1. U-M Ann Arbor COVID-19 Update

    July 6, 2021

    To All Members of the Campus Community:

    We are looking forward to everyone enjoying a vibrant in-person experience this fall on our campus. Our dorms will be alive and at near full capacity, and our dining services will offer both eat-in and carry-out services. About 93 percent of undergraduate classes will be offered in person, and student activities and Michigan Athletics will be back in gear.

    While COVID-19 cases are near zero in the campus community, we continue to track the Delta variant, which can spread very quickly and may cause more severe illness, particularly in unvaccinated individuals. As Michigan Medicine has reported, data so far suggest that the vaccines offer good protection against all of the named COVID-19 variants to date, including the Delta variant.

    I thank everyone in our community who has reported their vaccination information to the university. Currently, around 25,740 students [edited following updates in data] and 16,700 faculty and staff have uploaded validated vaccination info. This information is helping us hone our fall plans for an in-person experience, and the more people who share their information, the better we can plan.

    Why report? You can win prizes by submitting proof of your completed COVID-19 vaccination. But more importantly, fully vaccinated students, faculty and staff who self-report their vaccine information to the university are not required to wear a mask indoors or outdoors for most areas of our campuses. Vaccinated students whose status has been verified by the university are also exempt from mandatory weekly COVID-19 testing.

    Here are the main updates at a glance:

    • This week’s student prizes include Michigan Athletics tickets, tickets to a musical production, a $100 Barnes & Noble textbook scholarship, farmers market tokens, and Blue Bucks.
    • For faculty and staff this week, we’re including several outstanding and creative prizes from various campus units, including U-M football tickets in a suite, a body composition assessment from our School of Kinesiology, a behind-the-scenes tour of the Clements Library, a backstage tour for a major production from our School of Music, Theatre & Dance, a one-year membership to the Matthaei Botanical Gardens, a School of Nursing session in the clinical learning center using simulation and augmented reality, and $100 cash prizes.
    • We’ve added a student vaccination data dashboard to our Campus Maize and Blueprint website. This advances our goal of transparency while helping us to evaluate whether we need to continue masking in classrooms for vaccinated individuals. If community incidence of COVID-19 remains low and we achieve greater than 75 percent vaccination among students, we will only require unvaccinated persons to mask in class.
    • As we recently announced relaxation of our masking and distancing requirements due to improving public health conditions, changes in guidance and greater vaccination levels, we are also adjusting class formats. Many of our larger classes will now be offered in-person and we now expect about 93 percent of our undergraduate classes will be fully in person this fall (around 2 percent are fully remote, and the rest are hybrid).
    • As more of our community continues to return to work on our campuses, we have shared new resources and guidance from University Human Resources and the Environment, Health and Safety Department to support units and individuals planning for continued remote or hybrid work arrangements this fall.
    • “Children’s Mental Health and the Pandemic” is a concern that affects many in our community. In a webinar, specialists from the Michigan Medicine Department of Psychiatry address these issues and offer coping strategies.

    Vaccination Reporting and Prizes

    I thank everyone in our community who has submitted their vaccination information to the university. This information is helping us hone our fall plans for an in-person experience, and the more people who share their information, the better we can make the semester. And you can win prizes by submitting proof of your completed COVID-19 vaccination.

    We urge all students, faculty and staff to share vaccination status as soon as possible using our online tool that is also available via Wolverine Access.

    Students, it’s especially important that you submit your information by July 16 to assist with our planning. Whether you are vaccinated, unvaccinated or choosing not to share your vaccination status, we want to hear from you as soon as possible. We’ve heard from more than 27,000 of you, and I thank you for uploading your information.

    Our first prize drawings last week recognized the students who submitted their vaccination information before June 16. These included three $500 travel vouchers, three $500 U-M Tech Shop gift cards, and three $500 Barnes & Noble Bookstore gift cards. We also awarded five $100 cash prizes to faculty and staff. I especially applaud our early adopter students who took the time to upload their information.

    We’ll continue prize drawings each week for students, faculty and staff. You’re automatically entered when you submit proof of your completed COVID-19 vaccination.

    This week’s student prizes include Michigan Athletics tickets, tickets to a musical production, a $100 Barnes & Noble textbook scholarship, farmers market tokens, and Blue Bucks.

