The order is effective immediately and will continue through 7 a.m. Nov. 3, according to the Washtenaw County Health Department.
Under the order, undergraduate students must stay in their residence unless they’re attending class, accessing dining services or carrying out approved work that can’t be done remotely.
Students who wish to return to their primary residence can do so only if they have completed the university’s procedures for leaving campus safely, health officials said.
“The situation locally has become critical, and this order is necessary to reverse the current increase in cases,” said Jimena Loveluck, health officer for Washtenaw County. “We must continue to do what we can to minimize the impact on the broader community and to ensure we have the public health capacity to fully investigate cases and prevent additional spread of illness.”
The order is intended to limit socializing among students and slow down the spread of COVID-19, officials said. U of M represents more than 60% of local cases, according to experts.
Under existing state orders, everyone has to keep at least six feet of distance from others who don’t live in their household and wear a face covering when out in public or in common areas.
Not a quarantine
A stay-in-place order is not the same as quarantine. During the stay-in-place order, official and essential activities are allowable when carried out using COVID-19 prevention measures including wearing face coverings, social distancing and frequent hand cleaning.
While this order allows students to work and participate in official activities with preventive measures in place, it also limits the impact of exposures on businesses, workers and community members, officials said.
The university will provide choices for students and instructors, including moving more 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.
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.
“The university has been working closely with the health department all along in response to the pandemic and supports this decision to issue this stay at home order,” said Robert Ernst, executive director of the U of M University Health Service and associate vice president for Student Life. “This action is intended to reduce the strain on our capacities for contact tracing and quarantine and isolation housing. Many individuals and off-campus residences are cooperating fully, and we hope this additional guidance on limiting social activities reverses the trend of increased cases related to social gatherings.”
Violations of the local order are subject to the citations and penalties outlined in the Michigan Public Health Code.
Washtenaw County has reported a total of 4,229 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Oct 19. More than 600 confirmed and probable cases have been reported in Washtenaw County in the past week (since Oct 12), and 61% are connected to University of Michigan students living on or off campus, many in congregate or group settings.
All students who have been identified as testing positive or as a close contact as determined through case investigation are offered the opportunity to move into university quarantine and isolation housing and utilize other school resources.