Campus Weekly COVID-19 Briefings

Jan. 15, 2021 briefing

Chief Health Officer Preeti Malani provided an update on COVID-19 in our state and nation and discussed updates to the ResponsiBLUE app and asymptomatic testing program. She also emphasized the importance of continued diligence with face covering, limiting gathering sizes, and other public health practices. (Timestamp: 1:14)

Provost Susan M. Collins (5:45) addressed:

  • Given that Ann Arbor Schools are still all online and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act has not been extended by the federal government, how will the University step in to fill this gap in support?
  • How are we looking ahead to address public health concerns in planning for Fall 2021?

Vice President for Student Life Martino Harmon (11:47) addressed:

  • How can I get involved with on-campus events if I’m living out-of-state this semester?
  • I was involved as a volunteer poll worker helping other students vote in the election last semester, and I want to stay engaged even though my winter semester will be 100% virtual. I’m interested more than ever in how to get involved given recent events in D.C.—what can I do?
  • At what % capacity are the residence halls on campus being occupied (ie, what is the estimated percentage of undergraduates who will be on campus during the Winter term)?

Rob Ernst, chair of the Campus Health Response Committee, (21:12 ) addressed:

  • Can you provide an update on arrival testing positivity rates and how many students have completed them?
  • How do off-campus students sign up for the mandatory weekly COVID-19 testing?
  • Will research faculty be required to track or document that UGs are participating in the testing program?
  • Questions about what to do if you tested positive for COVID-19 previously.

Sandro Cinti, co-lead of the Vaccination Safety and Effectiveness team of the Michigan Medicine task force, (33:56) discussed:

  • Can you provide an update on how many people Michigan Medicine has vaccinated?
  • Can you discuss how decisions are being made about when community members can get the vaccine?
  • When can students without underlying health conditions expect to get the vaccine?
  • How will graduate students (teaching assistants, research assistants, and those on fellowship) be classified? Are we considered “faculty” or students? What vaccination phase group will graduate students fall under?
  • Are less-vulnerable community members being prioritized for the vaccine?
  • When will the vaccine be available to staff in student service roles who will be having direct contact/interaction with students?
  • Why do they classify all of Michigan Medicine employees in 1A when not all of the employees are essential/frontline workers?
  • Should seniors and those planning to graduate in 2021 still plan on signing up for the vaccine?
  • Where do librarians who have weekly interactions with students fall in the phased plan for vaccine rollout?
  • Will non-university spouses will be provided the vaccine?

Dec. 11, 2020 briefing

President Schlissel announced that today’s briefing is the final weekly briefing of December. We will resume Jan. 15. He also noted that Dr. Sandro Cinti, an infectious disease physician and one of the co-leads of Michigan Medicine’s COVID-19 Vaccine and Therapeutics Task Force, provided a livestreamed update on vaccination plans. That recording will be available here. He also mentioned Michigan Medicine’s vaccination information page, and that U-M will be distributing a survey next week to students and employees on all three campuses that will help us determine the number of people who will be getting vaccines.  It is very important for our planning efforts to complete the survey even if you do not want the vaccine.  The state is working on finalizing the initial priority groups based on risk of contracting the disease, and we will share that information as soon as it is available. (Timestamp: :03)

Chief Health Officer Preeti Malani provided an update on campus conditions. (2:56)

Vice President Martino Harmon provided a housing update and compliance guidelines for Winter 2021 and discussed resources and support for students during exams. (5:59)

Provost Susan M. Collins discussed the staff survey, child care resources for faculty and staff, and the extension of the due date for grades for the Ann Arbor campus. (12:25)

Academic leaders engaged in a discussion on teaching, including lessons learned from the fall, ideas for engaging students, and classroom innovations and challenges. (17:45)

They also discussed resources for instructors to enhance teaching during the pandemic. The participants were:

