A poster on campus reading "Broncos are unstoppable."

Recent messages

Messages

  • March 23, 2021, Fall 2021 return to campus

    Dear WMU community,
     
    Today, we are pleased to announce our plans for fall 2021 in which we will safely return to near-normal operations and the majority of our courses will be offered face to face. 

    Whether in a laboratory, residence hall, classroom or the stands of an athletic event, we expect to offer a robust on-campus environment in the fall with the wide array of learning, living and co-curricular opportunities that make the Western experience one where students can fully explore and discern their purpose. 

    On par with other Michigan public universities that have announced their fall plans, about 75% of Western classes will be in-person. Most of those will be fully face-to-face with 6% offered in a hybrid format. The portion of entirely in-person courses will be double those offered last fall. 

    The last few weeks have brought an acceleration in the distribution of vaccines, which offers reason for hope and cautious optimism. With this in mind, we are anticipating a full return to in-person campus activity over the summer. Pending state guidance, we have tentatively set July 6—following the Independence Day holiday—as our target date for enhanced return to campus. At that time, we anticipate all departments, offices and services will return to full in-person operations. We have significant planning ahead to ensure a safe and smooth return to campus. 

    Based on applying the lessons learned over the past year of the COVID-19 health crisis, including implementing safety policies and practices Universitywide and in each division, we are confident we can responsibly come together in classrooms and offices in compliance with state guidelines this fall. We will do so in an environment made safer as a result of wider-spread vaccination and the benefit of a full year of learning to safely manage our community together. As one example, according to an ongoing study of mask-wearing at Western, better than 90% of our campus consistently wears masks and wears them properly. 

    We’ve demonstrated that, as a community, we know what to do and we are willing to do it. Let’s continue to work together as we progress toward a strong fall start. I encourage everyone to get vaccinated when eligible in order to help us reach herd immunity as a campus community. In addition, continuing to mask and follow other protective measures will help safeguard our campus community.

    Through our COVID-19 Response Coordination Team and our Sindecuse Health Center, Western has been a leader among universities across the state in responding to the needs of our students, faculty and staff, including through the provision of rapid-result COVID-19 testing long before other institutions and as a result of our close partnership with the county health department. These and the safety plans we have for each department on campus are examples of our preparedness and success managing the pandemic in just a year.

    Safeguarding the health and well-being of our campus community is always our top priority, and going beyond basic expectations is what sets Western apart.

    We know this past year has been difficult, requiring all of us to be flexible and adapt to a changing environment, to be resilient in the face of challenges in our professional and personal lives, and to demonstrate strength and grace in the face of uncertainty and loss. We will use the strength and insights we have developed to carry us forward. Over the coming weeks and months, look for us to provide additional details about the rollout of fall semester 2021. We’re excited about the future we are creating together. 

    Sincerely,

    Edward Montgomery 
    President

  • March 19, 2021, Get tested for COVID-19 before spring recess

    Dear WMU community,
     
    Ahead of spring recess, Sindecuse Health Center is holding a testing event on Wednesday, March 24, between 8 a.m. and noon as well as later in the day between 2 and 4 p.m. Secure your drive-thru testing appointment by booking it on the health center's secure patient portal

    I encourage you to be tested for COVID-19, even if asymptomatic, before departing for the recess. You don’t want to inadvertently pass on to loved ones or anyone else a virus that has proven to be deadly for many. 

    This break is an opportunity to restore your strength and relax, but also be sure to continue carefully observing COVID-19 protocols, including masking, maintaining social distance and avoiding large gatherings. Cases of the virus have been on the rise, and we know in Kalamazoo County the more contagious B.1.1.7 variant is present within our community. 

    As part of Western's pandemic response, we have coined a phrase that is important to follow daily, and spring recess is no exception: Be smart. Be safe. Be Broncos. Stay vigilant to stay healthy.

    Sincerely,

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

  • March 5, 2021, Update to state's gathering rules, variant detected in campus community

    Dear WMU community,

    Today, we have an update on campus quarantine and isolation protocols, information on vaccine phasing and how new adjustments to the state’s epidemic rules for gatherings impact the campus, including meetings of Registered Student Organizations.

    In a message last week, Dr. Gayle Ruggiero, medical director, explained that if we discover a campus community member has contracted the more infectious variant of COVID-19, known as B.1.1.7, the University would follow more stringent quarantine and isolation procedures.

    Results from a specimen tested for the variant showed a positive for this new strain in a student. This person has no in-person classes and lives off campus but had a travel history, which is one of the circumstances that triggers testing for the B.1.1.7 variant. However, out of an abundance of caution and as we’ve previously indicated, we will now operate under the assumption that this strain is widespread. Other specimens are pending with the state’s Bureau of Laboratories.

    Under our isolation and quarantine rules, anyone with a confirmed case of COVID-19 must isolate for 10 days, and their close contacts will be required to quarantine for 14 days and should be tested five days after exposure.

    Please continue to practice all of the required behaviors to guard against the coronavirus, including masking, keeping physical distance and getting tested if you have symptoms or have been exposed to a positive case.

    Vaccine phasing 

    The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has expanded the pool of residents eligible for vaccination. Beginning Monday, March 8, those age 50 and older who have medical conditions or disabilities and caregiver family members or guardians who care for children with special health care needs are now eligible. Beginning Monday, March 22, any resident who is 50 or older will be eligible. Please note scheduling vaccinations is subject to the county’s clinic plan and vaccine availability. If you completed the COVID-19 Vaccine Phasing Assessment through Sindecuse Health Center, you have done what is necessary to be “in line” for a vaccine administered by Kalamazoo County.

    If you did not complete the phasing assessment through Sindecuse but want to get a vaccine organized by Sindecuse and county health officials, follow this link to submit an appeals form. After a short review, a phasing assessment will be issued to those who have not yet completed one. Other appeals are evaluated on a case-by-case basis and responses are sent within five business days.

    Though county officials are administering vaccines, the health center's role has been to assist by forwarding the names of current students, faculty, staff and University health-plan retirees who complete the confidential assessment. Nearly 6,000 Broncos, primarily students, have participated in the assessment.

