.”

The leaders answered additional questions from the community:

39:43 What is the current status and recommendation for the booster shot for U-M Students, Faculty and Staff?

42:15 What is Student Life doing to alleviate the impacts of the student employee labor shortage?

44:06 Have there been discussions of getting rid of the indoor mask requirement with so many U-M community members vaccinated?

46:04 Could you please inform us whether or not there are specific guidelines currently in place designed to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 pertaining to serving food/meals at events hosted by all departments and units across the University? Should we only serve boxed lunches to go, wrapped snacks, etc.? [The EHS information President Schlissel referenced is here.]

47:14 Is the CDC or anyone else tracking how many breakthrough infections are happening?

49:48 Can you explain the procedure when a religious exemption to the vaccination requirement is denied?

51:52 I received a bill for a test at UHS. What should I do?

53:00 Can you discuss research that demonstrates that the vaccination is creating lower transmission rates?

56:35 Is wastewater monitoring always being done for other diseases?

Answers to additional questions

What outreach is being offered to first-year students living in Michigan Housing?

Individual outreach by RAs to their residents has always been the cornerstone of the Housing experience, and is one of our expectations. Since connecting to campus looks different for every student, Housing residents have access to multiple resources in addition to their RAs including their community’s Diversity Peer Educator, programming through the First Year Experience, and events organized by their own neighbors through their hall council. If you have questions about programming and engagement available to your particular student, please get in touch with Michigan Housing at

My symptoms started before my test date. Can I return to campus on day nine after the test date if my symptoms subside?

No, if you test positive for COVID-19, you must follow CDC guidelines to complete the isolation process starting from your test date. Stay home until after:

  • 10 days have passed since you had a positive viral test for COVID-19 and
  • At least 24 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
  • Symptoms have improved.


September 10, 2021

00:00 President Schlissel began the briefing and noted discussions would focus significantly on the current conditions on our campus, in the context of public health, and how some of our foremost experts are thinking about campus life now and going forward.

The Campus Health Response Committee roster is here.

He emphasized that we know that the vaccines offer strong protection from infection and severe illness. He discussed a Los Angeles County analysis that showed that the rate of infection is 5 times lower for the vaccinated, and the hospitalization rate is 29 times lower.

06:05 The President led a discussion with Rob Ernst and Preeti Malani. Dr. Ernst is a physician who leads our Campus Health Response Committee and is associate vice president of student life for health and wellness and executive director of the university health service. Dr. Malani is a physician and U-M’s chief health officer. They discussed the case numbers were seeing on campus, what we currently know about spread in our community, the severity of illness, and what we know about breakthrough infections.

Dr. Ernst and Dr. Malani then answered questions the following questions:

17:20 What do we know about severity and symptoms on campus and how does it compare to last year?

18:52 If a student isn’t sure about being vaccinated, what can they do?

19:57 We’ve heard concerns about availability of testing last weekend. Can you discuss?

21:34 When will the booster shot be available?

22:30 Can you provide insights on the numbers we’re seeing in quarantine and isolation housing?

23:56 Emily Martin, associate professor of epidemiology and member of our Campus Health Response Committee discussed the new Campus Response Metrics and where we are at as a community.

28:26 Provost Susan M. Collins discussed U-M’s research enterprise, provided an update on the situation for our international students, and how we are helping students, faculty and staff transition back to campus.

35:21 Vice President for Student Life Martino Harmon discussed student safety, responsibility and fun during the night football game and activities students can do instead of going to the game.

The leaders answered questions from the community:

42:52 Why doesn’t the mask requirement extend to large outdoor events, like football games?

44:45 Is the university currently considering shifting classes to remote modalities?

47:42 Can you share your impressions of how students are responding to the first two weeks?

49:34 How is COVID classroom case investigation conducted. How can you be sure you are not placing students under quarantine who shouldn’t be?

52:00 What is the university doing to ensure there are no fake vaccination record submissions?

54:28 What are you doing about student who do not get tested through U-M and have positive cases? Do the students know that they need to report their status to U-M? What’s stopping them from continuing to participate in class and other social activities?