    For faculty and staff this week, we’re including outstanding creative prizes from various campus units, including U-M football tickets in a suite, a body composition assessment from our School of Kinesiology, a behind-the-scenes tour of the Clements Library and special collections, a backstage tour for a major production from our School of Music, Theatre & Dance, a one-year membership to the Matthaei Botanical Gardens, a School of Nursing session in the clinical learning center using simulation and augmented reality, and $100 cash prizes.

    We’ve posted future prizes on the Campus Maize and Blueprint site, as well.

    Everyone can go maskless outdoors in non-patient areas of our campuses, and in addition, fully vaccinated students, faculty and staff who self-report their vaccine information to the university are no longer required to wear a mask indoors on most areas of our campuses. Vaccinated students whose status has been verified by the university are also exempt from mandatory weekly COVID-19 testing.

    We strongly encourage everyone who can to get vaccinated. The research shows that the vaccines are safe and extremely effective at protecting you against COVID-19. The Detroit News recently reported that over 99 percent of those hospitalized for COVID-19 since January 1 in our state were NOT vaccinated. The available vaccines work incredibly well. They are safe, completely free and available at most retail pharmacies and health providers, and appointments remain available through Michigan Medicine, as well as the University Health Service.

    Employees are eligible to use up to two hours of paid release time per vaccine dose. Supervisors are strongly encouraged to be flexible in allowing employees the release time to receive a vaccination during the workday.

    Please note that the state of Michigan’s MI Shot to Win vaccination sweepstakes is separate from U-M’s prize drawings and requires a separate submission but you can enter to win a prize through the state as well.

    Student Vaccination Dashboard

    We’ve added a student vaccination data dashboard to our Campus Maize and Blueprint website. The data reflect what portion of students on the Ann Arbor campus have self-reported their COVID-19 vaccination information.

    If community incidence of COVID-19 remains low and we achieve greater than 75 percent vaccination among students, we will only require unvaccinated persons to mask in class.

    The dashboard was developed by our Campus Health Response Committee and is supported by U-M Information Technology Services.  Additional information is available in the University Record.

    Class Formats

    As we recently announced relaxation of our masking and distancing requirements due to improving public health conditions, changes in state and CDC guidance and greater vaccination levels, we are also adjusting class formats and now expect about 93 percent of our undergraduate classes will be fully in person this fall (around 2 percent are remote, and the rest are hybrid).

    For example, a number of the large lecture courses in our College of Literature, Science and the Arts will move from remote to in-person for the fall semester. As always, students should check the Registrar’s site for your classes’ mode of instruction, meeting time and place.

    Our schools and colleges will work with individual students who would like a more in-person schedule. These students should contact their advisors as soon as possible.

    Returning to more on-campus work

    As more of our community continues to return to work on our campuses, we have shared new resources and guidance to support units and individuals making the transition back to in-person work or planning for continued remote or hybrid work arrangements this fall.

    We know the transition back to more traditional activities can cause anxiety, and I thank everyone who has been diligently working to address questions and concerns.

    The resources include University Human Resource’s new Future of Work Resource Center hub for items related to remote work, including workplace agreement documents and guidance, child care and family resources, training opportunities, and support and wellness resources.

    The Environment, Health and Safety Department’s COVID-19 Information page also has several resources for our workplace, including our face covering policy and FAQs, facility guidelines and signage, and how to report outside positive COVID-19 test results.

    Many faculty members have reached out asking if they are able to work in their offices, and there are no longer public health or state restrictions prohibiting that. Anyone wanting to work on campus should seek guidance from their unit, school or college leadership – as in-person work plans have been developed at the unit level.

    Michigan Medicine is reviewing its spaces to determine how staff working arrangements will successfully meld with organizational and mission needs to optimize a flexible work environment.

    Additional Updates

    • In Michigan Medicine’s Health Lab blog, our researchers discuss how genetic surveillance is helping scientists assess the effectiveness of monoclonal antibodies and vaccines against COVID-19 variants.
    • “Children’s Mental Health and the Pandemic” is a concern that affects many in our community. In a webinar, specialists from the Michigan Medicine Department of Psychiatry address these issues and offer coping strategies.
    • U-M researchers will be able to monitor more wastewater sites on and off camps for SARS-CoV-2 thanks to a grant of more than $5 million from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The funding will increase surveillance for variant strains of the virus. As Krista Wigginton, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, said, “Wastewater-based epidemiology has shown to be a valuable tool to inform public health officials of case levels and infection trends in a community.”

    I will continue to provide COVID-19 updates when needed to help keep everyone informed, address concerns and respond to feedback and questions from our community. 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.

    Sincerely,

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