UM will require COVID-19 vaccine for students living on campus

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News

University of Michigan leaders in Ann Arbor and Dearborn have set requirements for students to return to campus this fall.

On Friday, UM President Mark Schlissel said on Twitter that students living on the Ann Arbor campus this fall must be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

"We know that widespread vaccination will be the only way to facilitate a return to normal and robust campus life," Martino Harmon, vice president for student life, said in a statement. "And we would like to provide a living environment for students this coming fall that is as close to the fall of 2019, pre-COVID-19, as possible."

Harmon said UM's Ann Arbor campus is not mandating a vaccine, "but rather a choice to live in communal living and therefore make the choice to get vaccinated."

Students living on campus must be fully vaccinated and provide proof to the university by July 15. Fully vaccinated means two weeks have passed since a student received a single-dose vaccine or the second dose of a two-dose vaccine series. An objection option will also be available.

About 31% of UM's students live in university housing. During the current semester, 46,170 students are enrolled. 

"Congregate living settings, like residence halls, are at high risk for spread of illness, especially with B.1.1.7 and other variants that spread more easily," said F. DuBois Bowman, dean of the UM School of Public Health. "Vaccination is a key prevention tool to be used in this space, and beyond, to reduce the spread of COVID-19."

UM-Dearborn will have tougher rules. On Friday campus officials announced that students, faculty and staff returning for the fall semester must either provide documentation they have received a COVID-19 vaccine or evidence of a weekly negative PCR test.

The requirement for UM-Dearborn students is effective beginning Sept. 1.

"Throughout the pandemic the university has fulfilled its mission of educating our students, while prioritizing the health and safety of our campus community,” said Domenico Grasso, chancellor, UM-Dearborn. “This announcement allows us to move forward with our plans of a return to on-campus activities, which we know are so important for student success, while continuing to keep our campus community safe and healthy.” 

Students, faculty and staff who choose to get tested rather than vaccinated will be responsible for the cost of testing, said UM spokeswoman Beth Marmarelli.

"We will continue to share free testing resources with the campus community and are exploring options to provide testing opportunities on campus," Marmarelli said.

Expectations for students at UM-Flint have not been announced.

"We are still evaluating vaccination and testing plans for the fall and will make an announcement later this summer," said spokeswoman Jennifer Hogan. 

Oakland University became the first public university in the state to announce earlier this month it would require students who live on campus to get a vaccine.

Wayne State University is offering students a $10 credit to use toward a meal on or off campus if they get vaccinated.

When asked last week if Michigan State University would require students to get a vaccine, President Samuel Stanley said the issue is being discussed but no decisions have been made.

Twitter: @kimberkoz