    Updated rules on gatherings

    The state health department has updated its rules on gatherings in residential and nonresidential settings, effective today through April 19, 2021. For any gathering, people should continue to maintain at least 6 feet of physical distance and properly wear a mask. Sanctions remain in place for campus community members who violate the University’s safety protocols.

    Under these rules at WMU:

    • WMU employees who can perform their duties remotely should continue to do so to the fullest extent possible, though some duties must be performed on campus. Managers and supervisors remain the point of contact for questions about work arrangements.
     
    • In nonresidential settings, indoor gathering is permitted when no more than 25 people are assembled, which means Registered Student Organizations and other groups can now meet in the Bernhard Center in groups of up to 25. Group size, participants, room capacities and adherence to masking and physical distancing will be monitored. 
     
    • At residential venues, indoor gatherings are permitted when 15 or fewer individuals congregate, comprising no more than three households.
     
    • Outdoor gatherings at residential settings are permitted when 50 or fewer individuals are together.
     
    • WMU Dining Services continues to offer indoor dining. People must sit at tables and maintain 6 feet of distance from other diners. Members of a household (roommates or suitemates), however, may share a table. Tables must be spaced a minimum of 6 feet apart. Grab ‘n’ go services will continue as indicated at dining locations.
     
    • Waldo Library remains open but must not exceed 50% capacity, up from 30%.
     
    • The Student Recreation Center remains open for personal workouts, drop-in sports, various single-person sporting events and in-person and virtual fitness classes. Capacity is limited to 30%, up from 25%. Check wmich.edu/rec for additional details.

    Thank you for complying with the University’s as well as the state’s health and safety protocols. Though some limitations have been loosened, this is not a license to become lax. Be all the more vigilant about engaging in those personal habits that protect yourself and those around you. COVID-19 continues to be a health threat.

    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

  • Feb. 23, 2021, Safeguards against COVID-19-variant spread

    Dear campus community,

    Western is participating in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Mask Adherence Surveillance at Colleges and Universities Project, thanks to public health students overseen by Drs. Robert Bensley, professor in public health, and Amy Jessop, associate professor in public health.

    According to the latest observations in this study of mask-wearing adherence, 98% of those observed on our campus were wearing a mask and nearly 97% were wearing their mask properly, meaning covering both mouth and nose.

    Keep wearing your mask, Broncos, and be sure to wear them correctly. 

    With the rise of a new, highly transmissible variant of COVID-19 known as B.1.1.7, continued compliance with wearing masks and every other effort to stop the spread of the virus is especially critical. There are no confirmed cases of the more infectious version of the virus on our campus, but we are prepared for that possibility. 

    Kalamazoo County health officials identified the strain in four individuals, and authorities suspect community spread beyond these cases. On campus, we will take steps, as needed, to prevent the variant from gaining a foothold here. 

    If we detect B.1.1.7 or a potential exposure to it within the campus community, we will pursue more stringent isolation and quarantine strategies. We also may implement testing pools for infection surveillance and enhanced social distancing among populations. The scope of enhanced distancing will be determined by the incidence of infection found within the campus community. 

    As part of testing protocols at Sindecuse Health Center, specimens from individuals with an increased likelihood of B.1.1.7 infection are being sent to the Michigan Bureau of Laboratories for confirmation. Someone who has an increased likelihood of being infected with the strain is a symptomatic person who has a travel history or has been exposed to a confirmed case of the variant or an asymptomatic individual who is a close contact of a person confirmed to be infected with the B.1.1.7 strain.

    For anyone who lives on campus and has an increased likelihood of being ill with this variant, we will implement enhanced isolation and quarantine guidelines. 

    Under these guidelines, close contacts will be required to quarantine for 14 days and will be strongly encouraged to be tested five days after exposure. Specimens will be tested for the variant.

    If a case on campus is determined to be positive for the B.1.1.7 strain, enhanced protocols will be implemented for all campus positives.

    We are all tired of COVID-19, but none of us can afford to let up on our current mitigation strategies—social distancing, wearing masks, hand hygiene, taking the daily health survey when on campus and getting tested for the virus when symptomatic or exposed to a confirmed positive case. And when it’s your turn, get vaccinated.

    I continue to be grateful for those who are consistently practicing COVID-19-conscious behaviors. Compliance is what will help keep us healthy.  

    Be smart. Be safe. Be Broncos.

    Sincerely,

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

  • Jan. 28, 2021, Spring semester update from COVID-19 Response Coordination Team

    Dear colleagues,

    A little more than one week has elapsed since our return to in-person learning at WMU. Thank you for adhering to those habits, procedures and processes in place to keep campus a safe and healthy environment in which to learn and work. 

    As part of the University’s ongoing pandemic response, we are committed to keeping you informed. We write today with a few reminders and to clarify that employees scheduled for COVID-19 vaccination may do so during work hours without using leave time this year.

    We all want our campus community to remain safe. Remember to wear your masks and maintain physical distance from others. It is also important to complete the health survey each day you are on campus. 

    Vaccination efforts to date
    Thank you to those who have taken the COVID-19 Vaccine Phasing Assessment administered by Sindecuse Health Center to confidentially provide Kalamazoo County health officials with contact information for eligible students, faculty and staff who qualify in each vaccination phase based on the state's guidelines.

    When invited for a vaccination appointment, please make arrangements to show up at your scheduled time. As an employee, you are permitted to get your COVID-19 vaccination during work hours. While you won't need to claim leave time for the appointment for your first or second COVID-19 vaccine this year, inform your supervisor to allow for coverage of duties in your absence. If the appointment is outside work hours, you may not claim overtime. 

    To learn more about WMU’s vaccine response efforts to date and for a link to the phasing assessment, information is available at wmich.edu/vaccine.

    Cleaning on campus
    Custodial staff remain on top of cleaning procedures throughout the University. They are using specialized tools and products, such as electrostatic disinfecting equipment and Aqueous Ozone. They continue their increased focus and intensity on high-touch areas in our buildings, such as light switches and door knobs. Custodial staff also provide additional cleaning in high-use buildings and restrooms.
     
