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University of Michigan: Students must have period of ‘enhanced social distance’ before returning

Students told to monitor health, avoid leaving home for 14 days

University of Michigan School of Education.
University of Michigan School of Education. (Credit: Dominick Sokotoff)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Students attending the University of Michigan in the fall must spend two weeks monitoring their health before attending classes and reduce contact with others, the university announced Monday.

In a letter to its students on Aug. 3, the Ann Arbor university told students to “observe a 14-day period of enhanced social distance at home before arriving in Ann Arbor or on campus.”

During the two-week period, students are asked to:

  • Take their temperature twice a day and monitor for fever.
  • Watch for cough, trouble breathing or additional COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Stay home and avoid contact with others outside of their home. This includes not going to work, school or social gatherings.
  • Avoid public transportation, taxis or ride-shares.
  • Maintain a physical distance from others (about six feet).
  • Wear a face covering when in public settings or while interacting with others outside of the home.
  • Seek medical attention if they develop a fever or other symptoms and/or test positive for COVID-19.

Students will need to complete an online module about COVID-19 and best safety practices. Those moving into U-M housing are expected to be tested for COVID-19 -- and cleared -- before they arrive in Ann Arbor, according to the letter.

For this, U-M is partnering with Quest Diagnostics to provide the testing kits directly to students who will live in U-M housing for no additional cost. Students will self-administer tests and return the tests to Quest Diagnostics for analysis.

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Students from international locations will start their period of “enhance social distancing” when they arrive. They should attend in-person classes until their 14-day period is over, even if it overlaps with scheduled classes.

For new international students studying in the United States, the U-M said that they must take some in-person or hybrid courses and be enrolled full-time. They are not limited to a number of online credits but classes can not be completely online.

In the letter, the U-M said current data suggests that approximately 70 percent of credits for undergraduate students can be taken remotely this fall. It will give students who have already signed housing contracts until Aug. 14 to cancel without penalty.

Currently, the university is building its plan for evaluating students with suspected COVID-19 symptoms, the U-M said. The plan includes testing when indicated and providing support space on and off-campus for students who test positive or have symptoms.

In an email to students and alumni, U-M President Mark Schlissel said that students, faculty and visitors would be required to wear face coverings when on campus, including university grounds and U-M transportation.

Face coverings do not need to be worn in one’s own residence or office.

Schlissel said that during the semester, U-M community members on campus will check their symptoms through a mobile app or online tool daily. He said the university would work with local public health officials for contact tracing and that spaces and meals will be provided to students who need to isolate or quarantine.

The U-M is offering a mix of classes including in-person, remote and hybrid options. In June, it announced an alternative schedule for students including no fall break and a return to their permanent residences in November for remote learning.

Classes for the fall semester begin Aug. 31 with move-in starting Aug. 24.

Read the full letter to students here.

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