  • James Hilton, vice provost for academic innovation, university librarian and dean of libraries
  • Timothy A. McKay, associate dean for undergraduate education in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
  • Joanna Mirecki Millunchick, associate dean for undergraduate education in the College of Engineering
  • Matt Kaplan, executive director, Center for Research on Learning and Teaching

The leaders answered the following questions from the community:

  • If my grandmother is recovered from COVID with some symptoms, can I hug her at Christmas? I don’t know what to tell the people in my family that have had COVID and have recovered, are they safe to be around? (48:56)
  • How will the all-virtual classes in winter 2021 affect international students who are planning to enroll in Winter 2021 term? (50:58)
  • What are plans for continuing banks of paid time off for dependent care or illness after December 31? (52:23)
  • Have any COVID cases been tied to the use of on campus gym recreation facilities? (53:49)
  • Dr. Collins said the campus survey was sent out Wednesday, but I have searched my email, with multiple approaches and strategies, and I have not received a copy. Is there a place I can reach out for assistance? [the email address she mentioned isuhr-survey-feedback@umich.edu for assistance.] (55:39)
  • What suggestions do you have for students whose professors are not following the best practices that Tim McKay and Joanna Millunchick mentioned? (56:17)

Dec. 4, 2020 briefing

Chief Health Officer Preeti Malani gave an update on campus conditions. (Timestamp: 1:28)

Provost Susan M. Collins discussed a new tool to improve the use of Zoom for teaching that Information and Technology Services is bringing to campus, highlighted our College of Engineering “Skunkworks” team and Musical Theatre department’s Ghostlight series, and noted the change in parking availability made by Logistics, Transportation & Parking for graduate students. (3:19)

Vice President for Student Life Martino Harmon provided an update on housing, discussed Student Life programs and resources as we head into finals season and the end of the semester, and highlighted some recent student and staff efforts and achievements. (10:28)

Rob Ernst, chair of the Campus Health Response Committee, discussed virus testing for the campus community in December and plans for the winter term. (15:54)

Sandro Cinti, an infectious disease physician and one of the co-leads of Michigan Medicine’s COVID-19 Vaccine and Therapeutics Task Force, provided an update on U-M’s planning for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines when they become available. Also joining were co-leads Stan Kent, Michigan Medicine’s chief pharmacy officer, and Dana Habers, chief department administrator in Radiology. (25:58)

The leaders answered the following questions from the community:

  • Could we please discuss in more details how we know the vaccines are safe? What are the known short term, acute, complications and how often do they occur? What are the anticipated long-term complications from a vaccine like this? (37:29)
  • What is the universities plans for getting students vaccinated when available and making sure as many people are as possible before Fall 2021? (40:26)
  • What does leadership see the campus community looking like once a vaccine is rolled out and longer into the future post pandemic status? Will the university offer students more choices on how they want to take their classes in the future? Will we remain primarily a residential university? Do you see a need for staff to have a physical presence onsite in a post pandemic era? (42:17)
  • Does U-M plan to require the vaccine for our community? (45:20)
  • Can you discuss how we will track vaccination in our community? (48:13)
  • There are students, myself included, who cannot get into classes for winter semester that they must take to stay on track to graduate on time, even though these classes are online and have a capacity of 800 students. How are you going to support students like myself? No student should be locked out of a class required by their major, especially when the class is online. (49:50)
  • U-M extended certain Mcards that expired this year until Jan 5, 2021 due to COVID and Card centers being closed. How can those with expiring cards properly support the State of Michigan’s pause of non-essential trips to any college campus? (52:15)
  • Can non-faculty who work in learning support join the classedu endeavor? (53:52)
  • I’ve heard the vaccine makes people sick – do folks who get it need to quarantine after they get the vaccine? (54:18)
  • What do we know about the effectiveness period of the vaccines? (55:24)
  • If someone already had COVID-19, will they need a vaccine? (55:58)

Answers to additional questions submitted for the briefing.


