A roundup of U-M news related to COVID-19.
University offers refund to housing residents who move out
The university is offering a $1,200 refund for all students who have already moved out of university housing or are able to move out by March 25. The offer applies to the 2019-20 contract year for all undergraduate and graduate students able to vacate their university residence hall or university apartment by 5 p.m. March 25.
Simone Himbeault Taylor, interim vice president for student life, and Kambiz Khalili, associate vice president for student life, auxiliary services, made the announcement in a letter sent March 20 to all residents of university housing.
It gave details for how the refund will be administered, and shared other information for students who have moved out or are planning to do so, including how to retrieve any belongings left behind.
University residence halls will remain open for all students who need to remain on campus, the letter said. “For safety reasons, some students may need to leave their existing rooms, but will be living in single occupancy rooms,” it said. Boxed-meal service will continue from Michigan Dining.
U-M units provide many online offerings during pandemic
U-M is providing multiple opportunities to learn and explore online while staying at home during the coronavirus pandemic.
The university’s art and performance organizations and its libraries have many exhibits, performances, speakers and other enriching resources online. Many museums, galleries and units across campus are currently working to create online content to assist K-12 and college learners.
Through Michigan Online, U-M has several online learning opportunities for those who want to try something new, sharpen an existing skill, or just be enriched. U-M currently has a portfolio of more than 180 online learning opportunities. View a more detailed list of all these offerings.
— Laurel Thomas and Sydney Hawkins, Michigan News
Library closures and remote resources
Although all U-M Library buildings are closed at this time, most library resources and services are available to the U-M community remotely.
Remote service includes consultations, course-integrated instruction sessions, and other support from library specialists; Ask a Librarian consultations; streaming audio and video; access to online resources using U-M credentials.
Those who have items currently checked out are asked to renew them online. People will not be penalized for late returns. For more information, go to umlib.us/remote.
— Emily Buckler, U-M Library
Responding to emergent community needs
In its role as a civic and community engagement center at U-M, the Ginsberg Center is working to make accessing and coordinating information easier during the evolving COVID-19 crisis. Ginsberg is working with other engagement units across U-M to align and amplify efforts where possible for maximum impact.
To that end, the center’s Connect2Community portal helps U-M community members access a collection of continually-updated and emergent community-identified needs and opportunities that might be in keeping with staff and faculty areas of practice, research or expertise. Visit the portal at connect2community.umich.edu.
— Julia Smillie, Ginsberg Center
How to think about coronavirus like a public health expert
If there was a single theme that defined the coronavirus pandemic response over the past week, it might be that we’re all starting to see the world the way public health experts do.
Terms like “social distancing,” “pandemic,” and “flattening the curve” have become part of our everyday vocabularies. Social media is filled with examples of friends pleading with each other to stay home and “shelter in place” rather than go on with business as usual.
To keep nurturing those burgeoning public health instincts, Patricia Wren, public health professor and chair of UM-Dearborn’s Department of Health and Human Services, shared her thoughts on our collective response to the pandemic. Read a Q&A.
— U-M Dearborn Communications
U-M startup offers free coronavirus sequencing kits
As doctors, scientists and governments try to get a grip on COVID-19, the U-M startup Arbor Biosciences is providing free kits to capture the genetic code of virus samples. Variations in that code reveal how the virus has morphed over time — for instance, enabling it to change from an animal disease to one that can be passed from one human to another.
The information could help shed light on how the genes of the virus, SARS-CoV-2, cause the symptoms of the disease COVID-19. But more important in the long run, it could help reveal the factors that enabled the virus to become infectious in humans.
Read a Q&A with Jean-Marie Rouillard, an assistant research scientist in chemical engineering in the College of Engineering and co-founder and director of technology at Arbor Biosciences, and Alison Devault, director of genomics at Arbor Biosciences.
— Kate McAlpine, College of Engineering