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  • June 22, 2021, Updated mask policy, badging system, daily health survey

    Dear faculty, staff and students,

    As promised last week, we are announcing an updated mask policy, badging system and daily health survey. As of today, COVID-19 orders in the state of Michigan have been rescinded. The measures were rolled back early due to declining cases and increasing vaccination rates—once again emphasizing that widespread vaccination is our best path to putting this pandemic fully behind us. In this email you’ll find: 

    • Updated mask requirements
    • Daily health survey requirements
    • Rescinded capacity limits and an update to distancing and building access

    In accordance with the state’s orders and the case data available, Western is moving to Phase 1 of our COVID-19 Operational Response and Recovery Plan. We are updating our mask policy, badging system and use of our daily health survey accordingly. 

    Mask Requirements
    Effective July 6, masking will be required for students, faculty and staff indoors when on campus or any other University-controlled properties with the following exceptions:

    • You are fully vaccinated and verified by Sindecuse Health Center as indicated on your badge (more information below).
    • You have a medical exemption to not wear a mask.
    • You are the only person in a closed space, such as an office with a door, and visitors are not expected.
    • You are in your own campus residence.
    • You are eating or drinking.
    • You are receiving medical care.

    Visitors must wear a mask while indoors and must also complete the daily health survey.

    Daily Health Survey 
    At this time, all faculty, staff and students must complete the daily health survey before coming to campus. 

    On July 6, the health center will launch a new version of the survey and badging systems. At that time, the health survey policy will change as follows:

    Employees: As required by MIOSHA, all employees must complete the daily health survey before coming to campus each day. 

    Students: To enhance the safety of our campus, all students must complete the daily health survey before coming to campus each day, unless they have had their vaccination status verified by Sindecuse. Vaccination-verified students are not required to complete the daily health survey, and they will have a badge status indicating the same.

    Badging
    The enhanced version of the Sindecuse health survey and badging system will ease COVID-19 safety communication on campus. Each day, individuals will have a digital badge that indicates a status based on their answers to the daily health survey and their verified vaccination status. The badge quickly communicates one of three safety statuses:

    • The individual is exempt from wearing a mask on campus because their vaccination is verified and they (employees) also report no COVID-19 symptoms or exposure.
    • The individual must wear a mask while indoors on campus, consistent with the new masking policy, because they do not have a verified vaccination or they have indicated COVID-19 exposure or symptoms.
    • The individual should not be on campus today.

     

    Three phone screens displaying a green badge with no mask, a green badge with a mask and a red badge with an exclamation point.


    Unvaccinated faculty, staff and students should continue to socially distance 6 feet or to the maximum distance feasible.

    At the time of their classes, faculty may ask students to display their daily badge and supervisors may ask the same of employees and visitors to their unit. 

    Capacity Limits, Distancing and Additional Policy Changes 
    Effective immediately, all indoor and outdoor capacity limits have been eliminated on University-controlled property. 

    The COVID-19 Health and Safety Plan has been updated to a COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan in accordance with Michigan OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Rules. However, the department announced recent changes and we are evaluating appropriate adjustments to our practice.

    Effective July 6, summer building access will return to standard pre-pandemic summer operations. Please note that some areas have reduced summer staffing as a matter of pre-pandemic practice. Units should update their directories and websites to reflect up-to-date staffing and operating schedules. Everyone is encouraged to check unit websites for hours. Building and unit hours will no longer be maintained centrally.  

    While many measures are no longer required, those that remain are crucially important. Thank you for continuing to do your part for your health and our community. 

    Be smart. Be safe. Be Broncos.

    Sincerely, 

    Kara Wood
    Associate Vice President for Community Partnerships
    COVID-19 Response Coordination Team chair

    Gayle Ruggiero, M.D.
    Medical Director
    COVID-19 Response Coordination Team co-chair

    Lt. Andrew Bachmann
    WMU Department of Public Safety, Emergency Management
    COVID-19 Response Coordination Team co-chair

  • June 18, 2021, Vaccination Incentive Scholarships; updated COVID-19 safety protocols

    Dear students, faculty and staff,

    We have collectively kept our campus safe during the pandemic and, thanks to all of your efforts, we are well experienced in creating an environment that has protected our community. As we look forward to a much closer-to-normal fall and academic year, vaccines are now our most critical and readily available tool to safeguard ourselves and those around us. With that in mind, we are announcing a new initiative to increase vaccination rates and several other important updates, including:

    • Vaccination Incentive Scholarships for students of up to $10,000
    • COVID-19 protocol changes
    • A return to our normal new hire procedures
    • Also, look for an announcement next week with updates to our face covering policy and daily health survey, which are being modified to recognize vaccination status.

    COVID-19 Vaccination Incentive Program
    We hope by now you've been vaccinated. If not, there is still time to do so well before the fall semester starts. As an added incentive and in gratitude for keeping yourself and others safe by being immunized, fully vaccinated students and employees can receive a $5 Starbucks digital gift card after getting vaccinated at Sindecuse Health Center (SHC) or by uploading your vaccination documentation in the center's secure patient portal. Within 10 business days of SHC staff verifying your documentation, you will receive a message to your WMU email account notifying you of your digital gift card.

    Here's how it works:

    You may either get vaccinated at SHC or upload your vaccination documentation to Sindecuse's secure patient portal (You are fully vaccinated two weeks after your final shot). Acceptable documentation is an image of the COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card you received upon your final dose or a copy of your COVID-19 immunization record from your medical provider. While maintaining federal and state health information privacy laws, medical staff will verify the documentation against governmental immunization databases, a process that will take up to five business days for Michigan residents, or up to 10 days for records from other states or countries.

