To All Members of the Campus Community:
As we shared in our U-M message Sunday, this is a critical time for preventing spread of COVID-19, including the rapidly emerging B.1.1.7 variant. We are seeing increased cases in the U-M student community, with larger numbers of close contacts from social activities, and have worked closely with the Washtenaw County Health Department to develop additional proactive recommendations to contain COVID-19.
Today, the county health department, in collaboration with the university, issued a Stay in Place Recommendation for all U–M Ann Arbor undergraduate, graduate and professional students enrolled in Winter 2021 and living in Washtenaw County. It is effective immediately and urges all students, including those in on-campus housing, to remain in their residence or household through Feb. 7, 2021.
Under the county recommendations, U-M Ann Arbor students may leave their residences to attend in-person classes, instructional labs, or other essential educational activities, including research. They may also leave to work or to obtain food, medicine, medical care, COVID-19 testing, vaccinations, or supplies that are essential when such cannot be obtained via delivery. Religious activities and volunteering at vaccination efforts are permitted. Outdoor exercise is encouraged in groups of no more than two people. U-M supports these recommendations for all students, including student-athletes, along with additional quarantine and isolation requirements for those who tested positive or are close contacts.
For all these activities, strict adherence to preventive measures is required, and mandatory testing requirements for undergraduates coming to campus and living in residence halls remain in place.
U-M public health and medical professionals agree that now is the time to implement these additional temporary measures before spread of this more infectious version of COVID-19 threatens to overwhelm our ability to address the virus. Pressing the pause button on nonessential activities will help us protect each other from illness and preserve our ability to eventually resume more normal activities as we continue our vaccination efforts.
Additionally, we need all community members to respond as soon as possible to any public health outreach they may receive (texts, emails or calls) from the county health department and university, and to fully disclose information relevant to case investigation and contact tracing. We need to know immediately where the risk of spread is so we can work to contain COVID-19.
Reducing the spread of COVID-19 in the local community and beyond, including the rapidly emerging B.1.1.7 variant, is of the highest priority for U-M, Washtenaw County and the state of Michigan.
Our testing has detected clusters of both the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant and the predominant strain of the virus in recent days in the U-M student community. We are supporting the community members who have tested positive and their contacts, investigating all cases, and providing isolation and quarantine space as needed. In addition, we have tested a broad circle of undergraduate and graduate students who are associated with cases or contacts of those with the B.1.1.7 variant and other clusters of COVID-19 infection.
There is much less margin for error with the more contagious B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant, so strict adherence to preventive measures takes on even greater importance.
- Avoid in-person gatherings at this time, and instead connect with friends, colleagues and family via remote technologies.
- Wear a mask when around anyone outside your immediate household.
- Practice social distancing (at least 6 feet apart from others).
- Get tested for COVID-19 weekly. Sign up for asymptomatic testing here. This is mandatory for undergraduates coming to or living on campus and strongly recommended for anyone coming to campus.
- Watch for symptoms, and isolate and seek medical advice immediately if symptoms develop.
- Follow isolation or quarantine guidance if ill, exposed, or waiting on test results.
- Wash hands frequently.
- Use the ResponsiBLUE app daily.
- Get vaccinated when the vaccine becomes available to you. Complete the Blue Queue survey regarding participation in COVID-19 vaccination at U-M.
As a reminder, the university offers asymptomatic testing six days a week for any students and employees with no exposures who come to campus, including undergraduates doing mandatory testing. The University Health Service (UHS) offers testing seven days a week for students with symptoms, close contacts and exposures. Appointments can be self-scheduled for both.
Positive test results will be tested for COVID-19 variants. We encourage all students to obtain tests through campus resources because it allows us to immediately begin care and case investigation. Students who test positive for COVID-19 off-campus should report their test results to the university, in order to help protect our community. A summary of testing options is posted here. Please note that we can only test specimens isolated from U-M labs for the variant.
The new year has brought with it new challenges, and we know that our optimism around vaccinations is tempered by the realities of a virus that continues to create harm and affect us and our loved ones. We very much appreciate your diligence as our community seeks to stay safe and healthy amid a pandemic that continues to evolve.
Mark S. Schlissel, M.D., Ph.D.
Susan M. Collins, Ph.D.
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
Martino Harmon, Ph.D.
Vice President for Student Life