Nov. 20, 2020 briefing

Chief Health Officer Preeti Malani gave an update on campus conditions and shared health and well-being resources available through MHealthy. (Timestamp: 2:20)

  • MHealthy’s Alcohol and Tobacco programs offer tobacco treatment options for faculty and staff, as well as confidential programs to help manage mild to moderate alcohol problems
    • MHealthy’s Tobacco Consultation Service has Virtual Quit kits to help you quit and stay quit.
    • MHealthy’s Alcohol Management Program is currently offering Holiday Stop and Swap. Sign up to receive weekly emails to help practice more mindful drinking and reduce alcohol consumption or practice abstaining from alcohol all together.
    • Both programs are offering free virtual sessions for U-M faculty and staff.
  • The Resource Coach program supports U-M faculty and staff experiencing a financial crisis or other personal hardship and connects them to the right resources. Confidential support comes in the form of:
    • Referrals and connections to community and local resources;
    • Assistance finding the right resource for each unique situation;
    • In some cases, small grants are available to cover an urgent financial need.
  • The Exercise and Relaxation classes on Workplace has free weekly classes available online for faculty and staff. Participate in live classes, or view recorded sessions.
  • The Well-being Resource Guide is intended to provide employees and supervisors with resources and information to help them adapt and thrive in times of change.

Provost Susan M. Collins discussed staff challenges, working situations, the university budget, and faculty and staff wellness. (5:52)

Vice President Harmon expressed appreciation for staff collaboration and commitment throughout a challenging semester and addressed staff concerns about the future as the pandemic continues. (12:07)

Associated Vice President for Human Resources Rich Holcomb discussed resources and engagement with U-M staff and announced a staff survey that will be launched this semester. (19:44)

Jennie McAlpine, director of Work Life Programs, discussed options for dependent care and announced that a Family to Family Bulletin Board is being developed to help employees find care options. (30:44) The contact email that she mentioned is: worklife@umich.edu

Kelcey Stratton, clinical psychologist and program manager for resiliency and well-being services, discussed resources available for employees. Information on the Faculty and Staff Counseling and Consultation Office (FASCCO), Office of Counseling and Workplace Resilience, Department of Psychiatry and U-M Depression Center resources she highlighted is available here. (38:58)

The leaders answered the following questions from the community:

  • Does the fact that many students who were living in dorms this semester may now simply look at off campus housing opportunities worry you? What measures will be in place to account for any greater numbers of students who live off campus? (46:11)
  • Will the saliva surveillance testing continue to be available? (48:37)
  • What will you do for students that live in the dorms who test positive before they leave? (51:03)
  • Can you please provide guidance to graduate students who are traveling for the holiday and then returning to work in labs? (52:38)
  • What should staff do if they see someone in their on-campus building who is clearly sick? (54:36)

Answers to additional questions submitted for the briefing.


Nov. 13, 2020 briefing

President Schlissel shared that that next week’s briefing will cover staff concerns, as we’ve been working on a number of fronts and will have more information to share next Friday. He also noted that there will be no Weekly Briefing scheduled for Thanksgiving week. (Timestamp: :01)

Chief Health Officer Preeti Malani gave an update on campus conditions and shared safety guidance for students, faculty and staff as holidays approach. (2:49)

Provost Susan M. Collins discussed changes to undergraduate grading, course evaluation information, and reiterate that she asked faculty to be flexible where they can to account for the disruptions at the end of the term. (7:51)

Vice President for Student Life Martino Harmon discussed the importance of de-densifying residence halls for safety, logistics and timeline for housing and students heading back to permanent residences, and safe in-person and virtual engagement opportunities. (15:24)

Washtenaw County Health Officer Jimena Loveluck discussed the current situation in the county. (21:29)

Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs Marschall Runge discussed the COVID outlook for hospitals nationwide and for Michigan Medicine and provided an update on vaccine trials and new treatments. (29:11)

The leaders answer questions from the community:

