COVID-19 Campus Update: March 30, 2020

To the Eastern Michigan University community:

We have several important updates for you today as the University’s continues its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including a very important deadline for students living on campus.

Deadline for residence hall/ on-campus apartments move-out

Tomorrow is the deadline for students to move out of their residence halls or on-campus apartments. As stated in several previous messages, to be eligible for the housing and/or dining credit all personal items must be removed from on-campus housing and formal checkout and keys must be returned no later than tomorrow, March 31 at 5 p.m. Students will not receive a credit if they have not removed their belongings and completed the formal checkout process/key return by that date and time.

A few students and parents have asked if coming to campus would violate the Governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order. The Governor’s executive order does allows travel for such purposes, as noted in Section 7(b) of the order:

Individuals may also travel:
(1) To return to a home or place of residence from outside this state.
(2) To leave this state for a home or residence elsewhere.
(3) To travel between two residences in this state.

Students moving their belongings from campus to their permanent residence fall within the above exceptions.

We understand that for some Eastern is a permanent address, or a destination for international students and students from far away in the U.S. Other students have other special circumstances that affect their ability to return to their permanent place of residence.

Please contact the housing office if you have questions about this process. As indicated previously, students who remain in campus housing may be asked to change rooms or consolidate based on total occupancy.

Update for employees working remotely

Employees working remotely will continue to do so until communicated otherwise. This applies to all employees other than those designated as a critical infrastructure worker or necessary to conduct minimum basic operations under the terms of the Governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order. We will keep you advised as any new directives are issued.

Working remotely presents distinct challenges for those who have not done so in the past. Our Learning and Organizational Development office has developed the following Tips For Maximizing Your Productivity While Working From Home.

New Psychology Department chatbot provides additional support for students

The EMU Psychology Department, in collaboration with X2ai.com, is conducting a research study that will provide all EMU students free access to a mental health chatbot during the COVID-19 crisis. "Tess" is an artificial intelligence-driven chatbot that is trained to deliver evidence-based emotional wellness and coping strategies in this difficult time. To learn more about the study and how to access this resource, please click hereyou can enter the study directly by clicking the link at the bottom of the flyer, but you may also receive an email from the investigators in the near future, asking you if you would like to join the project. We encourage you to take advantage of this free service by participating in our study. Please contact the primary investigator, Dr. Karen Saules (ksaules@emich.edu) or co-investigator, Krithika Prakash (kprakash@emich.edu), if you have any questions.

This effort complements the important and ongoing efforts of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), which has transitioned to fully phone and video sessions with Zoom. If students have questions or need to speak with a counselor, they should email CAPS at counseling.services@emich.edu and communicate their interest. Phone messages can be left at 734.487.1118 and will be returned as soon as possible. CAPS will also continue to offer after-hours (after 5 p.m. and on weekends) phone support through its main CAPS phone line, 734.487.1118. 

Hospital and healthcare organizations requests for donations, supplies and volunteers

Several offices and individuals across the University have been contacted by hospitals and other healthcare organizations with requests for donations, supplies and volunteers. In some cases, the outside organizations have contacted several different offices at the University seeking assistance. This has led to different offices and individuals working to fulfill the same requests as other colleagues on campus. We have designated the Engage @ EMU office as the central point for coordinating the University response to these varied, and in some cases duplicate, requests. If you receive a request from a hospital or healthcare agency, please direct it to Engage @ EMU at emu_engage@emich.edu.

State of Michigan launches COVID-19 volunteer website

Governor Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services have launched a new volunteer website, www.michigan.gov/fightcovid19, where trained medical professionals can register to serve their fellow Michiganders by assisting hospitals in fighting COVID-19. Other state residents also can use the site to find out how they can help in their local communities, give blood, donate money or needed medical supplies, or assist public health officials in tracking infections.

Returning books to Halle Library

The library is not accepting returned books at this time. Fines are not being assessed. The library is working on a procedure for how to return books once the University resumes in-person operations.

Donations to Student Emergency Fund and Swoops Food Pantry

The Eastern Michigan University community continues to step up to support our students. I am pleased to announce that over the last two weeks the EMU Student Emergency Fund has received 34 gifts totaling $2,647, while Swoop’s has received 106 gifts totaling $10,046. Thank you to everyone who is supporting these important initiatives! Donations can be directed to:


 Swoop’s Food Pantry hours this week, items in need

The John and Angie Sabo Swoop’s Food Pantry Room will be open tomorrow, Tuesday (3/31) and Thursday (4/2) from noon – 3:30 p.m. Clients are requested to complete an online shopping request form before arriving. Items will be bagged by staff and brought out to clients when they arrive. Visitors to Swoop’s can enter through the main entrance on the north side of Pierce Hall near the elevator. Swoop’s requires any student who has not used the pantry this year to complete the Swoop's Food Pantry Intake Form.

Swoop’s “hot list” of needed items includes:

  • Tofu and other meat alternatives
  • Non-dairy milk such as almond, soy, or coconut milk
  • Bread and flour tortillas
  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Pasta and pasta sauce
  • Rice and rice sides 
  • BBQ sauce
  • Can openers
  • Toilet paper 
  • Board games and puzzles
  • Coloring books, crayons, colored pencils
  • Bubble bath, shower gel, bath bombs


For those wishing to make donations, drop-off days and times are Tuesday (3/31) and Thursday (4/2) from 10 a.m. – noon. Donations can be dropped off to The John and Angie Sabo Swoop's Food Pantry Room in 104 Pierce Hall. Swoop’s can pick up items up from your porch for those in the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area. Send an email swoops_pantry@emich.edu to arrange a donation pickup.

Moving forward

We have made it a priority to update our campus community regularly as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold. Given the growing number of cases both in the county and statewide, the Washtenaw County Health Department (WCHD) no longer issues public announcements about individual cases. The majority of our student body and employees have not been on campus since Wednesday, March 11, more than two-and-a-half weeks ago. Given that time lapse, it is no longer likely that students or employees who test positive would have had close contact with others on campus. Additionally, this time frame is beyond the period of exposure. Anyone who has had close contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19 during the period of high risk would be contacted and provided directions by the Health Department typically between 36 and 48 hours after receiving test results. Moving forward, the University will no longer issue announcements about individual cases, unless circumstances warrant. Due to federal privacy laws, no personal details or further information about individuals who test positive is permitted to be released. The health department has an established protocol to track close contacts of any individual who tests positive and will notify anyone who may be at risk.  

We continue to identify positive efforts to support others in these challenging times, as exemplified in this story reported on WDIV-TV’s website. Please continue to forward positive stories and any corresponding photos to univcomm@emich.edu so that we can share them with the rest of our community.

Our faculty members continue to share their expertise regarding COVID-19. Epidemiologist and Associate Professor of Health Administration Dr. Beverly Mihalko offered practical advice for protecting ourselves during an interview segment this afternoon on WEMU. 

As Dr. Mihalko noted, please continue to follow physical distancing guidance, as well as hand washing and other prevention measures. Follow your University email, the University’s COVID-19 website and our Frequently Asked Questions for additional information and updates, as well as resources to help keep you safe.

James Smith, Ph.D.

March 30, 2020

Written by:
James Smith

Contact:
Geoff Larcom
glarcom@emich.edu
734-417-9658