Northern Michigan University will comply with today's Michigan Department of Health and Human Services' decision to extend its epidemic order through mid-January. The extension will not impact the previously planned start of winter semester classes on Tuesday, Jan. 19. It will delay the reopening of campus residence halls to Jan. 15, which will result in a slightly modified schedule for mass COVID-19 testing before the semester gets underway.
In a campus-wide email, NMU President Fritz Erickson said the timing of the DHHS extension is strategic because it gives a full 14-day incubation period of the COVID-19 virus following any New Year's Eve and New Year's Day gatherings. That will reduce the risk of spread as individuals return to sharing classrooms and labs, along with housing, offices and other campus spaces.
"We are in discussion about how the first four days of classes (Jan. 19-22) should be held—remote or in personremote or in person—in relationship to our required COVID-19 testing. I'll update you when we finalize that decision. The key point is that classes will begin Jan. 19, as scheduled."
Residence halls were scheduled to open Saturday, Jan. 9, but will now open Friday, Jan. 15. Students scheduled to be in the halls earlier due to university-related commitments will be able to come back at their previously arranged times.
Northern will conduct COVID-19 testing of students, faculty and staff as it did before the fall semester. The testing had been scheduled to take place Jan. 4-18. Erickson said a new schedule that accommodates the later residence hall opening will be distributed before the end of December, along with a link to sign up for a test time.
"As indicated in an earlier email, this semester there is the option to test outside of NMU's event and upload the results into a database," Erickson wrote. "Most insurances cover the cost of a COVID-19 test. Northern will post $25 of CatCash to NMU accounts for use at campus eateries toward these external tests, which help decrease the number of tests NMU needs to perform in the short period before classes begin."
Erickson said more details will be announced in future emails.