Answering 18 common questions about University of Michigan stay-in-place order

Students instructed to stay at residences for next 2 weeks

University of Michigan

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – University of Michigan students have been placed under a two-week stay-in-place order. Here are answers to 18 common questions about what that means.

READ: Here are the 11 exceptions for University of Michigan students under stay-in-place order

These answers were provided by the Washtenaw County Health Department and are as of Oct. 20.

What is an emergency order?

Under the Michigan Public Health Code, local health departments have the power to issue orders that are necessary to control an epidemic.

The orders have the power of law, and violating them is a misdemeanor. The goal is to have compliance with the orders, not charge people with crimes.

What does this order say?

University of Michigan undergraduate students need to “stay in place” and remain in their current residence.

Students who don’t have any COVID-19 symptoms can leave their residence for the reasons below, as long as they wear masks and maintain social distancing.

Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should quarantine and only go out for testing or medical care.

  • To go to classes and instructional labs.
  • To go to off-site clinical rotations or experiential learning assignments – with approval from the college dean and the organization/site of activity.
  • To go to work if it cannot be done remotely -- with approval from the employer.
  • To pick up food and return home to eat it.
  • To get medications or attend medical appointments.
  • To attend religious practice activities.
  • To vote.
  • To get tested for COVID-19.
  • To exercise/be physically active outside -- in groups of no more than two people.
  • To participate in intercollegiate varsity sports.

In-person gatherings with people of different households and visitors in on- or off-campus housing are not allowed.

All students should remain at their current address. Students who live in University of Michigan housing may only return to their home/permanent address if they follow U of M testing and checkout procedures.

Any students who return to their permanent address should undergo COVID-19 testing before leaving their current residence and stay in place for the duration of the order.

Why was the emergency order put in place?

The number of COVID-19 cases amongst the U of M community has increased over the last few weeks and is still increasing now. The emergency order is an intervention to try and slow or stop the spread of COVID-19 associated with the University of Michigan community and prevent additional impact to the broader community.

What types of students have to follow this emergency order?

This emergency order applies to all University of Michigan undergraduate students.

How will this emergency order be enforced?

The University of Michigan has established a non-emergency hotline to address issues in off-campus housing areas. Call 734-647-3000.

As with other state and local orders, violations can be reported to local law enforcement. Responses might vary according to the urgency of any given situation and the availability of law enforcement.

First steps will always include education and engagement rather than penalties. Violations are subject to citations and penalties, as outlined in the Michigan Public Health Code.

Health Department officials are also available to answer non-urgent questions or to provide guidance. Leave a message at 734-544-6700 or email

Do we still have to social distance and wear masks/face coverings?

Yes. It is very important that everyone continues to stay at least 6 feet apart from other people and wear cloth face coverings whenever you are outside your residence or when you are encountering others in congregate living settings (apartments with more than four residents, common areas in dorms, Greek housing, etc.).

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has issued state-wide epidemic orders to mandate these COVID-19 precautions. Washtenaw County also has an active local order further restricting gatherings in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.

Can I go to class?

Yes, though the university will provide more choices for students and instructors, including moving additional undergraduate courses to fully remote instruction for the remainder of the fall semester.

“Even though the risk of classroom transmission remains low -- and the increasing COVID-19 transmission we are seeing is not due to our classrooms and labs -- we are issuing new guidelines for undergraduate course delivery to go into effect (Wednesday) and continue for the remainder of the semester,” U of M President Mark Schlissel said.. For undergraduate students, all classes that are substantially enhanced by in-person instruction due to the nature of the instruction or space or equipment needs will continue to be taught in person. Most other undergraduate classes will be taught fully remotely."

Schlissel said most on-campus services, including libraries, will continue as they have during the semester with increased remote modalities. The Michigan Union will remain open for many services, as well.

Can I go to work on campus?

Yes, if your work cannot be done remotely, and with the permission of your employer.

Can I go to work off campus?

Yes, if your work cannot be done remotely, and with the permission of your employer.

Can I go to the CCRB/NCRB/etc. to work out?

No. While physical activity is encouraged, the order only allows for physical activity outside to reduce the risk of exposure.

No more than two people should gather for physical activity.

Can I play a pick-up basketball game with my friends?

No. Physical activity needs to be done in a group of no more than two people.

Can we tailgate for football or have a party to watch the game together?

No. COVID-19 tends to spread when people get together for group activities.

To stop the spread of COVID-19 within the U of M community, it is important to avoid all social gatherings for now.

The order exempts intercollegiate athletics, as long as practices and competitions are under medical supervision and regular virus tests are conducted by the Big Ten, according to its approved protocols. There has not been documented transmission of COVID-19 among student-athletes in Michigan’s athletics facilities. U of M supports the league’s testing program, and the staff of the athletic department is committed to protocols that protect the health of our student-athletes, Schlissel said.

Does this order affect the quarantine at Mary Markley?

No. The residents at Mary Markley need to continue to perform enhanced social distancing, including not attending in-person class for 14 days.

After the period of enhanced social distancing is completed, the residents at Markley will then follow the local stay in place order.

Can I leave campus to go home?

It is recommended that all students remain at their current address. Students who live in U of M housing may only return to their home/permanent address if they follow university testing and checkout procedures.

If other students return to their permanent address, it is strongly recommended they undergo COVID-19 testing prior to leaving their current residence and stay in place for the duration of this order. It is very important that students do this to prevent bringing COVID-19 back to their home or other areas.

Can I still vote in-person?


What happens if the number of cases still goes up during the order?

If the number of cases continues to rise, the stay in place order might be extended or further measures might be required to stop the spread of COVID-19.

How can I get a COVID-19 test?

If you are sick, you can get a COVID-19 test through UHS. It is important to get tested at UHS so that health officials can ensure that U of M and the Washtenaw County Health Department are getting any positive results so they can start investigating cases and contacts.

If you want to help monitor how much COVID-19 is on campus, you can also volunteer to be part of the COVID-19 Community Sampling and Tracking program.

Do I have to talk to the case investigators or contact tracers?

If you get called by a case investigator or contact tracer, it is very important that you speak with them and answer their questions to the best of your ability.

Case investigations and contact tracing are some of the best tools against the spread of COVID-19 (along with social distancing, face coverings and frequent hand cleaning).

Everything that you tell health officials is confidential and is only used to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

About the Author:

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.