BLOG: COVID-19 communications

Monitoring increase in COVID-19 cases at CMU

Dear students, friends and colleagues,

As anticipated, we have seen a significant increase in the number of positive cases of COVID-19 within our campus community. Due to the high transmissibility of the omicron variant, this increase was expected and, although the spike in numbers is unsettling, we are prepared to manage the associated risks.

This week, we have reported 112 new cases within the CMU community, just under 1% of our total campus population. As cases increase, however, so do the number of individuals choosing to receive vaccinations and/or boosters. Our campus community has an overall vaccination rate above 80% at present, with new individuals choosing to receive their vaccines and booster doses through our campus clinics.

Walk-in clinics are offered in the Bovee University Center next week on Jan. 18 and 25, by appointment at the Finch Fieldhouse clinic Jan. 28 and Feb. 25, and by appointment at University Health Services by calling 989-774-6599.

CMU will continue to offer in-person instruction

Since the pandemic began, our goal has been the same: Remain open and operational to continue our vital educational mission while protecting the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff. Like many of our peer institutions in Michigan and beyond, we carefully weighed the option to transition to remote instruction. Nationwide, institutions that chose to return in person and institutions that opted for remote instruction have seen significant spikes; the virus appears to be pervasive regardless of the teaching and learning modality. We know we will continue to see increases on our campus over the next few weeks as well.

After discussing the benefits and drawbacks of this option and considering the feedback we have received through phone calls, emails, social media, and petitions representing a wide range of preferences and expertise, we have decided to continue in-person instruction at this time.

We know not everyone agrees with this choice, and that is understandable. We are a diverse community of individuals representing a variety of perspectives and expectations. We hold a wide range of beliefs and opinions, and our stakeholders include not only students, faculty and staff, but also community partners, employers, local and state leaders, and more. As a public institution of higher education, we are responsible to them all, and we take this responsibility very seriously.

As we have done since March 2020, university leaders will continue to monitor the virus trends on our campus and in our local community, assessing our circumstances using a variety of data points. These include, but are not limited to, the number of new cases and active cases, percentage of total population, capacity of isolation and quarantine facilities, and status of health care providers in the area. We will follow the most current guidance from local, state and national health leaders, and we will keep abreast of best practices and research. And, as we do so, we will continue to keep our university community informed if changes are necessary.

Be vigilant and take precautions

COVID-19 and its variants have been part of our lives for nearly two years, and we are well-acquainted with the health and safety practices that minimize virus spread. Each of us bears responsibility to protect ourselves and others by:

  • Staying home when we are sick, have symptoms of COVID-19 or test positive for the virus.
  • Getting vaccinated (including the vaccine booster) or participating in weekly testing.
  • Wearing masks in most indoor locations.
  • Using the health screen app/website every day we are on campus.
These tried-and-true practices cannot fully prevent virus transmission, but they can significantly reduce our risk of exposure and the risk of infecting others. Remember, too, that vaccines and boosters offer the strongest protection against serious illness. If you have not yet received your vaccine and/or booster, please consider doing so now.

As we anticipate cases will continue to rise over the next few weeks, we are making minor adjustments to our plans for in-person events, including MLK week activities. We still expect to be able to offer engaging experiences for students, faculty and staff — be on the lookout for updates in the days ahead.

Be flexible, adaptable and kind

We all are impacted by the ongoing pandemic and will likely encounter some inconveniences and frustrations as a result. In stressful times, it is vitally important to treat ourselves and others with compassion and understanding. For example, we ask:

  • Faculty to work with students who have to miss classes due to illness or required isolation/quarantine.
  • Students to be understanding when faculty and staff members are impacted by the virus, resulting in disruptions to classes or delays in services.
  • Staff to accommodate students, faculty and colleagues whose availability, priorities and timelines may shift as a result of COVID-related issues.
And we ask everyone to be patient and kind to one another. This continues to be a difficult time, but we will continue to persevere. After all, we are a community that lifts each other up. We treat others as we wish to be treated, and we offer everyone — including ourselves — a little extra grace and understanding.

Thank you

Once again, our university community is navigating a challenging situation, and we all are experiencing increased stress. Thank you for continuing to work hard to move our community forward, and for all you do to support one another. 

Blog: COVID-19 communications posted | Author: by Bob Davies, Ph.D. | Categories: COVID-19 President's Office
The views and opinions expressed in these blog pages are strictly those of the page author.