Nearly 400 UM students have building access revoked after not complying with COVID rules

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Nearly 400 University of Michigan undergraduate students had their access to non-residential campus buildings deactivated Tuesday for not complying with the school's mandatory COVID-19 testing requirements, officials said.

The Compliance and Accountability Team emailed 375 UM students to let them know their Mcard, which would typically allow them access to facilities around campus, was being deactivated. 

According to the Tuesday email, the team had tried to reach the students multiple times before taking action. The students either hadn't been tested in the last three weeks or did not have a prior test on file and had used campus facilities at least once this term.

UM announced in February that all students who live, work, attend classes on campus or access campus buildings and facilities would be required to complete weekly COVID-19 testing through the college's Community Sampling and Tracking Program. 

"The notification sent on Tuesday should not come as a surprise to the recipients," Sarah Daniels, associate dean of students and a member of the Compliance and Accountability Team, said in a release. "Prior to this notification, students were sent reminders via email and ResponsiBLUE that they needed to complete their weekly test because they are in the mandatory testing cohort."

University of Michigan students head toward The Diag on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2021.

UM expanded testing and contact tracing efforts after the appearance of the B.1.1.7. variant in the community. The initial case of the variant in Michigan was recorded on Jan. 16 after a UM student returned from the United Kingdom and went shopping at Ann Arbor retail stores.

The expansion of weekly testing is necessary as case management and contact tracing efforts on campus have "consistently demonstrated that social gatherings among graduate and undergraduate students alike continue to fuel the spread of COVID-19 within our community," officials said in a message to students.

As of Tuesday, Michigan has the second-most cases of the virus variant B.1.1.7. with 437 cases, although 300 cases are within the Michigan Department of Corrections. The variant has spread to 19 counties in Michigan. Florida has 600 cases of the variant.

Loss of building access is one of the penalties for students who don't comply with COVID-19 policies. Others include being placed on probation, canceling housing contracts and referral of a complaint to formal student conduct processes.

Those in UM residential housing should still be able to access those buildings, university officials said. Nearly 98% of undergraduate students who live in the residence halls on campus have complied with mandatory testing requirements thus far, the Compliance and Accountability Team said. 

To regain access, students can either get tested through the Community Sampling and Tracking Program — or the University Health Service if they show symptoms — or submit a request for an exemption if they believe they should not be part of the mandatory testing group.

Students should then request Mcard reactivation and be able to verify how they resolved the issue. Students with questions about their Mcard access related to testing compliance should email COVID19TestingCompliance@umich.edu.

U-M officials report COVID-19 cases related to students are continuing to decrease significantly and now represent approximately 27% of the total cases in Washtenaw County.

cramirez@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @CharlesERamirez