56:24 If students have are sick but have tested negative for COVID, what do they do?

58:08 What can be done when your coworkers continue to disregard the mask requirements? I’ve reported to my supervisor already.

Answers to additional questions


How long are the medical and religious exemptions valid for and will you be able to renew either?

Approved religious exemptions do not expire and there is no need to resubmit a request. For individuals with an approved medical exemption, there are a few situations in which the exemption expires. These individuals have been notified of the respective timeframes. Those with approved temporary postponements have been notified of the respective timeframes. These postponements are time limited.

What percent of cases on campus are vaccinated students? The majority of positive cases on campus are in the vaccinated population. This is to be expected with a highly vaccinated campus population.



How often is the U-M COVID-19 dashboard updated?

Data is refreshed daily as it becomes available from the state, county, and other verifiable data sources. Additional information about the data can be found here.

Weekly COVID-19 dashboard narratives are posted on Tuesdays with additional updates shared as needed. Data may fluctuate and is for the Ann Arbor campus only.

Are students, faculty and staff COVID-19 tests outside of the U-M system being counted for in the COVID-19 dashboard?

The U-M COVID-19 dashboard presents data from several sources: U-M’s Community Sampling and Tracking Program, University Health Service and Occupational Health Services. Outside lab tests of U-M affiliated people are eventually reported through the county health department. Cases among U-M individuals who are tested at locations outside of U-M are reported to us by the Washtenaw County Health Department through the Michigan Disease Surveillance System. These reports occur after case investigation has begun. These dashboard postings may be delayed or uneven due to the reporting patterns of laboratories that are outside of our campus. However, WCHD and U-M case investigators are notified immediately for follow-up, separately from the dashboard, whenever these cases occur. Additional information about the data can be found here.



If students are sick but have tested negative for COVID-19, what do they do?

If students are having symptoms, contact the University Health Services by scheduling an appointment over the phone or through the patient portal. The student should remain home from school or work until fever-free for 24 hours without use of medication and symptoms have improved. Students are encouraged to stay home from all activities if they are sick. Information on understanding what happens when a student is diagnosed with COVID-19, identified as a close contact, or has symptoms of an upper respiratory infection can be found here.

Do the CSTP tests tell the difference between influenza, SARs-COV2, or any of the variants?

No. CSTP provides a saliva-based RT-qPCR test to participants. More information about what type of test CSTP provides can be found here.



Will the indoor mask mandate continue throughout the fall term?

In light of high case transmission due to the Delta variant, the university face covering policy remains in place. The policy requires the use of face coverings while in a campus building in most situations or on campus transportation by all individuals, regardless of vaccination status. Information on the policy can be found here.

Whose job is it to enforce the face covering policy inside campus buildings?

The entire community is responsible for maintaining a healthy environment on campus. The University of Michigan requires all students, staff, faculty and visitors to wear a face covering that covers the mouth and nose anywhere on U-M property (including the Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses, as well as properties off campus). U-M community members can address non-compliance with the U-M face covering policy in the following ways found here.

In a shared office space, should we be wearing masks even when no one else is there?

Yes. All students, staff, faculty, and visitors are required to wear a face covering that covers the mouth and nose at all times when indoors on university property, including all three campuses, Michigan Medicine and other university-occupied properties. Face coverings are also required on U-M transportation. Exception to this is if the person is in an office space alone and can close the door.



When should I get the flu vaccine this year?

The best time is as soon as it is available, because protection develops about 2 weeks after vaccination. Flu is typically seasonal, appearing December through March in Michigan. A flu shot is needed each year before the winter season because flu strains vary from year to year.

Flu vaccination is highly recommended and is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic to protect the recipient and others from flu.

  • Faculty and staff flu shot information can be found here.
  • Student flu shot information can be found here.

What resources are available on “long COVID-19”?

Recovering from COVID-19 can have persistent physical, emotional, financial and academic impacts. Please consult with UHS, CAPS, or the Dean of Students Office for support and assistance, including connections with other available resources, if you are struggling in any way due to COVID. More information on post-COVID-19 care can be found here.

