Beginning of Semester COVID-19 Protocols
January 4, 2022
Campus leadership has been monitoring the situation and has decided to continue with the plan to hold on-campus, in-person classes beginning on January 10.
Dear Colleagues and Students,
As we move into the winter semester, we hope you and your loved ones are well and that you enjoyed a restful holiday break. Over the past few weeks, the Omicron variant of COVID-19 has caused concern and a rise in positive cases across the country, including in Michigan. Campus leadership has been monitoring the situation and has decided to continue with the plan to hold on-campus, in-person classes beginning on January 10. We want you to have the latest updates and explain how we came to this decision. Make no mistake, our goal remains to keep the UM-Dearborn community safe while continuing to offer our exceptional education.
Rationale for in-person classes to start as scheduled on January 10
UM-Dearborn's protocols and policies to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on campus have been very successful and we had relatively low active cases throughout the fall semester. Our university also has a high vaccination rate. The required indoor masking policy has been adhered to studiously, good ventilation in the classrooms, increased cleaning procedures, COVID-19 reporting and quarantine procedures have all worked to minimize transmission and spread on campus. Non-vaccinated members of our community, with an exemption, are required to submit a weekly negative COVID test to attend class and work.
Moreover, being a commuter campus, we do not have congregate living or dining facilities. Our educational model can be easily adapted to being strictly transactional, where students and faculty can come to campus for class and then leave.
These policies have worked because we have followed the science. Both vaccination and masking have helped keep our population safe. Despite the rise in positive cases, the New York Times recently reported that hospitalization and deaths from COVID-19 are down considerably from this time last year, 43 and 64 percent, respectively and that "emerging evidence suggests that Omicron really is milder than earlier versions of this coronavirus." This is especially the case for those who have been fully vaccinated. In a recent study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), unvaccinated patients accounted for 84.2 percent of COVID-19 hospitalizations. Vaccine breakthrough cases were older and had more chronic medical conditions but less commonly received ICU-level care and invasive mechanical ventilation.
While some universities have opted for remote learning for a period of time to start the winter semester, many universities are planning for a safe in-person return, including two-thirds of universities in the Big Ten conference.
Booster shot requirement and reporting form
As a reminder, booster shots are now required for all faculty, staff and students by February 4 or as soon as eligible thereafter, to be considered fully vaccinated and compliant with the vaccination policy. This will provide an added layer of protection for our campus community. Booster shots will be available at the campus testing clinic in the University Center beginning Monday, January 10.
Please upload your booster information using the form in Wolverine Access as soon as possible.
Face coverings and masking options
Face coverings are still required for all students, staff, faculty and visitors in indoor settings and on transportation, regardless of vaccination status, but not required outdoors.
In an effort to continue to help our community be as safe and healthy as possible, the University will provide KN95 or surgical masks to faculty, staff and students who would like one. Surgical masks and a limited supply of KN95 masks will be available in the University Center Testing Clinic on testing days and the University Center Information Desk on non-testing days beginning January 10. Additional KN95 masks will be made available throughout the week.
Masks will be available through the end of February.
Another recent JAMA article has shown that both types of masks were equally effective at protecting against flu viruses, a useful surrogate.
We also encourage anyone concerned that they have contracted COVID-19, or who simply wants added assurance of safety, to receive a free test at the University Center beginning next week. The campus testing clinic is open to all faculty, staff and students.
The campus testing clinic will be open on the first day of classes, Monday, January 10. Testing will be available daily from 7:30am-6:30pm, through Thursday, January 13.
Beginning the week of January 17, the clinic will be open Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 7:30am-6:30pm.
ResponsiBLUE health screening
Before coming to campus, all UM-Dearborn faculty, staff and students must complete the ResponsiBLUE daily health screening and all guests to campus must participate in the ResponsiBLUE Guest screening. External guests to campus events will not be required to prove vaccination status or negative tests.
Updated quarantining guidelines
The university will be following the updated CDC guidelines for quarantining. For the unvaccinated or those more than six months out from their second mRNA dose (or more than 2 months after the J&J vaccine) and not yet boosted, we will require quarantine for 5 days followed by strict mask use for an additional 5 days. Individuals who have received their booster shot do not need to be quarantined following exposure, but should wear a mask for 10 days after the exposure.
For all those exposed, best practice includes receiving a test at day 5 after exposure. If symptoms occur, individuals should immediately quarantine until a negative test confirms symptoms are not attributable to COVID-19.
Reporting of positive COVID results
Students should report positive COVID illness to DearbornCOVIDsupport@umich.edu or call 313-593-5056.
Faculty or staff who test positive for COVID-19, are required to contact the Office of Human Resources at 313-593-5190 or email@example.com.
Town Hall with Preeti Malani, MD, MSJ, U-M Chief Health Officer
We will be hosting a COVID-19 Town Hall with Dr. Malani on January 13 at 4pm to answer any questions you may have about the COVID-19 virus, its variants and university protocols. Additional details and a registration link will be shared later this week.
These first few weeks of the semester may be challenging, but we'll get through it. We remind everyone that the best way to return to normal is to continue practicing good health and hygiene, community-mindedness and determined optimism for the future.
UM-Dearborn is at its best when we're working together. Welcome back!
Go Safe - Go Blue–Go Dearborn!
Vice Chancellor for Business Affairs
Dean of Students