    In classrooms, when there is a scheduled minimum 30-minute gap between classes, custodians clean those spaces. If there is less than 30 minutes of scheduled gap time between classes, sanitizer wipes are available for students and faculty to clean their own workspaces, as the gap is not long enough to allow cleaning by custodial staff. 

    Ventilation systems
    Facilities Management has implemented best management practices for building HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and ASHRAE (HVAC professional organization) recommendations. These include:

    • Adjusting applicable HVAC systems to increase the amount of air brought into a building to improve the indoor environment (two times the normal rate). Facilities Management staff have already accomplished this by increasing outside air through damper adjustments and temporarily suspending Demand Control Ventilation.
    • Where possible, we are maintaining a relative humidity between 40% and 60%, which reduces the potential for transmission and has a positive influence on immune systems.
    • All building HVAC systems increase ventilation two hours before spaces are occupied. 
    • HVAC filtration systems are changed regularly by professional mechanics using proper personal protective equipment.

    Learn more about cleaning protocols and building systems and air handling modifications at WMU's Safe Return Plan website under Health and Safety at WMU.

    We appreciate you for taking the time to read this update. A critical part of staying safe during this period of pandemic requires also staying informed.

    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

  • Jan. 19, 2021, Updates to Michigan's epidemic order restores some activities

    Dear WMU community,
     
    Happy Friday! On Tuesday, Jan. 19, in-person classes and activities will resume in earnest on WMU's campus. In class and at work, let's enter this week committed to making spring term an exceptional experience all semester long. This includes adhering to the safety practices we know can keep our community healthy and together in the COVID-19 era.
     
    We write with a few reminders to share and also to report on the updated Michigan Department of Health and Human Services epidemic order. The adjusted order, which restores some previously prohibited activities, is in effect from Saturday, Jan. 16, through Sunday, Jan. 31.

    Here’s what the changes will mean on campus:

    • Indoor group exercise and non-contact sports are now permitted—while still wearing a mask and maintaining physical distance. This change expands the options for staying fit and boosting your wellness through the experiences offered in WMU’s Student Recreation Center (SRC). Staying active is a critical part of safeguarding your health and immune system.
     
    • In-person fitness classes resume at the SRC on Tuesday, Jan. 19. SRC access is based on the University's enrollment fee. Students who have paid the enrollment fee have access to the SRC this semester. Students who have not been assessed the enrollment fee, such as those who are taking their classes exclusively through remote learning, may also use the SRC by paying $90 for the semester. Learn more at wmich.edu/rec or call (269) 387-4732.
     
    • West Hills Athletic Club members also can look forward to indoor group fitness classes resuming.Those restart tomorrow, Saturday, Jan. 16. To learn more, visit the club’s website.

    We also have a few reminders:

    • WMU employees who can perform their duties remotely should continue to do so to the fullest extent possible, though some duties must be performed on campus. Managers and supervisors remain the point of contact for questions about work arrangements.
     
    • In accordance with the epidemic order’s guidelines for university food establishments, WMU is offering both grab-and-go and indoor dining options. Indoor dining is permissible when tables are at least 6 feet apart. If diners are seated at tables, they must be 6 feet apart; members of a household may share a table. Learn more about on-campus food service options by visiting Dining Services online.
     
    • While the order prohibits indoor gatherings in non-residential buildings such as the Bernhard Center, the center remains open for individuals to study or get a grab-and-go meal from Subway, Biggby and BC Cafe.

    We close out this message as we do most communications because the following habits remain absolutely vital for the health of all Broncos: Wear a mask, maintain physical distance, wash your hands frequently, avoid crowds and get tested if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to a confirmed case of the virus. See you soon!

    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

  • Jan. 7, 2021, COVID-19 testing event set; additional no-cost tests available

    Dear students, faculty and staff,

    We are excited to welcome you back for a successful spring semester. As we come together again, the key to that success will be continuing to maintain a safe, healthy and engaging learning environment. As part of those efforts, we have set aside multiple days for mass COVID-19 testing ahead of in-person classes resuming, when many will return to campus from communities around the state and beyond. This mass testing will enable us to identify cases of COVID-19 and respond appropriately to mitigate spread at the start of the semester.

    Drive-thru testing will be available by appointment at Sindecuse Health Center on Friday, Jan. 15, and Tuesday through Thursday, Jan. 19 to 21, from 8:15 a.m. to noon each day. Enrolled students, benefits-eligible employees and temporary employees may make their appointment using the health center's online patient portal. Schedule your test today.

    Additional no-cost tests: As always, no-cost visits and tests continue to be available for current students, faculty and staff with symptoms of the virus or close-contact exposure. In addition, the University is increasing by two the number of no-cost tests available for asymptomatic students faculty and staff. This means for the 2020-21 academic year, you have a total of four coronavirus tests available for no out-of-pocket expense.

    For example, if during the fall semester you took advantage of two no-cost tests as an individual not experiencing symptoms, you now have two no-cost tests remaining. If you have never been tested by health center staff as an asymptomatic student, faculty or staff member, you have four remaining no-cost tests for the school year. Temporary employees will only be eligible for a no-cost test during the upcoming mass testing event.

    Third and fourth tests are available from this point forward. No refunds for any previous charges will be made.

    Following testing, results are typically posted to your patient portal account within an hour. If you are positive for the virus, health center staff will call to inform you of the result.

    Vaccine update: Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department is administering vaccines to those eligible for inoculation at this stage in the phased approach to vaccinating the population. Phasing is determined by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and implemented by the county, not WMU. University leaders remain in communication with health officials and will share more about vaccination planning and protocols for our campus community as new information becomes available. 

    For the foreseeable future, it remains vital to consistently follow safety behaviors to protect ourselves and those around us. This also will help hasten the end of the global COVID-19 scourge.

    • Wear a mask. On campus, masks are required in indoor spaces and outdoors where physical distancing is not possible.
    • Keep your hands clean. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
    • Watch your distance. Stay 6 feet away from others while in public spaces and also avoid large gatherings where it's difficult to maintain physical distance.
    • Monitor your symptoms and get tested. Even after being tested next week, if you develop symptoms of COVID-19, no-cost testing is available.

