COVID-19 prevention guidance issued ahead of academic break

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The University of Michigan is sharing guidance and reminders for faculty, staff and students related to COVID-19 prevention as the community prepares for the academic break and associated travel and gatherings this holiday season.

“COVID-19 case activity on campus has returned to the elevated levels seen before the Thanksgiving break,” said Robert Ernst, associate vice president of student life and director of the Campus Health Response Committee.

“With the growing presence of the omicron variant in the U.S. and now Michigan paired with many members of our community planning to return to their permanent residence or travel abroad during the break, we want to remind everyone of the important prevention strategies to keep them healthy.”

Booster shots

In alignment with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the university recommends that everyone ages 16 and older get a booster shot. Individuals should get their booster six months after completing either the Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccines or two months after the single dose J&J vaccine.

Walk-in appointments are available on campus Dec. 10 and 13, and appointments can be made at the University Health Service, Michigan Medicine and at local pharmacies.

The CDC continues to recognize individuals who have completed a two-dose or single-dose vaccine series as fully vaccinated, and therefore the COVID-19 booster is not required under the U-M COVID-19 Vaccination Policy at this time.

Testing recommendations and requirements

Recommendations for COVID-19 testing before and after travel depend upon an individual’s vaccination status and travel destination.

Most international destinations require a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 as an entry requirement. For example, a negative test result is required no more than one day before individuals travel by air into the United States.

International students, scholars or employees (i.e., those who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents) are required — in addition to having a negative test — to show proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before traveling by air to the U.S. from a foreign country.

The U.S. Department of State provides COVID-19 information by country and includes entry and exit requirements.

Fully vaccinated individuals traveling domestically are encouraged to get tested before and after travel, while unvaccinated individuals should get a second test in addition to their required weekly test during both the week of their departure and the week of their return to campus.

Testing is available through the Community Sampling and Tracking Program, however, some test site hours may be reduced during the break.

International travel preparations

The university is urging all international travelers to register their upcoming travel in the university’s travel registry. By sharing travel information, the Global Engagement team can quickly and accurately locate U-M travelers in case of an emergency.

Travelers also are encouraged to verify that they meet the entry requirements for their travel destination or destinations and for all flight-transfer locations, and to review the Considerations for Planning International Travel During COVID-19 document.

Holiday gathering advisory

The Campus Health Response Committee has issued guidance regarding social gatherings on campus as the community approaches the holidays.

While U-M is a highly vaccinated community — with 98 percent of students and faculty and 91 percent of staff verified as fully vaccinated — case investigation has shown that breakthrough infections are occurring.

Specifically, social gatherings are higher in risk when masking is not in place or when held in poorly ventilated areas. CHRC recommendations include:

  • Adhering to the U-M face covering policy.
  • Minimizing unmasked interactions at events, including eating and drinking unless it can be done in a socially distanced manner.
  • Restricting event attendance to U-M community members only.
  • Checking guests with ResponsiBLUE.

Mandatory testing compliance

Students, faculty and staff who are required to complete weekly testing are not required to do so while absent from campus for one week or longer, but they will need to ensure they are in compliance with testing prior to returning to work or campus.

Testing information can be found on the Campus Maize & Blueprint website.

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