UM to require proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test for on-campus events

Hani Barghouthi
The Detroit News

Winter classes at the University of Michigan will resume in-person Jan. 5, but there will be more campus safety protocols, including proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test for anyone attending on-campus ticketed performances and sporting events, UM said Tuesday. 

The plan to move ahead with in-person learning amid the pandemic was based in part on the success of the fall semester with “very high levels of vaccination and excellent compliance with our rules around indoor face coverings,” according to an email from President Mark Schlissel and Provost Susan Collins. 

“We are prioritizing student learning, the pedagogical needs of our academic programs and the enriching classroom interactions that can’t be fully replicated remotely,” Schlissel and Collins said.

Besides a requirement that visitors provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of an on-campus event, the university is implementing a host of other health and safety rules for the winter semester, noted UM spokesman Rick Fitzgerald in a Tuesday news release. 

The plan to move ahead with in-person classes amid the pandemic was based in part on the success of the fall semester with “very high levels of vaccination and excellent compliance with our rules around indoor face coverings,” according to an email from President Mark Schlissel and Provost Susan Collins.

Among them, a COVID-19 test upon arrival for students who live on campus and mandatory COVID-19 vaccine boosters for all students, faculty and staff on all campuses, including Michigan Medicine, with a reporting deadline of Feb. 4. 

Students also are required to wear face coverings in the common areas of residence halls and in sports facilities, said Fitzgerald, at least through Jan. 17, and the university will recommend that food and drink not be served at on-campus gatherings to minimize the need to remove face coverings. Indoor transit mask requirements will also remain in effect. 

“Over the break, some of us have experienced holiday events where family members were unable to attend due to testing positive for COVID-19,” Collins and Schlissel said. “The more-rapid spread of the omicron variant, now the dominant strain in the United States, means that greater case numbers are likely here, as they have been around the state and nation.

“These cases seem to be milder than earlier in the pandemic, and those who are vaccinated and boosted almost never get seriously ill. We ask for everyone’s continued vigilance and care as we tackle this next phase of the pandemic. Both of these qualities were essential to our fall term’s success.”

UM's announcement Tuesday comes after Wayne State University's decision to move classes online for the first month of the winter semester, and Oakland University's for the first two weeks, both announced last week. 

On Wednesday, Michigan State University said its plan to reopen classes in person Jan. 10 remain in person.

In an email message, MSU president Samuel Stanley Jr. said the rate of spread in mid-Michigan is similar to the rate at the end of fall semester.

"Throughout this past semester, our campus protocols worked effectively and the classroom continues to be a safe environment for teaching and learning. As such, we are continuing with our plans to start the Spring 2022 semester in-person on Jan. 10," Stanley wrote in the email.

halbarghouthi@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @HaniBarghouthi