The University of Michigan is requiring all students, faculty and staff on all three U-M campuses to get a COVID-19 booster shot as one of several enhanced mitigation measures to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 during the winter 2022 academic term.
Additionally, the omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 has been detected within the U-M community on the Ann Arbor campus, and campus public health officials are working closely with the Washtenaw County Health Department to develop further mitigation strategies.
The university is encouraging community members to stay vigilant, wear masks when around others indoors, get tested before departing campus and isolate immediately if symptoms develop or they test positive.
The Ann Arbor campus will continue with in-person activities through the final days of the fall 2021 term, including hosting an in-person commencement Dec. 19. In-person classes for the winter term are scheduled to resume Jan. 5.
“The existing mitigation strategies have allowed our campuses to have a successful in-person fall experience, which has benefited our entire community in so many ways despite the ongoing pandemic,” said Robert Ernst, associate vice president for student life and director of the Campus Health Response Committee.
“From the high vaccination rate and required weekly testing for those who are not fully vaccinated, layered on top of indoor masking, prompt case investigation and contact tracing and our wastewater surveillance program, we’ve maintained an environment on campus that has allowed our community to return to many of the pre-pandemic experiences that were missed in 2020. We continue to take additional precautions to help keep our community safe, healthy and together.”
New COVID-19 mitigation measures for winter term include:
COVID-19 boosters required
A COVID-19 booster shot is required for all faculty, staff and students on the Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses, including Michigan Medicine, under a revised U-M vaccination policy.
The deadline for the Ann Arbor campus to receive the booster shot is Feb. 4 or as soon as they are eligible thereafter, based on their individual vaccination schedule. Each campus and Michigan Medicine will provide implementation details when they are finalized, including how members of the U-M community can self-report their COVID-19 booster information.
U-M officials are urging university community members to get a booster shot as soon as possible and wherever the booster is available to them including during the winter break.
Increased testing expectations
All students living in the residence halls will be required to test for COVID-19 upon arrival to campus through the Community Sampling and Tracking Program. Testing details will be communicated directly to housing residents soon.
All students, faculty and staff, regardless of vaccination status, are strongly encouraged to get tested upon returning to campus and before attending social gatherings within the U-M community. Testing for asymptomatic COVID-19 is available on campus through the Community Tracking and Sampling Program.
Face coverings in the residence halls
All students will be expected to wear a face covering, regardless of vaccination status, while in common areas of their residence halls. This change will be effective Jan. 2 through at least Jan. 17. Previously, fully vaccinated students were able to forgo masking while in the common areas of their assigned residence hall.
Under the U-M face-covering policy, all students, staff, faculty and visitors must wear a face covering that covers their mouth and nose while indoors and while on U-M transportation, regardless of vaccination status. Exceptions for certain circumstances are outlined in the policy, such as while one is alone in an enclosed office with the door closed or is actively eating or drinking.
U-M officials remind the community that wearing masks is an effective measure in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and that masks also provide protection against exposure to the virus for the individual wearing the mask.
Winter Commencement will be hosted in-person on Dec. 19. Graduating students and their guests will be required to wear masks, consistent with U-M face covering policy, and complete the ResponsiBLUE or ResponsiBLUE Guest health screening before entering Crisler Center for the event. Concessions will not be offered.
The new measures are in addition to the current COVID-19 mitigation strategies in place, including:
- Mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for all students, faculty and staff with limited exemptions for religious or medical reasons.
- Required weekly testing for those who are not fully vaccinated.
- Required face coverings while indoors on campus property or on U-M transportation.
- Requirement that all members of the U-M community coming to campus use ResponsiBLUE, the daily symptom-checker app, and refrain from coming to campus if ill.
- Wastewater surveillance of campus and surrounding areas, which is designed to detect any increases in cases or hotspots of COVID-19 in the community.