    Our collective well-being depends on each of us doing our part to slow the spread of the virus. Together, let's make it a healthy semester.

    Be smart. Be safe. Be Broncos.

    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

  • Dec. 18, 2020, COVID-19 vaccine: What to expect

    Dear campus community,

    We are wrapping up the year with anticipation and hope for 2021 brought by the approval of a COVID-19 vaccine. Front-line medical workers across the country have begun to receive vaccine doses this week. As we move toward the holiday recess, we want to provide some information about what to expect regarding vaccinations in the coming year.

    The goals and prioritization for vaccinations are established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and the Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department (KCHCS).

    These health experts aim to vaccinate at least 70% of the population in 2021. By early January, they are estimating 10 million doses to be administered nationally each week. They expect that figure to double to 20 million per week around late February or early March. With a U.S. population of 330 million, public health agencies have established the following phased, prioritized approach:

    • Phase 1A has started and prioritizes almost exclusively those who work in health care settings, prioritizing first within the phase those who work directly with patients.
    • Phase 1B could start as early as January, prioritizing workers who are essential to continue critical industry infrastructure across Michigan.
    • Phase 1C could begin in February, focusing on individuals at high risk for severe COVID-19 illness due to underlying medical conditions and people 65 years and older.
    • Phase 2 could begin in early April, making vaccines widely available to all other adults.

    Prioritization and phasing has been determined by federal, state and local health agencies with little control or discretion afforded to businesses or public sector organizations like Western. As Michigan moves through the phases, we will work with KCHCS to identify specific Western populations in each phase that may be included in vaccination eligibility. Please be aware vaccinations are being administered through numerous health care access points and the phases will overlap.

    Here on campus, our front-line Sindecuse Health Center medical workers are starting their vaccinations, in accordance with the phasing and directives from KCHCS. We also continue our close communication and coordination with KCHCS to ensure we have the latest information. As vaccines become available to larger populations, perhaps in phase 1C, we will begin to work with the health department to provide vaccines on campus as their protocols and availability allow.

    The vaccine has been developed through a rigorous protocol and has been determined to be safe and effective by the Food and Drug Administration. We encourage all members of the WMU community to get vaccinated for COVID-19. You can find more information on the MDHHS website.

    Clarifying Quarantine Window

    In recent weeks, there has been considerable news coverage about the CDC lowering the number of days for quarantine down to seven following a negative coronavirus test result or 10 days without testing. Along with these updated standards, the CDC advised following local health authorities because these officials make "the final decisions about how long quarantine should last based on local conditions and needs." Both the MDHHS and KCHCS recommend a 10-day quarantine period for COVID-19 positive and exposed individuals, a standard WMU has adopted.

    Thank you to everyone who has stepped up this year, followed the public health guidance, gotten tested and taken initiative to care for your fellow Broncos. With the vaccine, there is an end in sight. But we cannot let our guard down yet. Remain vigilant. Stay safe. And have a wonderful holiday recess.

    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

  • Dec. 18, 2020, Classes resume in virtual mode Jan. 11 and in previously scheduled modalities Jan. 19

    Dear WMU community,

    This afternoon, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced in a press conference the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has revised its emergency order. The new order is effective Monday, Dec. 21, and will last until Friday, Jan. 15. In coordination with this revision, the governor has asked that all colleges and universities wait until Monday, Jan. 18, to begin offering in-person classes and delay student move-in to the immediately preceding weekend. This request is designed to help prevent exposure and spread of COVID-19 following the holiday recess and students' return to college campuses from communities across the state and nation.

    In accordance with the governor’s request, WMU will resume classes in distance education mode on Monday, Jan. 11. Courses will return to in-person and other modalities indicated on class schedules beginning Tuesday, Jan. 19, immediately following the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday. Faculty can visit HelpHub for additional resources and guidance. The team at WMUx looks forward to helping faculty members who need assistance through the Faculty Technology Center. The center will begin extended hours Monday, Jan. 4.

    Residence halls will now reopen on Saturday, Jan. 16—about one week later than originally planned. Our housing department asks that you please complete the appropriate paperwork by the deadline, found in the housing portal, to set up your arrival. Housing arrangements remain unchanged for Seita Scholars, international students and other special populations who do not have alternative housing. To help prevent exposure and the spread of COVID-19, I encourage all other students who may have traveled for the holidays to also wait until Jan. 16 to return to campus.

    Students living in residence halls will receive financial consideration related to room and board. More information about housing and dining will be forthcoming from the Department of Housing and Residence Life. Please continue to check your email and the department's website during the holiday recess.

    WMU remains committed to offering students a safe and high-quality educational experience, operating in compliance with governmental and public health directives. We will communicate additional details to the campus community as information becomes available.

    While recent news about COVID-19 vaccines raises our hopes for the future, it’s critically important that we continue those practices that prevent coronavirus transmission—wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet away from those around you, washing your hands frequently and limiting in-person interactions. 

    We wish you a safe, healthy and restorative recess, and we look forward to seeing you again in January.

    Thank you,

    Edward Montgomery
    President

  • Dec. 7, 2020, State extends current COVID-19 emergency order to Dec. 20

    Dear WMU community,

     

    Today Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the state is extending its nearly three-week-old epidemic order by 12 days, which means continuing restrictions on indoor social gatherings and other group activities through Sunday, Dec. 20.

    Citing "alarmingly high" COVID-19 case rates, state officials say the extension will allow the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to determine the full impact of the Thanksgiving holiday on the spread of the virus across Michigan.

    MDHHS identified three metrics that will be used to determine whether to slowly reopen at the end of the 12 additional days: a flat or declining percentage of inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients, a declining trend in cases per 1 million residents and a declining trend in the positivity rate.

    WMU's COVID-19 Case Dashboard shows 4.8% positivity among tested individuals and 34 new cases; both statistics cover the latest seven-day period recorded. Over recent weeks, we've seen drops in cases and positivity within the University community. Please continue your vigilance in following safety protocols. It's making a difference.

    The updated order specifically notes colleges, universities and high schools should keep offering instruction via remote learning through the extension. At WMU, as planned, distance instruction continues through the end of the fall semester, which officially concludes on Saturday, Dec. 19, the day of our virtual commencement ceremonies.