What COVID-19 resources and protocols are available to Fraternity and Society Life?

Fraternity & Sorority Life is committed to supporting students and partners in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The university has regular ongoing communications with affiliated chapters to address the needs of the students.

Prior to the start of the academic year, FSL and several campus officials hosted a training with affiliated fraternity and sorority chapter leadership on safety around social events for the year. In addition, Student Life also met with chapter advisors, house corporation board volunteers and staff, house directors and other stakeholders to discuss guidance for the year and answer any questions.

Additional information on FSL COVID-19 resources and information can be found here.



What is the university doing to make football games safe at the Michigan Stadium?

The university is working closely with medical experts, state and local governments, as well as with the Campus Health Response Committee to provide in-person fall experiences and resume cautiously back to a normal life. With the surrounding community highly vaccinated, including U-M students, faculty and staff, fans are back in the stands at Michigan Stadium. In addition to outdoor activities having a lower risk of transmission, the following safety measures are currently in place at Michigan Stadium to protect the community:

  • Fans are required to wear a face covering when inside restrooms and The M Den stores, regardless of vaccination status and are encouraged in outdoor areas.
  • All employees in the Big House are wearing face coverings.
  • Suite owners will be encouraged to open windows.
  • All concession locations around the stadium concourse are cashless this year.

The university will monitor and track things closely and see if the situation changes and will be prepared to make changes.



August 27, 2021

00:00 President Schlissel began and summarized the developments that informed fall planning.

02:54 The President led a discussion with Rob Ernst and Preeti Malani. Dr. Ernst is a physician who leads our Campus Health Response Committee and is associate vice president of student life for health and wellness and ​executive director of the university health service. Dr. Malani is a physician and U-M’s chief health officer. They addressed the following topics: How do you think about the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic? Where are we now? How safe will our classrooms be? Will anything be much different next year?

06:41 Dr. Ernst and Dr. Malani then answered questions about U-M’s layered approach to health and safety and addressed questions about quarantine plans for students coming to Ann Arbor, social distancing, and the vaccination requirement exemption process.

16:40 Provost Susan M. Collins answered questions about how decisions were made about class formats, what instructors should do if students don’t mask, when instructors will be provided with information about student vaccination status, and what grading will be like for this academic year.

23:43 Vice President for Student Life Martino Harmon answered questions about events for students to find community, second-year focused events, how Student Life is enforcing the vaccine requirement, and the face covering policy during Move-In and throughout the semester.

33:05 Associate Vice President for Human Resources Rich Holcomb answered questions about the disciplinary actions for those who don’t get the vaccine?

36:23 Associate Professor of Epidemiology Emily Martin answered questions on vaccine effectiveness and breakthrough cases, updating the campus response metrics, the outlook for the fall term and the wastewater monitoring program. The statewide and regional data Prof. Martin referred to is hereSee 8/31 update on metrics in Q&A below.

The leaders answered questions from the community:

45:55 Can you provide information on ventilation in classrooms? 8/31 update: Additional details from Environment, Health and Safety are available here.

48:47 A friend is resisting vaccination because of not trusting large pharmaceutical companies. Do you have any suggestions on how to respond?

50:07 What is the procedure for in person classes if a student in that class tests positive for COVID-19?

52:25 Michigan Medicine has issued guidance that there should be a pause in returning to the office on 9/13 due to Covid, is the University planning on issuing the same guidance?

53:26 How will potential new guidelines about vaccine boosters be handled as policy and operational matters?

55:08 How do you plan to work with individuals who were denied for a vaccine exemption, but still strongly believe that they are unable to receive the vaccine, given that there is no appeal process for denials?

56:13 How many Quarantine housing spaces are available and what is the rationale for having fewer this year?

57:31 What leave times are still available to staff/faculty if they need time off due to COVID-19 (testing postive, needing to provide care, or providing childcare due to quarantine or school going remote)? The resources AVP Holcomb referred to is available here

Answers to additional questions


Why is natural immunity not a stronger consideration for those who have already had COVID-19?

