University COVID-19 prevention measures remain for winter term

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Building off the success of the fall term, students, faculty and staff at the University of Michigan can expect many of the same COVID-19 protections and community expectations this winter to support another productive and healthy academic term.

Indoor masking, weekly testing for the small fraction of the community who have vaccine exemptions, and daily use of ResponsiBLUE are among the mitigation strategies that will continue.

Here are the top things to know for the winter 2022 term:

  • COVID-19 vaccines are required, with limited exemptions, for all students, faculty and staff.
  • The U-M campus community is highly vaccinated. As of Nov. 11, 98 percent of students, 98 percent of faculty and 90 percent of staff on the Ann Arbor campus were verified as fully vaccinated. Additionally, 89 percent of Michigan Medicine employees were verified as fully vaccinated.
  • Class formats will remain mostly in-person with some hybrid and remote options.
  • Face coverings remain required indoors and on U-M transportation regardless of one’s vaccination status. This is subject to change based on evolving circumstances.
  • All members of the U-M community coming to campus are required to use ResponsiBLUE, the daily symptom checker.
  • Testing for asymptomatic COVID-19 remains available through the Community Tracking and Sampling Program for those who want it or who are required to test weekly.
  • People should stay home if they are sick. This helps reduce the likelihood of spreading a range of infections including COVID, influenza and other illnesses.

COVID-19 vaccine required

All students, faculty and staff are required to submit proof of their COVID-19 vaccination or request an exemption under the U-M COVID-19 Vaccination Policy. New federal COVID-19 vaccination mandates apply to bargained-for U-M employees on all three campuses who were not previously covered by the university’s vaccination policy.

Stricter accountability measures — including dismissal —  have been established for employees who do not report their vaccination information or obtain an exemption as required under the university’s COVID-19 vaccination policy.

Vaccines are available through Michigan Medicine, University Health Service and Occupational Health Services as well as local pharmacies.

While breakthrough infections — positive tests among those vaccinated — occur with every vaccine, health officials say vaccines reduce the risk of infection and greatly reduce the likelihood of severe illness, even with the COVID-19 delta variant.

The university is providing limited exemptions to its COVID-19 vaccination policy for medical or religious reasons. Those who receive an exemption are required to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing.

Class formats

Instruction in the winter will look much like the fall with more courses taught in-person, especially for graduate and professional students.

U-M officials report there has been no established association with COVID-19 transmission in classrooms due to the university’s high vaccination rate, indoor masking requirement and ventilation rates that exceed Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations.

Face coverings required indoors

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 on U-M transportation, regardless of vaccination status.

The CDC recommends masking indoors in public in areas of substantial or high transmission to maximize protection from the delta variant and prevent possible spread. Based upon the current Campus Metrics and Mitigation Strategies guidance, local transmission levels would need to return to low or moderate levels for indoor masking to be reconsidered.

The university policy cites limited exceptions in which a person is not required to wear a face covering indoors, including while alone in a single, enclosed, private office with the door closed, while actively eating or drinking, while giving a speech and maintaining 6 feet distance from others, or while receiving a health care service that requires them to temporarily take off their face covering.

A key exception to the policy allows for vaccinated students living on campus to not wear a face covering while in their own residence hall, including common areas.

COVID-19 testing

Testing for asymptomatic COVID-19 remains available through the Community Tracking and Sampling Program for those who want it or are required to test weekly.

Weekly testing is required for individuals who have received a medical or religious exemption under the vaccine policy, as well as for those who have started their vaccination series but are not yet considered fully vaccinated.

The weekly testing requirement will be waived for those individuals who received an exemption and are in fully remote situations, but it is expected that those individuals be tested within the previous week if they come to campus for any reason. ResponsiBLUE will track compliance with weekly testing for all students and employees granted vaccine exemptions, even those usually in a fully remote arrangement.

Individuals with symptoms of COVID-19 or a close-contact exposure should contact Occupational Health Services for faculty and staff, or University Health Service for students.

Housing requirements

The policies in place now for U-M Housing will continue next term. Nearly 99 percent of students residing in U-M Housing are fully vaccinated. Those in the residence halls for winter 2022 with approved vaccine exemptions will continue to be required to participate in mandatory weekly testing. Face coverings are not required for students while in their assigned residence hall or apartment including common areas, however unvaccinated students should continue to mask in common areas.

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