    The extension of the order extends impacts for WMU that took effect Nov. 18, which are restated below for easy reference.

    • All University employees who can perform their duties remotely will continue to do so to the maximum extent possible. In some cases, work duties cannot be done remotely. In those instances, safety precautions will continue to be enforced. Your manager or supervisor remains your point of contact for questions about work arrangements.
    • Indoor gatherings may only occur in the residence halls. These gatherings must adhere to posted distancing requirements and are limited to students from no more than two different rooms or suites.
    • Indoor eating is permitted in WMU Dining Services if diners are seated at tables and are 6 feet apart. Members of a household—roommates or suitemates—may share a table. Tables must be spaced a minimum of 6 feet apart. Grab 'n' go services will continue as indicated at dining locations.
    • Outdoor gatherings are limited to 25 people.
    • All campus research and creative scholarship with a vice president for research and innovation-approved safety plan remains unaffected by this order; this includes graduate and undergraduate work, including students working in research labs. To be clear, laboratory courses will not meet in person.
    • College sports meeting extraordinary standards for risk mitigation may continue without spectators.
    • All Registered Student Organizations must meet via virtual platform, and club sports are postponed for the duration of the order.
    • The Student Recreation Center will remain open for individual exercise; group fitness classes, however, are prohibited. West Hills Athletic Club will remain open and continue operations and services as currently provided, in accordance with the order.
    • Waldo Library will remain open but at a reduced capacity.
    • Students working at internships or externships should follow the directions and policies at their location to continue their work.
    • Public transit is permitted under the order.

    Thank you for your ongoing adherence to the safety habits necessary to stop the transmission of the novel coronavirus, which include wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet away from those around you, washing your hands frequently and limiting in-person interactions. For those who must come to campus, please also continue to complete the self-monitoring survey found at wmich.edu/survey. Together, we must keep up the fight against the spread of COVID-19.

    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

  • Nov. 15, 2020, Classes to go virtual Wednesday with other new safety measures

    Dear WMU community,

     

    This evening, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced a new emergency order from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services—MDHHS. It enacts a three-week pause targeting indoor social gatherings and other group activities in an effort to curb the rapidly rising COVID-19 infection rate. The order is effective Wednesday, Nov. 18, at 12:01 a.m. and runs through Tuesday, Dec. 8, at 11:59 p.m. and could be extended.

    The emergency order has the following impacts on WMU's course delivery and operations for the duration of the order, unless otherwise specified.

    • All classes will be delivered via distance instruction. This accelerates by three days WMU's plan to move nearly all in-person instruction to distance education. Starting Wednesday, only classes involving health care programs may continue to be offered in person if they cannot be conducted via distance education.
    • WMUx will assist faculty members in developing strategies for continuing instruction remotely in those courses that had planned to continue in person for the full semester and that do not involve health care.
    • Students who are working at internships or externships should follow the direction and policies at their location to continue their work.
    • All WMU employees who can perform their duties remotely will do so to the maximum extent possible. This will be the case for the vast majority of WMU staff. In some cases, work duties cannot be done remotely. In those instances, safety precautions will continue to be enforced. Your manager/supervisor is your point of contact for questions about work arrangements.
    • Indoor gatherings may only occur in the residence halls. These gatherings must adhere to posted distancing requirements and are limited to students from no more than two different rooms or suites.
    • Other than the provision directly above, residence hall operations are not affected by this order.
    • Outdoor gatherings are limited to 25.
    • All RSOs will meet virtually and club sports are postponed for the duration of the order.
    • Indoor eating is permitted in WMU Dining Services if diners are seated at tables and are 6 feet apart. Members of a household (roommates or suitemates) may share a table. Tables must be spaced a minimum of 6 feet apart. Grab-n-go services will continue as indicated at dining locations.
    • Sindecuse Health Center’s drive-thru testing event has been extended to begin tomorrow, Monday, Nov. 16, and run through Thursday, Nov. 19. The state’s chief medical executive, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, stressed the importance of continuing to conduct COVID-19 testing. Schedule your test by calling (269) 387-3287. Students who get tested during the testing event will receive a $5 certificate to spend at participating downtown businesses.
    • All campus research and creative scholarship that has a vice president for research and innovation-approved safety plan remains unaffected by this emergency order; this includes graduate and undergraduate work, including students working in research labs. To be clear, laboratory courses will not meet in person.
    • Waldo Library will remain open but at a reduced capacity.
    • In accordance with the order, the Student Recreation Center will remain open for individual exercise, however, group fitness classes are prohibited.
    • Public transit is permitted under the order.

    The rapid rise of cases combined with cold weather and the anticipated holidays are a concerning mix of factors that can make our current situation worse. We've proven this semester we know what to do; let's continue to do it.

    Be smart. Be safe. Be Broncos.

     

    Sincerely,

    Edward Montgomery
    President

  • Nov. 13, 2020, Start enhanced social distancing today as part of Thanksgiving planning

    Dear WMU community,

     

    We are now just a little less than 14 days before Thanksgiving. As we all think about how to gather with those we love, now is the time to take action to do that safely. This is especially important given that our trends are headed in the wrong direction. We are seeing a concerning rise of COVID-19 cases that are burdening health care systems across Michigan and right here in Kalamazoo County. Cases here at Western began to rise right after Halloween. We must work to flatten the curve. 

    Your unremitting dedication to all the related coronavirus safety practices is crucial. We join Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services in calling for enhanced social distancing. Limit the places you go when you leave home to just the essentials—such as class, work, grocery runs and health care services. 

    Here are simple things you can do to get us back on track and ensure a safe Thanksgiving for your loved ones.

    • Please take advantage of rapid-result testing available through Sindecuse Health Center. On Nov. 18 and 19, the health center is offering drive-thru testing by appointment. Schedule your test by calling (269) 387-3287. Don’t risk inadvertently transmitting the virus to others—your best friend, your dad or your grandmother over the Thanksgiving table. 
    • Rethink those “Friendsgiving” plans. If you are exposed today or later, you can be asymptomatic and take coronavirus home. 
    • Limit your movement outside your home to only what is essential.