Experts do not yet know how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. In addition, immunity as a result of infection (natural immunity) may only provide protection from the particular variant you were infected with, not from other strains. Even if you have already recovered from COVID-19, it is possible that you could become infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 again. Studies have shown that vaccination provides a strong boost in protection in people who have recovered from COVID-19. This information can be found here.

Can I ask someone their vaccination status?

There is no need for the U-M community to ask other members of the U-M community their vaccination status because being vaccinated or receiving an exemption or postponement is required under the U-M COVID-19 Vaccination Policy. Supervisors may be required to ask about vaccination status if reporting data show an employee has not submitted vaccination information or requested an exemption or extension.  More information can be found here.

How are self reports of vaccination verified to detect fraudulent reports?

Each submission is reviewed for completeness and cross checked against affiliation. The Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities prohibits “Making, possessing, or using any falsified university document or record; altering any university document or record, including identification cards and meal cards.” Producing, providing and/or presenting a falsified vaccination card or a screenshot of the ResponsiBLUE app would violate this expectation and is prohibited. This information can be found here.

Can people who received Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen (J&J/Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine get a booster dose of an mRNA vaccine?

According to the CDC website, there isn’t enough data currently to support getting an mRNA vaccine dose (either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) if someone has previously gotten a J&J/Janssen vaccine. People who got the J&J/Janssen vaccine will likely need a booster dose of the J&J/Janssen vaccine, and more data are expected in the coming weeks. With those data in hand, CDC will keep the public informed with a timely plan for J&J/Janssen booster shots.



Do fully remote students have to participate in weekly mandatory COVID-19 testing?

While the weekly testing requirement for unvaccinated students remains in place, those individuals who  are in fully remote situations are not required to test weekly, but it is expected that they be tested within the previous week if they come to campus for any reason. ResponsiBLUE will track compliance with weekly testing for all students and employees who are unvaccinated, even those usually in a fully remote arrangement.

I work exclusively from home. Do I still need to comply with the face covering policy, weekly testing and daily symptom check?

Unvaccinated employees working 100% remotely without an exemption or temporary postponement are still subject to enforcement steps one (verbal warning) and two (discipline letter including loss of merit increase for 2022, two-day unpaid disciplinary layoff, and restrictions on university-funded travel and professional development).

However, employees who do not come to campus or would not in the course of their job have in-person contacts, are exempt from the weekly testing requirement. More information can be found here.



Can instructors take their face covering off to deliver the lecture?

The university requires all students, staff, faculty and visitors to wear a face covering that covers the mouth and nose anywhere on U-M property (including the Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses, as well as properties off campus). This includes when inside buildings and classrooms. As exceptions to the above, instances where an individual is not required to wear a face covering indoors are when that individual is: involved in an activity, including certain types of instruction, where wearing a face covering may present an impediment to instruction or present a safety hazard provided that a risk assessment is performed and reviewed by U-M EHS. If approved for this exception, instructors must continue to maintain a physical distance of twelve feet from others. More information on the policy can be found here.


U-M as updated the set of COVID-19 Campus Response Metrics it will closely monitor to help determine whether “more intensive local or campuswide policies” are recommended to slow the spread of the virus.

One key update is that university will watch for increases in case rates for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

The metrics focus on three areas:

  • Disease transmission.
  • Strain on public health capacity.
  • Strain on community and campus health system capacity.

Conditions that would result in a review of policies and procedures include:

  • A doubling within a week of cases that involve students, faculty or staff.
  • A positivity rate of 3 percent or greater among asymptomatic people participating in regular surveillance testing through the U-M COVID-19 Community Sampling and Tracking Program.
  • Projections that campus isolation and quarantine housing will reach 80 percent capacity within two weeks.
  • Diminished availability of inpatient and critical care beds at Michigan Medicine.

More information on the updated metrics can be found in the University Record.


This page contains the Campus COVID-19 Briefings from academic year 2021-21. 

View archived briefings from the 2020-21 academic year »