  • Are we starting to look at addressing the visitor situation with patients coming into the hospital due to the amount of cases going up? (35:56)
  • If a student meets criteria and is provided housing for winter 2021, will they be charged the higher single-occupancy rates even though single-occupancy is the only option available? (37:21)
  • Will Study Spaces be available in the winter semester? (38:00)
  • The people I want to meet up with for Thanksgiving have already had COVID within in the last month, but I haven’t, is it safe to gather with them? (39:59)
  • Many first-year courses have a policy stating that lack of internet connection is not an excuse for turning in homework late. For the upcoming Winter semester, will the University of Michigan implement any policy to help these students disproportionally affected by the internet connection policies in many first-year classes? This reflects a concern that access to an internet connection may result in no credit for assignments. (41:12)
  • What steps will the university take to ensure students off campus are abiding by appropriate COVID protocols? (44:14)
  • Can you please clarify the testing options for people who are in Michigan Medicine who want testing due to concern for possible high-risk exposure? (49:41)
  • Is there any additional guidance or information that can be shared with international students? (51:13)
  • I have been a custodian here for thirteen years. When the virus first started, we were instructed to start using a Spartan chemical for disinfection. Now that we have run out of it we were told to go back to the chemical that we used before this all started. Why are we going back to that product, especially now that the pandemic is spiking? (52:37)

Answers to additional questions submitted for the briefing.


Nov. 6, 2020 briefing

President Mark Schlissel discussed the Ann Arbor campus plans for the winter term, engagement with the community, and key elements of the plans. (Timestamp :48)

School of Public Health Dean F. Dubois Bowman discussed public health considerations that were part of our planning.  (7:12)

College of Engineering Dean Alec Gallimore discussed the findings of the student, faculty and staff surveys U-M conducted, along with conclusions and recommendations based on the survey data. (16:30)

Provost Susan M. Collins discussed the winter term instructional plan and break days. (25:17)

Vice President for Student Life Martino Harmon discussed housing, dining and enforcement of public health measures during the winter term. (31:34)

Associate Professor of Epidemiology Emily Martin discussed our winter term testing regimen. (39:13)

Chief Health Officer Preeti Malani discussed important mental health and well-being efforts. (42:20)

The leaders answered questions from the community:

  • How will the winter term policy that “Only courses that must be taught in person will be delivered that way, as determined by instructors and program leaders” affect the F-1 visa status of international students? We have been told that international students need to take at least one in-person class or they risk losing their F-1’s. (46:31)
  • When will we know the format of classes? (47:44)
  • Is there data to suggest that there has been significant transmission from undergrads to the greater university community (graduate students, faculty, instructors) or the Ann Arbor community? (48:04)
  • What plans will there be to engage students socially yet safely? How will we help students who are feeling isolated during the winter months? How is the university assisting first-year students in building connections? (50:35)
  • How would a vaccine to COVID-19 impact the decisions made for the Winter semester? (53:31)

Answers to additional questions submitted for the briefing.


Oct. 30, 2020 briefing

Chief Health Officer Preeti Malani gave an update on campus conditions. (Timestamp: 1:26)

Provost Susan M. Collins discussed guidance on research expenditures, our new COVID-19 Faculty Council, winter term planning and technology and final exam issues. The resource she mentioned for exams is available here. (8:35)

Vice President for Student Life Martino Harmon discussed expectations of students to successfully complete the Stay in Place period and make it to Thanksgiving break, the top things students can do between now and the election on Tuesday, and the planning and decision-making process for Winter 2021 from the student life perspective. (15:31)

Dean Michael Barr of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy discussed voting and upcoming Democracy & Debate activities, reinforcing the message that we might not know the outcome of the election right away. (23:09)

Dean of Students Laura Blake Jones discussed Halloween and football engagement and health and safety measures. She also shared virtual events and online tips and resources for students to stay safe and stay connected. (30:07)