    As we continue to monitor our environment, we're not seeing the rise in transmissions occurring as a result of activities in classrooms or work settings, where individuals are following safety protocols. The rise is disproportionately happening as a result of social gatherings.

    Previously, close contact lists of COVID-19-positive students had typically been less than 10. But we are now seeing close contact lists of around 25 people or more—usually a list of others who were at a party. So, if you had plans to attend or host a party this weekend, think two weeks into the future and cancel those plans. The University's Student Code of Conduct office has been busy investigating and issuing hundreds of violations for disregarding safety rules.

    Our COVID-19 case dashboard shows a continued trajectory of escalating cases within the WMU community. Compared to the last seven-day period reported, we’ve gone up to 141 new cases versus 109 new cases in the last report. And 12.9% of tested individuals have tested positive for the virus compared to 11.4%.

    We must return to the things we know how to do to curb the spread of this virus. Individual decisions are the most powerful tools we have at our disposal. It’s within our power to flatten the curve. We may be getting tired of the coronavirus, but the virus has not nearly tired of us.

    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

  • Nov. 6, 2020, COVID-19 update: Your continued vigilance is required

    Dear WMU community,

     

    Our medical director, Dr. Gayle Ruggiero, recently sent a campuswide message reporting COVID-19 cases within the WMU community were trending downward, and she encouraged all of us to keep up the habits known to slow the spread of the infection. I want to thank everyone who has made efforts to help keep our campus safe and reduce our incidence of new cases. We have demonstrated that we know what to do and we are willing to do it. Thanks to committed faculty, staff and administrators and their comprehensive planning over the summer months, we resumed classes this fall positioned for safety and for fulfilling our educational mission. Thanks to our students who have abided by science- and expert-based health guidance.

    We have received a reminder of just how important these steps are, that even a modest slip in vigilance has consequences, almost immediately. On today’s updated COVID-19 case dashboard, you’ll find an uptick that shows 52 new cases in the latest seven-day period. This follows five weeks of decreasing cases. We suddenly have new case clusters that have emerged from social gatherings and other large group interactions recently. What happened? Halloween parties, in some instances.

    I'm writing today to underscore the call for vigilance in light of this new data. It’s time for redoubled awareness and attention. Off campus and on, we must maintain around-the-clock compliance with wearing a mask, maintaining at least 6 feet of physical distance from others and frequently washing hands.

    COVID-19 is currently surging across the nation, in our state and in the local community. That does not have to be the case here. This is a caring campus. Strict adherence to COVID-19-conscious practices demonstrates your concern for your fellow Broncos and all those with whom you interact. We have shown we know what to do, and we know it can and does work. Another healthy step you can take is to get tested before joining family and friends for the Thanksgiving holiday. Sindecuse Health Center is offering drive-thru testing, by online appointment, on Nov. 18 and 19. Details for how to sign up are available on our website.

    As we near Thanksgiving and the final weeks of the semester, it's useful to reflect on how we've been doing broadly and where we are going from here. We have managed this pandemic together by everyone doing their part—and stepping up for each other.

    Albeit operating very differently in some respects, our community is pressing on across campus—finding ways to teach and learn effectively across modalities, advancing knowledge in our research and creative activity, earning grants and scholarships, and providing and engaging in the cocurricular activities that round out college life. Our housing is confronting and overcoming the various challenges associated with providing students a home away from home in the time of a pandemic. Sindecuse is delivering the elevated care needed to conduct hundreds of COVID-19 tests weekly while continuing their core services, as well.

    In line with our pre-fall planning, we remain on track to move to nearly all virtual classes after Nov. 20. Thereafter, aside from Nov. 26 and 27, campus remains open and operating through Dec. 19 with few exceptions (students will be off for Thanksgiving recess, Nov. 23 through Nov. 27).

    On the final day of the semester, Dec. 19, some 1,400 students are set to graduate. I'm pleased to announce we are planning virtual commencement ceremonies to celebrate our talented students as newly minted alumni. We are excited to offer these virtual experiences and will soon share more details. For April and June 2020 graduates, we are still committed to offering an in-person commencement ceremony as soon as we possibly can do so.

    Our community continues to be replete with accomplishment. We do well when we pause and take stock. A few additional examples:

    • Dr. June Gothberg, assistant professor in the College of Education and Human Development, was recently invited by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to give a presentation to the members of the Working Group on Gender Equality, Disability and Human Rights.
    • Dr. Kelley O'Reilly, interim chair and associate professor in the Department of Marketing, has been named recipient of the 2019-20 MAC Outstanding Faculty Award for Student Success.
    • Ky'Aria Moses, a second-year master’s student in the behavior analysis program, won the National Institute of Effective Instruction’s Cooper & Andronis Scholarship.
    • Eddie Codrington, saxophonist, composer and two-time graduate, has been named the ASCAP Foundation’s Johnny Mandel Prize winner. The foundation also bestowed him with its Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Award for the second year in a row.

    Here's a metric to reflect on: 10,000. That's the number of personal phone calls staff and leadership within academic affairs, diversity and inclusion, and student affairs are collectively making to check in on students. As the days get colder and hours of daylight lessen, the mental health of our students is on our mind. This is one example of how Broncos are still supporting each other's well-being. Those who would like to volunteer to call students, please reach out to Katie Easley at katie.e.easley@wmich.edu. Students, if you are struggling, I encourage you to contact Sindecuse, which offers mental health services. Keep yourself well, and check in on your friends. Faculty and staff, please remember the Employee Assistance Program is here for you.

    Despite the challenges we face individually and collectively, our community continues to be there for each other. Together, we persevere, and, together, we are making an appreciable difference. Thank you for doing your part.

     

    Sincerely,

    Edward Montgomery
    President

  • Oct. 27, 2020, COVID-19 testing event Nov. 18 and 19 ahead of Thanksgiving recess

    Dear WMU students, faculty and staff,

     

    Months into the pandemic and several weeks into the fall semester, we are seeing adherence to practices, known to curb novel coronavirus spread, making a difference in the WMU community. For the last few weeks, the positivity rate has declined while Sindecuse Health Center consistently administers some 200 tests daily. The trend is moving in the right direction, but it's up to all of us to continue that trajectory. To stay informed about the incidence of the virus in our community, visit the University's COVID-19 Case Dashboard.

    Vigilance is particularly crucial as we approach the end of nearly all in-person classes after Nov. 20 and begin the Thanksgiving recess the following week, Nov. 23 to Nov. 27. While campus buildings and offices remain open through the end of the fall semester on Dec. 19, many may take the transition to distance education or the holiday as an opportunity to return to home communities and reunite with loved ones. No one wants to carry the virus back home. To continue protecting family, friends and yourself, do not let up on wearing your mask, maintaining 6 feet of physical distance and washing your hands frequently. That's how we are mitigating virus exposure and transmission.

    As an extra precaution ahead of the Thanksgiving recess, you can also take advantage of an upcoming testing event. On Nov. 18 and 19, the health center will offer drive-thru testing by appointment. These special testing times are available to enrolled WMU students, faculty and staff members only. If students, faculty or staff have NOT used their two no-cost tests under the University's testing provisions, this test will be administered at no charge. Eligible individuals who already received two asymptomatic, no-exposure tests will have their insurance billed first. Without insurance, a test costs $50 out of pocket. You must make your appointment online for this testing event. Find additional details on Sindecuse Health Center's website.

    We want you, your loved ones and campus to remain healthy and safe, Broncos. Don't ever forgo safety practices—even after a negative test result—as a test is a snapshot in time.

    If you are currently experiencing respiratory symptoms, cough, headache, shortness of breath, fever or other symptoms associated with COVID-19, or if you have been exposed to a positive case, call (269) 387-3287 to schedule an appointment with a provider at Sindecuse today.

     

    Thank you,

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

  • Oct. 5, 2020, WMU mask policy, other COVID-19 safety protocols remain in effect

    Dear WMU community,

    With the Michigan Supreme Court's decision Friday to strike down Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's current use of emergency powers to enforce COVID-19-associated regulations, you may be wondering what impact this ruling has on Western Michigan University's own safety policies and protocols.

    Acting under its independent authority granted by the state's constitution and continuing to follow public health guidance, WMU will maintain and enforce the University's COVID-19-related safety rules. These include our facial covering policy, as well as measures detailed on the Safe Return website and the COVID-19 response website.

    Moreover, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services late today issued an emergency order mirroring many of the major health and safety mandates in the governor’s COVID-19 executive orders, such as the use of masks and limiting the size of gatherings. The University also continues to work closely with the Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department in our response to the pandemic. Wearing a mask, physical distancing, washing one's hands frequently and restricting the size of gatherings all help prevent exposure and spread of the virus, according to these public health officials.

    Please stay the course in following COVID-19-conscious practices. Every member of the WMU community plays a vital role in creating and sustaining a healthy campus. Thank you for continuing to do your part.

    Sincerely,

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

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

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

  • Sept. 21, 2020, COVID-19 dashboard enhancements, operational contingencies

    Dear campus community,

    We have effectively managed to reopen in-person operations, and our community is two and a half weeks into the new school year. We are solving problems as they arise and adapting as we find new and better ways to manage in this unprecedented time.

    With some experts estimating a full national recovery from the pandemic as far as a year away, we have come to understand our circumstance as a marathon, not a sprint. Our planning is framed by the assumption that the effects of the pandemic could continue to extend for a long and undeterminable duration. I hope I am wrong, but hope is not a strategy. We must be realistic about what we face and flexible in how we adapt to shifting circumstances. Being practical means we must frame our thinking accordingly. Instead of considering our large university as one monolithic entity with a single, predetermined course, we must use our heterogeneity to our advantage in crafting solutions and responses to the crisis. The faculty have already been doing this in developing courses with five modalities to fit the educational circumstances in their respective departments. All buildings and units have unique operational plans placing safety first, yet crafted to fit individual circumstances. By thinking in multifaceted, non-binary terms, at a micro, not macro scale, we have also deployed targeted solutions that allow for safe continuity of University operations. This is the thinking that has informed our Response and Recovery Plan, which can be found on the Safe Return Plan website.

     

    Response and Recovery Plan
    The Response and Recovery Plan provides a framework for decision-making as we continuously assess the latest COVID-19 data about our community. It takes a matrix approach to establish operating phases that rise and fall based on six key factors: community spread, trends in COVID-19 cases on campus, hospital admissions, contact tracing and isolation resources, test availability and the availability of Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE. The University’s levels of service in instruction, research, cocurricular and administrative functions, whether they are in-person or virtual, are guided by the operational phase and determined by the relevant division leader in consultation with the President, President’s Cabinet and division stakeholders as appropriate.

    I appreciate the thoughtful counsel and good work of the Contingency Planning Task Force, chaired by Dr. Terri Goss Kinzy, vice president for research and innovation. The full list of contributors to this effort can be found on page three of the plan, and we owe them all a debt of gratitude.

    So, where do we stand today in relation to the plan? Our current status is Phase 2. We have no hospital admissions, and there are sufficient PPE, testing, contact tracing and isolation resources. Total incidence of COVID-19 cases at WMU is 0.7% of the population, with 165 active cases, as of the end of the day Friday, Sept. 19, among a total student, faculty and staff population of 23,353.

    However, community spread is a factor that we continue to watch carefully. We assess our data at regularly scheduled meetings between WMU’s COVID-19 Response Coordination team leaders and our county health officials. At its most recent meeting, the group concluded that we are seeing evidence of increasing disease transmission among WMU students. This is what we might expect following our campus return and the Labor Day holiday, as there is still communitywide disease transmission in our county. The majority of the positive cases seem to be stemming from off-campus living situations and off-campus social gatherings.

    While this trend has our attention, we also understand that it is consistent with what our local officials have seen in the general community. They are finding that individuals throughout Kalamazoo County are not necessarily being exposed while at work or school, as there are strict public health risk mitigation measures in those settings. The exposure is most often happening in informal social gatherings where people are not as vigilant about following public health precautions.

    I cannot overemphasize how critical it is that everyone take individual ownership and responsibility to avoid these parties and gatherings, consistently practice social distancing and wear a mask. These are the keys that will determine how much of our University will remain open without disruption. The data shows we must do better if we hope to maintain or improve our current operating status.

    If you are interested in additional insight, the Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department has provided an assessment of our current status. We will continue to work with them and monitor the data.


    Testing Availability at Sindecuse Health Center
    The testing protocol at Sindecuse provides a good example of our flexible plan at work. Sindecuse had a handful of days where staff determined that capacity was not sufficient. I, along with other campus leaders, learned about wait-time concerns. Before we could call on Sindecuse to address the matter, the staff was already working on a solution. The center has added nurses to its staff and is hiring more, and it increased its contact tracing capacity. There are expanded hours for testing, and the staff has adapted policies and practices to expedite appointments and increase daily testing volume. Through these measures, Sindecuse has more than doubled its testing capability without delay.

    We understand that there may be some confusion about scheduling. When scheduling a test, please remember:

    • There is more testing capacity than is indicated in the patient portal for COVID-19 symptomatic or exposed individuals. So, those who are symptomatic or believe they have been exposed should complete their daily health survey accordingly, then make an appointment. If a timely appointment cannot be made through the online patient portal, call Sindecuse at (269) 387-3287.
    • Tests are most effective five or more days after exposure. So, while a patient may want an immediate test and result, it is important to allow sufficient time to pass for an accurate test result.

    To most effectively manage demand and need, Sindecuse has been prioritizing symptomatic or exposed individuals for testing, as assessed by a Sindecuse health provider. This helps us target testing where it is most critical in identifying those with the virus.

    Other examples of flexible responses to the pandemic include a cluster of cases found in one academic program several weeks ago. A three-day shutdown allowed for cleaning and safety assessment. The program was back up and running quickly with no further issues. We also had a cluster of cases among nine student athletes in four sports. We suspended practice and established aggressive distancing precautions until we could fully assess the situation.

    We will continue to monitor data, assess and adapt. Thank you to those who have sent questions and identified concerns. You are always welcome to reach out to me, and I encourage you to continue to send questions and concerns to info@wmich.edu. Working together, we can continue to provide the best possible, yet safe University experience for our students.

    Sincerely,

    Edward Montgomery
    President

  • Sept. 4, 2020, Update: Testing availability, data and other updates

    Dear WMU Community,

    Congratulations on completing the first week of fall semester. In any academic year, acclimating to a new semester after a long recess can take a few days. This year has the additional challenge of learning how to operate as an on-campus community amid a global pandemic. Together, we're doing it for the worthwhile purpose of delivering or receiving WMU's quality educational experience while following safety precautions. Thank you for your contributions to making this semester one that is healthy, safe and full of learning opportunities and achievements.

    We also come to you today with another roundup of reminders and important new information for you to know. The latest:

    Additional no-cost COVID-19 tests: Students asked. Leaders listened. WMU is now offering one additional no-cost test for faculty, staff and students who are not exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 but still want to be tested. Asymptomatic individuals can now receive a total of two rapid-result antigen tests for no out-of-pocket cost.

    WMU faculty, staff and students also receive a no-cost test if they have COVID-19 symptoms, answered "yes" to any of the questions on the daily self-monitoring survey or were directed to be tested as a close contact of an infected individual.

    It's important to understand that a COVID-19 test is a snapshot in time. An asymptomatic person who tests negative for the novel coronavirus must still continue to follow all the related health and safety precautions—consistently wearing a mask, social distancing in the presence of others, frequent hand-washing and staying home when ill. Tests are most accurate five days or more after exposure to a positive person, but they do not negate the need for continued quarantine.

    COVID-19 Case Dashboard: To stay informed about the incidence of COVID-19 among WMU community members, continue to visit the COVID-19 Case Dashboard on the University's Safe Return website. Individuals who have a confirmed case of the virus should isolate until a health care provider gives them clearance to circulate again among members of the general public.

    Bronco Student Pledge: We appreciate the overwhelming support for the Bronco Student Pledge—98.9% of students have so far affirmed the pledge, agreeing to follow all of the University's COVID-19-related health and safety requirements for the well-being of all members of the WMU community. Members of the President's Cabinet also have taken the pledge.

    Mask use: There has been some confusion about where one should wear a mask or a facial covering on campus. Please wear a mask indoors and outdoors when physical distancing is not possible. For instance, if you are outside and consistently beyond 6 feet from others, it's permissible to take your mask off. When you are within 6 feet of others outside, however, your mask should be covering your nose and mouth.

    As we move through this atypical semester together, we should continue to extend grace and gratitude to each other. Successfully navigating a new life experience often takes resilience, which, in turn, helps to build resilience. That's how Broncos thrive and prosper.

    Please continue to visit the Safe Return website and COVID-19 website for resources and information.

    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

  • Sept. 2, 2020, Fall semester welcome from President Montgomery
    Video of President Montgomery welcomes students

    Dear WMU student,

    Welcome to your first day of classes!

    Each new year brings excitement as well as some hesitation over what lies ahead. Whether you're a longtime Bronco or a new student, it's all the more challenging today, given the COVID-19 pandemic. You have already received lots of helpful information, and I would like to keep it simple with five key pieces of information for you to use as classes begin:

    1. Take the self-monitoring health survey daily before arriving on campus.
    2. Know your COVID-19-conscious behaviors and expectations, including the updated WMU Student Code of Conduct, spelling out the consequences for ignoring or violating health and safety guidelines on or off campus.
    3. It takes everybody for our Safe Campus Strategy to work.
    4. Check the Safe Return Plan first—it has answers to many common questions.
    5. Find support when you need it.

    Also know that employees in many student-facing offices are now physically back on campus to serve you. Office hours and general operations may differ from previous semesters, so check the office hours website or call the offices before visiting them.

    By working together to keep everyone healthy and engaged through social distancing, using face coverings, hand-washing and using common sense, we’ll have a great year. I’ll see you soon.

    Be smart. Be safe. Be Broncos.

    Sincerely,

    Edward Montgomery
    President