Washtenaw County Orders U-M Students to Stay in Place

University of Michigan undergraduate students living in on-campus, near-campus or off-campus housing have been ordered to “stay in place” and remain in their current designated residence.

The order takes effect immediately, and runs through at least Nov. 3.

The order, issued by Washtenaw County Health Officer Jimena Loveluck, recommends all students remain at their current address. Students who live in U-M housing may only return to their permanent address if they follow U-M testing and checkout procedures, the order states.

Under the order, students living in off-campus housing and returning to their permanent address are strongly recommended t0 undergo COVID-19 testing prior to leaving their current residence and stay in place at their permanent address for the duration of this order.

In a letter to students, U-M President Mark Schlissel agreed with the move, having noted that increases among students both on- and off-campus are “heightening the pressure” on case investigators, contact tracers and quarantine and isolation housing capacity.

“We fully support this action, as it enhances protections for our students and the welfare of our community,” Schlissel said. “We also are implementing steps beyond the order out of an abundance of caution and to provide choices for students and instructors, including moving more of our undergraduate courses to fully remote instruction.”

For the purposes of the order, “staying in place” means that gatherings or group activities shall not occur outside some exceptions:

  • Students will be allowed to attend in-person classes, including instructional labs. Strict adherence to preventive measures is required.
  • Students will be allowed to leave their room/residence for the purpose of picking up food and other basic needs, attending medical appointments, picking up medication, voting or election related activities at polling places, attending religious practice activities or obtaining COVID-19 testing. Strict adherence to preventive measures is required.
  • Students will be allowed to attend work with the approval of the employer, if the work cannot be done remotely. Strict adherence to preventive measures is required.
  • Students who have clinical rotations, student teaching or other off-campus experiential learning assignments that are held in person will be allowed to continue only with approval from the college dean and disclosure to the organization of placement such that both the school and site are aware and supportive of continued participation. Strict adherence to preventive measures is required.
  • Students will be allowed to leave their room/residence for purposes of physical activity outdoors in groups of no more than two. Strict adherence to preventive measures is required.
  • Students who are associated with intercollegiate varsity sports may attend practices and competitions provided that athletic medical staff is present during the entire process, actively supervises the team’s COVID-19 mitigation activities during the practice, has the authority to suspend the practice if he or she believes COVID-19 mitigation practices require that result, and testing is conducted per governing athletic organizations’ (i.e. Big10) policies.

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As of Oct. 19, there were 4,229 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in all of Washtenaw County since the beginning of the pandemic. The order says that, despite the efforts of Washtenaw County Health Department and many in the U-M community, there have been more than 1,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases among students at the U-M Ann Arbor campus since the start of the fall semester.

The majority of cases are among residence hall and off-campus students living in congregate settings (fraternities and sororities, cooperative housing, etc.) and appear to be driven by social gatherings both on and off campus.

There is current evidence that activity at or near the Ann Arbor campus is driven by social gatherings that do not adhere to the MDHHS epidemic orders and WCHD public health orders allowing indoor gatherings of no more than 10 individuals, with face coverings and a sustained distance of 6 feet or more between persons, according to the order.

According to the order, students are required to respond to inquiries (texts, emails or calls) from the WCHD and U- M-EHS and are required to fully disclose information relevant to case investigation and contact tracing.

Students who have tested positive for COVID-19 (cases), or who are identified as a close contact to a case, are required to adhere to all public health isolation and quarantine restrictions as set forth by the WCHD / U-M-EHS.

Strict preventive measures include adherence to the WCHD and U-M guidelines regarding COVID-19 prevention; maintaining 6-foot distance between persons; and wearing a face covering in compliance with U-M Face Covering Policy for COVID-19 and MDHHS Gathering Prohibition and Face Covering Order.

In-person gatherings with non-household members are strictly prohibited for the duration of this order. Under no circumstance are visitors permitted in on- or off-campus housing for the duration of this order. If a residence employs individuals to provide food preparation, cleaning, maintenance or repair services to the residents, such employees may be permitted to enter on- or off-campus housing.

If incidence of COVID-19 among U-M students and staff continue to be substantially above the rates of other Washtenaw County residents and/or if U-M COVID-19 response metrics continue to be exceeded the order may be extended beyond Nov. 3 and more restrictive measures may be required.