Nicole Banks, associate dean of students and interim director of Fraternity and Sorority Life, discussed the unit’s See Something Say, Something efforts. (37:57)

The leaders answered questions from the community:

  • What message would you like students to know going into this pivotal time for our campus, and for our nation as a whole? (42:33)
  • Students have asked a lot of questions about grading. Provost Collins, can you discuss this? (45:08)
  • We’ve received several questions about housing refunds. Can you share the latest information for our students who live on campus? (46:00)
  • Have you been able to tell at all if the stay at home order for undergrads helped to slow the spread on campus? (47:37)
  • Related to safety, can you discuss the planning that has been done for this important weekend? (49:38)
  • Will students be accommodated if they test positive just before the Nov. 20 end of in-person semester or will they be made to quarantine in their permanent residence? (53:48)
  • What are the lessons learned for having a hybrid semester during this fluid COVID-19 environment? How can these lessons be applied to Winter term to instill student, faculty, and staff confidence and ensure a more successful and complete semester? (54:58)

Answers to additional questions submitted for the briefing.


Oct. 20, 2020 briefing

President Mark S. Schlissel noted the Washtenaw County Health Department Stay in Place order and U-M’s update to class formats. (Timestamp: 1:00)

Washtenaw County Health Officer Jimena Loveluck discussed the county’s order and collaboration with university health leaders. (1:52)

U-M Chief Health Officer Preeti Malani discussed the campus conditions that led to the decisions. (9:04)

Dr. Rob Ernst, chair of the Campus Health Response Committee, discussed the campus response metrics and the university’s actions. (14:43)

Provost Susan M. Collins discusses details about the new guidance on class formats, library services, research labs, undergraduate on-campus jobs, and winter semester surveys and planning. (21:00)

Vice President for Student Life Martino Harmon discussed Student Life outside the classroom during “Stay in Place,” choices for leaving campus, winter semester considerations, voting, and urged everyone to help curb the spread and finish the semester strong. (33:14)

President Schlissel thanked the many members of our community who have been following PH guidelines or working to make our community safer, and discsused how today’s changes provide choices to students and instructors. (33:14)

The leaders answered questions from the community:

  • We’ve been asked a lot about plans to enforce compliance with public health guidelines in recent weeks. Now there’s a county order to consider as well. Can you discuss enforcement measures? (37:56)
  • Can you share more about U-M testing for students who want to leave campus? (44:33)
  • Why do the county order and U-M’s changes to class formats affect undergraduate students only? (49:15)
  • Is there a possibility that this order will be extended after its initial expiration? Can you confirm that this order will indeed only be for two weeks? (50:24)
  • Can you address why athletics is continuing? (51:40)
  • May I stay in my classroom and teach even though my students will all be remote? It is easier for me to teach at school than at home. (56:10)
  • Can you address what you’ve done to deal with clusters in places like Markley and Greek Life houses? (56:45)

Answers to additional questions submitted for the briefing.


Oct. 16, 2020 briefing

Chief Health Officer Preeti Malani shared an update on campus conditions. (Timestamp: 1:17)

Provost Susan M. Collins discussed surveys of the community on winter semester planning, challenges that are affecting members of our community, and our Democracy and Debate Theme Semester. (7:50)

Vice President for Student Life Harmon discussed the possibility of offering safe dining-in options for students, health & wellness information, and civic engagement opportunities. (13:35)

President Schlissel discussed the importance of cooperating with U-M’s case investigators and contact tracers and thanked the professionals at Environment, Health and Safety for their tremendous work. He also emphasized the importance of getting a flu shot. (19:24)

Dr. Malani discussed testing options for members of the campus community and the new Community Sampling and Tracking Program testing schedule in residence halls. (20:58)

Dean of Students Laura Blake Jones discussed the Wolverine Culture of Care campaign, and provided updates on ongoing planning around football safety, alternative engagement for students, Halloween and the election. (27:37)

The leaders answered questions from the community:

