A recent state order to curb new cases of COVID-19 will not restrict the University of Michigan’s research enterprise, but university leadership will adjust some human subjects research policies to protect the health and safety of researchers and participants.

That was among information shared in a Nov. 16 email from President Mark Schlissel and Provost Susan M. Collins updating the U-M community on the impact of the latest COVID-19 safety order by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

The order’s main impact on U-M is that all classes, except for those associated with training medical professionals and first responders, must be fully remote starting Nov. 18. The university already had planned to teach fall semester courses remotely after Nov. 20.

The latest state order, announced Nov. 15, will be effective for three weeks, starting Nov. 18.

“Over the past several months, we have been asked to continually adjust our activities to help protect the health and safety of the larger community. We know this will cause some disruptions in a few courses and labs that were meeting in person through Friday — and we appreciate everyone’s continued diligence and resilience as we work to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Schlissel and Collins wrote.

The changes to human subjects research policies, while not directly related to the state order, were undertaken “as we experience highly concerning increases in the incidence of COVID-19 locally and statewide,” they said.

In an update for the U-M research community, Vice President for Research Rebecca Cunningham said certain Tier 2 human research studies should prepare to pause in-person activity with research participants by Nov. 20 at the latest.

Otherwise, research laboratories will remain at 60 percent density, Schlissel and Collins wrote. Undergraduate students across all three campuses are still eligible to participate in in-person research and scholarship at the discretion of their principal investigator.

The state order allows U-M to continue providing individual access to study spaces, libraries, museums and exercise at recreation facilities. Students, faculty and staff may still come to campus to receive medical care, including COVID-19 testing.

Schlissel and Collins also reminded employees that everyone who can work from home should continue to do so, and they offered guidelines for safe travel and celebrating safely during the coming holiday season.

Under the state order, intercollegiate athletics may continue, although no spectators will be allowed, including parents who had been able to watch in person on a limited basis. Most other campus gatherings also are prohibited.

Tags: