YPSILANTI, Mich. – Eastern Michigan University is delaying residence hall move-in and transitioning the first three weeks of most fall classes to an online format, officials said.
Students were scheduled to start moving into residence halls Thursday (Aug. 27), but move-in has been pushed back to Sept. 17.
Nearly all fall semester classes will be transitioned to an online format through Sept. 20, the university announced. Courses begin Aug. 31.
EMU officials said coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreaks at college campuses across the country played a role in this decision. They said those outbreaks have shown “challenges in limiting social gatherings and parties.”
“From the outset of our planning process, we have stated that the health, safety and well-being of our campus community were paramount in our actions,” EMU President James Smith said. “We also made clear that we would evolve our planning in order to be responsive to the changing science, data, government directives and other critical information regarding COVID-19.
“The events of the last week at campuses across the region and nation demonstrate that despite the best efforts to keep students, employees and communities safe from transmission, the dangers of increasing the spread of the virus and the challenges of maintaining physical distance and safe behavior heading into Labor Day weekend remain quite serious.”
A small number of students, such as international students, some student-athletes and others, have already moved into residence halls and will be allowed to stay there if they prefer, EMU announced.
Students who have made housing and dining deposits or payments will receive a full pro-rata credit of those deposits and payments for the time period between their original move-in day and their new move-in day, according to officials.
EMU was planning to have about 20%-25% of its classes in-person for the fall semester. Some classes in the nursing and health schools will start the semester in-person. Students will be notified of those exceptions via email between now and Aug. 31.
“We understand the challenge and hardship that the uncertainty of all matters related to the COVID-19 pandemic has created for our students, their families, and our faculty and staff,” Smith said. “All of our campus resources are directed to working closely with students affected by this decision to help them through this transition. We are committed to supporting them.”
Labor Day also played a role in this decision because it could have an affect on community case numbers, school officials said. They also expect an increase in the capacity for rapid, reliable COVID-19 testing kits within the month.
“Health officials predict another spike in cases following the long Labor Day holiday weekend, not unlike what was experienced following Memorial Day weekend when the number of positive cases increased dramatically in early to mid June,” said President Smith. “The three-week delay in on-campus activity accommodates the 14-day incubation period for cases materializing during Labor Day weekend and allows us to have a safer move-in environment.
“The delay also provides us with additional time to identify and establish expanded COVID-19 testing protocols beyond the testing of all students moving in to residence halls that is currently underway. New testing providers and processes are increasing rapidly and we are working toward further testing of students and other members of our community as part of our planning for the return to on-campus activities on Sept. 21.
“Without knowing the future, I cannot be 100% certain of any decision concerning this disease, but I believe a three-week delay in move-in is highly prudent and in the best interests of our campus. It gives us increased access to testing resources and vital information, as the semester begins; while continuing to place our emphasis where it belongs: on our students’ health and that of our entire university community