  • What accommodations are being made for students who have technical difficulties while submitting exams? Is there a University wide policy on how to deal with this? (35:19)
  • What should we do when we are in class and our teachers are not following the social distancing guidelines that have been emailed to us by our advisors? For example, requiring us to move around the move and/or pass projects around for critique. (36:39)
  • Why are students getting sent back to their in-person classes when multiple students receive an email saying someone in their in-person class has COVID, that class being their only in-person class? (38:13)
  • With the holidays approaching will the university shut down activities/non-essential buildings and such earlier than the normal late December timeline? (39:32)
  • Can you talk about how you’re handling the increase in the number of persons in quarantine and isolation housing? (41:12)
  • If you have a negative COVID test after 5 or 7 days of exposure, can you return to work/school?  Rather than waiting the 14 days. (46:10)
  • What is someone supposed to do if they test positive? UHS takes up to 24 hours to respond, so what is someone supposed to do during that time if they have roommates, live in a dorm, etc.? (47:08)
  • Can you discuss where the planning for winter term stands right now? (49:41)
  • What are the staff infection numbers that are directly tied to working on campus? (52:14)
  • Will COVID-19 vaccination be mandatory for faculty and staff? (54:24)
  • President Schlissel responded to questions about working with local K-12 schools. (57:41)

Oct. 9, 2020 briefing

Chief Health Officer Preeti Malani shared an update on campus conditions.

Provost Susan M. Collins discussed midterms, increasing study spaces for students, and support resources during these stressful times. She also reiterated that junior faculty who are dealing with research disruptions are encouraged to request a clock extension using our existing policies.

Vice President for Student Life Martino Harmon discussed socialization and engagement opportunities for students to combat isolation and loneliness, football safety and alternative activities for students not interested in fall sports and compliance with safety measures in University Housing.

Associate Professor of Epidemiology Emily Martin and Director of COVID-19 Campus Health Response Dr. Rob Ernst discussed our status in the context of our campus response metrics, as well as the actions we are taking to prevent spread of the virus.

I spoke about our COVID in the Classroom chart and the new COVID-19 hotline (734-936-7000)

The leaders answered questions from the community:

  • Please address the recent Michigan Supreme Court decision over Governor Whitmer’s use of emergency powers. If the executive orders are left to expire, what will the university do to keep students, faculty, and staff safe?
  • This question applies more broadly to our layered approach. A question submitted in advance asks “People tested positive on every floor in Alice Lloyd so I was just wondering, why didn’t the whole building get tested?”
  • Can you discuss any actions you’re thinking about taking as students prepare to leave in November?
  • What do you think will be the best way that U-M can work together to ensure that we will have a smooth transition into the winter semester? Are there plans to have a fully remote semester for Winter 2021?
  • What will the options be for students who are unable to return “home” given their situation?

Answers to additional questions submitted for the briefing.


Oct. 2, 2020 briefing

Chief Health Officer Preeti Malani shared an update on campus conditions.

Provost Susan M. Collins discussed the university budget and winter term planning.

Vice President for Student Life Martino Harmon discussed safety measures for Student Life employees, our Rec Sports reopening, student safety, and student engagement.

Associate Professor of Epidemiology Emily Martin discussed the campus health response metrics.

President Schlissel spoke about the updates to U-M’s COVID-19 dashboard.

The leaders answered questions from the community:

  • What was involved in getting this list of response metrics?
  • What’s the difference between March (when U-M moved to remote instruction) and now?
  • Why are we doing a semester with some in-person instruction?
  • I’m teaching an in-person lab course and I’m inundated with students concerning possible exposures and how to react. For instance a roommate has been exposed and is being tested. Is it safe for them to attend? Or should they quarantine until the test results come in?
  • Why won’t you give us free weekly testing like many other college campuses are doing? Can you talk about our levels of asymptomatic testing?
  • What other things are we learning from exposures?

Answers to additional questions submitted for the briefing.