    Visit our Vaccination Registration and Verification Process page for step-by-step instructions on how to upload your vaccination documentation into the patient portal. This page also contains additional information, such as frequently asked questions.

    Additionally for students, verified proof of full vaccination as described above puts you in the running for scholarships worth between $500 and $10,000. To be eligible, students must be enrolled for fall classes and be fully vaccinated. Scholarships may be applied to tuition, fees, on-campus housing and campus dining.

    Under this program, the University is offering 60 scholarships:

    • Five $10,000 scholarships
    • Ten $2,500 scholarships
    • Twenty-five $1,000 scholarships
    • Twenty $500 scholarships

    The first three $10,000, first five $2,500 and first ten $1,000 scholarships will be drawn at the end of day on Aug. 6, with subsequent drawings on Sept. 6, Oct. 6, Nov. 6 and Dec. 6.
     
    Visit our COVID-19 Vaccination Incentive Program page for vaccine upload deadlines and terms and conditions. Please note that scholarships can impact financial aid packaging. Winners will be asked to contact Bronco Express to discuss the implications of receiving scholarship funding.

    COVID-19 protocol changes, effective immediately:
    There are no longer outdoor capacity limits on Western’s campus or University-controlled properties.

    In on-campus housing, the guest policy and capacity limits will return to pre-pandemic standards. For more information, please contact the Department of Housing and Residence Life at (269) 387-4735.

    Capacity limits have been elevated to 50% for indoor campus and University-controlled locations through 12:01 a.m. on June 22, when the state and Western will lift all limits on indoor capacity. This impacts venues such as the Bernhard Center, Dining Centers, the Student Recreation Center, Waldo Library and West Hills Athletic Club.  

    Hiring practices back to normal:
    Effective immediately, all divisions will return to the HR processes for new hires as they stood on March 1, 2020. Vice-presidential approval is no longer necessary, except in cases where it is required in a division’s standard hiring process.

    From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, combating the virus has called on each of us to exhibit extraordinary self-sacrifice, patience and grace. This was and still is the key to reaching full normality. We're now close to that reality because of your efforts to safeguard your health and that of your fellow Broncos. Thank you.

    Be smart. Be safe. Be Broncos.

    Sincerely,

    Kara Wood
    Associate Vice President for Community Partnerships
    COVID-19 Response Coordination Team chair

    Gayle Ruggiero, M.D.
    Medical Director
    COVID-19 Response Coordination Team co-chair

    Lt. Andrew Bachmann
    WMU Department of Public Safety, Emergency Management
    COVID-19 Response Coordination Team co-chair

  • May 24, 2021, Mask policy update for outdoor settings

    Dear WMU community,

    Today, we have a few campus updates and reminders to share:

    • POLICY UPDATE: Masks are not required to be worn outdoors unless in a gathering of 100 people or more
    • Masks remain required indoors, including in classrooms
    • Universitywide return to on-site work starts July 6
    • The travel approval process is back to pre-COVID-19 rules

    Outdoor mask use
    We continue to monitor developments in public health guidance, including recent updated recommendations on the use of facial coverings as a tool to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. In light of revised guidance, we have modified our mask policy. Effective immediately, the University will no longer require students, faculty, staff or visitors to wear masks outdoors on campus or in WMU-controlled outdoor areas when among fewer than 100 people. Of course, those who prefer to continue wearing a mask still have that option.

    Indoor masking still required
    The University’s policy on face coverings has not changed for indoor settings. Mask use is still required inside WMU buildings and WMU-controlled indoor spaces. As you are likely aware, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidelines on face coverings in connection with vaccination status. While immunized individuals are highly protected from the virus, those who are unvaccinated remain vulnerable, the CDC advises. As we continue to vaccinate our campus community, there currently remains a mixture of vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. To safeguard the well-being of our entire University community, there are no changes to our indoor masking rules. Read the full policy on facial coverings. In keeping with procedures for expediting changes to University policy, the updated policy is labeled “interim,” but it is fully in force.  

    Get your shot
    We continue to urge every member of our community to be vaccinated to help hasten our return to normalcy. Sindecuse Health Center offers COVID-19 vaccine appointments on most days and is hosting a special vaccination event tomorrow, Tuesday, May 25, from noon to 4 p.m. Call (269) 387-3287 to schedule an appointment for this event or for another day that is convenient for you.

    Return to campus
    As President Montgomery announced in March, employees who have not been conducting their duties on campus will begin returning to working on-site in early July. While this doesn’t mean every person in every office will be back on July 6, it does mean every office on campus will again be maintaining a physical presence from that day forward. Under the direction of supervisors, units should begin scaling up their in-person workforce so that each office has sufficient staff present to meet the full array of services and expectations for their area as we draw nearer to fall semester.

    Travel approval procedures updated
    The standard approval process for essential travel to conferences and in-state and domestic travel events used prior to COVID-19 has been restored. The online travel authorization system allows individuals to create travel authorizations and electronically route those authorizations to the approver. International travel requires vice-presidential approval, which may be obtained through continued use of the International Essential Travel Waiver form. Visit the travel webpage for forms and additional information.

    Thank you for your attention to our updates. We will continue to keep you informed about new developments.

    As always: Be smart. Be safe. Be Broncos.

    Sincerely,

    Kara Wood
    Associate Vice President for Community Partnerships
    COVID-19 Response Coordination Team chair

    Gayle Ruggiero, M.D.
    Medical Director
    COVID-19 Response Coordination Team co-chair

    Lt. Andrew Bachmann
    WMU Department of Public Safety, Emergency Management
    COVID-19 Response Coordination Team co-chair