To All Members of the Campus Community:
I thank everyone who has helped to protect our communities by wearing face coverings and limiting gatherings and travel. COVID-19 activity remains at high levels throughout our region and state.
We continue to exceed one of our Campus Response Metrics – more than 70 new cases of COVID-19 per million people per day in Washtenaw County – although the U-M component of this number is smaller than it had been earlier this fall. This situation highlights the importance of all of us strictly adhering to campus and state health guidelines.
The 12-day extension of the epidemic order by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced this week continues to restrict indoor social gatherings and other group activities. MDHHS will use the additional time to determine the full impact of the Thanksgiving holiday on the spread of COVID-19 across Michigan. This does not change our campus operations, as we were complying with the prior order.
Michigan Medicine’s COVID-19 Vaccine Information and Update page includes information on our vaccination planning and answers to frequently asked questions. 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 this afternoon. The video from the event will be available here when it’s ready.
To help plan for vaccine distribution, we will be distributing a survey next week to students and employees on all three campuses that will help us know the number of people who will be getting vaccines and what categories they fall into. The survey will be used to eventually schedule those who want to be vaccinated. 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 its potential severity, and we will share that information as soon as it is available. I urge everyone to fill out this survey and get vaccinated when it’s your turn. It’s the best way to hasten the end of the pandemic and a return to a normally functioning society.
Our winter term preparations are continuing, and we’ll share information on pre-arrival testing directly with students when plans are final. As a reminder to Michigan Medicine employees, we are opening the Towsley Center for Continuing Medical Education site for asymptomatic testing on Dec. 14. It will be available on certain dates throughout the holidays.
Campus Weekly COVID-19 Briefing
The video for this week’s Campus Weekly COVID-19 Briefing is available here. Today’s briefing was our final one for December, and we’ll resume them Jan. 15.
We are continuing to post videos of previous briefings and answers to some of the questions we weren’t able to get to on the same page. At today’s briefing:
- Chief Health Officer Preeti Malani gave an update on campus conditions.
- Vice President for Student Life Martino Harmon provided an update on housing and compliance guidelines for Winter 2021 and discussed resources and support for students during exams.
- Provost Susan M. Collins discussed the staff survey, child care resources, and the extension of the due date for grading.
- Campus academic leaders discussed teaching, including lessons learned from the fall, ideas for engaging students, and classroom innovations and challenges. The presenters were: James Hilton, vice provost for academic innovation, university librarian and dean of libraries; Timothy A. McKay, associate dean in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts; Joanna Mirecki Millunchick, associate dean in the College of Engineering; and Matt Kaplan, executive director of the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching.
- As we noted in our Nov. 20 Campus Weekly COVID-19 Briefing, the university has been looking for ways to help staff and faculty who are caring for dependents and working during the pandemic. We plan to introduce two new resources in early 2021 to help. The first is a university-paid membership to Care.com for U-M faculty and staff, and the other is a new family-to-family posting board for various family care needs from University Human Resources. Additional details and a list of different existing resources are available in the University Record.
- Earlier this week, we invited staff on the Ann Arbor campus to share feedback about working through the COVID-19 pandemic in a new online survey. Input will help inform possible new resources, policies and actions to support employees in 2021. The survey will be open until Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, at 5 p.m.
- Provost Collins and the Office of the Registrar have extended this term’s Ann Arbor deadline for grade submission by 24 hours, giving instructors 96 hours to submit grades following their final exams. Adhering to this deadline is critical to ensure other dependent processes can be completed in a timely manner.
During the semester, I am providing weekly COVID-19 updates to help keep everyone informed and address concerns and respond to feedback and questions from our community. You may also view the University Record for the latest stories and the Campus Maize and Blueprint site for updates.
I would like to wish everyone a restful, safe and healthy winter break.
Mark S. Schlissel, M.D., Ph.D.