YPSILANTI -- Eastern Michigan University is delaying move-in for students living in residence halls until September 17 and transitioning nearly all fall semester classes to an online format through September 20. Fall semester courses begin on August 31. Residence hall move-in was scheduled to begin August 27 but will now be delayed by three weeks.
The decision follows an assessment by EMU’s Safe Return Steering Committee, the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, and the University’s Executive leadership team. Of central importance in the re-examination were the reopening of campuses across the country that have shown increased outbreaks of COVID-19 among students and challenges in limiting social gatherings and parties.
“From the outset of our planning process, we have stated that the health, safety and well-being of our campus community were paramount in our actions,” said James Smith, president of Eastern Michigan University. “We also made clear that we would evolve our planning in order to be responsive to the changing science, data, government directives and other critical information regarding COVID-19.
“The events of the last week at campuses across the region and nation demonstrate that despite the best efforts to keep students, employees and communities safe from transmission, the dangers of increasing the spread of the virus and the challenges of maintaining physical distance and safe behavior heading into Labor Day weekend remain quite serious.”
A small number of students such as international students, some student-athletes and other individuals have already moved in to residence halls and will be allowed to remain should they wish to do so during this time. Students who have made housing and dining deposits or payments will receive a full pro-rata credit of those deposits and payments for the time period between their original move-in day and their new move-in day.
In-person, on-campus courses were scheduled to make up approximately 20-25 percent of classes for the fall semester. Following today’s announcement, the University will transition most in-person classes to an online format for the start of the semester on August 31 through September 20.
There will be a small number of exceptions to allow in-person instruction primarily within the School of Nursing and other Schools in the College of Health and Human Services. Students will be notified individually of any exceptions as soon as possible and should check their email accounts for further direction between now and August 31.
“We understand the challenge and hardship that the uncertainty of all matters related to the COVID-19 pandemic has created for our students, their families, and our faculty and staff,” said President Smith. “All of our campus resources are directed to working closely with students affected by this decision to help them through this transition. We are committed to supporting them.”
Additional factors in the University’s decision to delay move-in and the start of in-person classes were the upcoming Labor Day holiday weekend and its potential impact on community case numbers as well as an expected increase in the capacity for increased rapid, reliable COVID-19 testing kits within the month.
“Health officials predict another spike in cases following the long Labor Day holiday weekend, not unlike what was experienced following Memorial Day weekend when the number of positive cases increased dramatically in early to mid June,” said President Smith. “The three-week delay in on-campus activity accommodates the 14-day incubation period for cases materializing during Labor Day weekend and allows us to have a safer move-in environment.
“The delay also provides us with additional time to identify and establish expanded COVID-19 testing protocols beyond the testing of all students moving in to residence halls that is currently underway. New testing providers and processes are increasing rapidly and we are working toward further testing of students and other members of our community as part of our planning for the return to on-campus activities on September 21.”
President Smith announced the message to the Eastern Michigan University community Monday morning, stating: “Without knowing the future, I cannot be 100 percent certain of any decision concerning this disease, but I believe a three-week delay in move-in is highly prudent and in the best interests of our campus. It gives us increased access to testing resources and vital information, as the semester begins; while continuing to place our emphasis where it belongs: on our students’ health and that of our entire university community
The full message can be found on President Smith’s communications page.
Find complete information about EMU's COVID-19 planning and preparedness on the University's coronavirus page.
About Eastern Michigan University
Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves nearly 18,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and, its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website.