Frequently Asked Questions

  • WMU campus status

    Western Michigan University has taken the precautionary measure of extending distance education through the end of the spring semester due to the COVID-19 global public health threat. University residence halls will be closing on Tuesday, March 24, at 8 p.m. It remains true that there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on campus, however, officials determined it necessary to close halls as a precaution. Spring Commencement will be postponed. We understand and empathize that this is a loss for our graduating students, their families and the Bronco community. But we are committed to ensuring that you have an opportunity to celebrate. Details, including an alternative date for the exercises, are pending and will be communicated soon.

Personal and Public Health

  • What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

    Coronavirus disease 2019—COVID-19—is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China, in December. Patients with COVID-19 have had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath. For more information about the virus and its incidence, visit the CDC coronavirus website.

  • I have cold/flu symptoms. What should I do?

    When it comes to symptoms and treatment/testing for possible COVID-19, the CDC is focusing on those who have had close proximity to others with the virus and may have possibly been exposed. Call your health care professional or Sindecuse Health Center at (269) 387-3287 to schedule an appointment for evaluation if you feel sick with fever, cough or difficulty breathing, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19, or if you live in or have recently traveled from an area with an ongoing spread of COVID-19. Remember to call ahead so health care workers can advise you on whether it's necessary to schedule an appointment.

    Sindecuse Health Center has compiled comprehensive information on its webpage.

  • What is the treatment for COVID-19?

    People infected with the novel coronavirus—COVID-19—should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. Currently, there is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for COVID-19 infection.

  • What can I do to be safe and keep others on campus safe?

    Sindecuse Health Center has compiled a list of COVID-19 precautions. Some of those include:

    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer;

    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands;

    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick, and avoid close contact with others, if you get sick;

    • Report international visitors planned to arrive on campus in the next three months by emailing information to info@wmich.edu;

    • If you have a fever, cough or difficulty breathing, visit your doctor (call ahead). Or visit Sindecuse Health Center, calling ahead at (269) 387-3287 before visiting the center; and,

    • Stay informed. Visit this web page often and monitor your WMU email.

    Visit the CDC’s webpage for comprehensive protection advice

  • Should I wear a mask?

    According to the CDC:

    • If you are sick: You should wear a facemask when you are around other people and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. If you don’t have a mask, do you best to cover your coughs and sneezes.
    • If you’re not sick: You don’t need to wear one unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a mask). Facemasks may be in short supply and they should be saved for caregivers.
  • What if I’m working on campus and I start to feel sick?

    WMU employees should continue to follow procedures identified on wmich.edu/covid-19 under If You Are Sick or Suspect COVID-19

  • Health department statistics show there are several persons under investigations for COVID-19 in Michigan. Does this mean they have the virus?

    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention monitors COVID-19 reports from state health departments. Each individual report is categorized as follows:

    Person under investigation (PUI)
    This describes any person who is currently under investigation for having the virus that causes COVID-19, or who was under investigation but tested negative for the virus.

    Presumptive positive case
    An individual who has tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 in at least one respiratory specimen in testing conducted at the local or state level. Currently, presumptive positive cases must undergo confirmatory testing at the CDC.

    Laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 case
    An individual who has tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 in at least one respiratory specimen at the CDC laboratory.

  • People are being asked to self-quarantine, Quarantine and Isolation—what does that mean?

    There are three terms used when it comes to people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 and they each have a very different meaning, but they all share the same goal: to protect the public by preventing exposure to people who have, or may have, a contagious disease.

    Self-Quarantine
    Self-Quarantine is a voluntary action that reduces the movement of people who have been, or could have been, exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.

    Quarantine
    Federal, state or local authorities require a quarantine to reduce the movement of people who have been, or could have been, exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.

    Isolation
    Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick, and is required by federal, state or local authorities.

  • I was on spring break in a country that was not part of the CDC Level 3 Health Travel Notice at that time. It was added to the list on March 12. What should I do?

    Please call Sindecuse Health Center and let them know when and where you traveled.

Housing

Student, Parent and Academic Questions

  • What do you mean by distance education?

    It’s a term that applies to using a variety of digital technologies in educating students. It includes live and recorded webinars, emails, online discussion boards, and digital spaces. Faculty can share reading assignments, collect papers, conduct group conversations and more. Students participate in many of the same ways they would do in an in-person lecture, complete reading and writing assignments and ask questions for clarification and discussion.

  • Will there be any tuition, housing, meal plan or SRC billing adjustments?

    WMU leaders are working out details on financial considerations. Monitor your wmich.edu email account to see future announcements.

  • What if I do not have my own computer or access to one at home? Can I still take part in distance learning?

    UPDATED 3/16/20: The University is making 200 laptops available for WMU students who do not have alternative access to a computer. The computers are to be used solely for WMU educational purposes. Students can make the request on the classroom technology page , by contacting the help desk at (269) 387-5041 or by emailing oit-classtechlist@wmich.edu. Also, we encourage students without home Internet services to explore temporary free services that have been offered by companies like Comcast and Spectrum/Charter. Instructors who do not have alternative access to a computer should contact their college IT office.

  • What if it is not possible for me to go home?

    Students with extenuating circumstances, such as international students, Seita Scholars and Foundation Scholars, will be permitted to remain in residence halls. Dining services will continue to be available to them. Communication from Residence Life will include contact information for other students who would like to appeal to remain in their residence hall.

    Students in University apartments may remain if they choose, because they have an ability to practice social distancing and maintain adequate food supplies. Students in communal living arrangements off campus are encouraged to consider whether they are able to effectively practice social distancing or if it's better to return to their permanent addresses.

  • I am a student who is having technical difficulties or has questions about my course. What should I do?

    If your challenge is with course content, please reach out to your instructor.  If the problem is a technical dilemma, please visit wmich.edu/elearning/students or the University’s help desk

  • How are you handling Aviation students’ needs to maintain flight hours and FAA requirements?

    The College of Aviation is working with students on a case by case basis to keep flight hours and check rides on schedule as best they can. Please contact your flight instructor or faculty member with any questions regarding labs, flight times and instruction.

  • I am currently in an internship and I am not sure if I should continue to report to work.

    Students may continue in off-campus internships. Contact the company where you are completing your internship to learn how they are managing COVID-19 and how they would like you to proceed.

  • May I request a credit/no credit grade for my Spring semester classes?

    We are providing undergraduate students the option to change their course grading method to credit/no credit through Friday, April 3. This change can be done on a course-by-course basis. In other words, you can choose to change one, several, all or none of your courses to credit/no credit. If a course is already credit/no credit, that course will remain unchanged. Any spring 2020 course may be change to credit/no credit, including courses counting toward your major and/or minor. This is an important decision that must not be taken lightly. It is important to understand what credit/no credit means. Please refer to the email that you received on March 18 for instructions on how to request a credit/no credit  more information or contact your academic advisor.

  • Is the Invisible Need Project food pantry still open?

    For the safety of students and any Food Pantry workers, starting Wednesday, March 25, 2020, the Invisible Need Project Pantry hours will be Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., by appointment only.  Please email dosa-inp@wmich.edu to schedule an appointment.  Students are still permitted to only visit the pantry at most once every two weeks, and must be a registered WMU student.  Visitors will no longer be permitted to enter the pantry.  Pick-up instructions will be provided with appointment details.

  • How can I get assistance through the Student Emergency Relief Fund?

    Invisible Need Project’s view of “unexpected & emergency” expenses has broadened in light of COVID-19.  SERF is available to help students with any basic/urgent expenses, even those which haven’t typically qualified for SERF (i.e., rent).  All requests still need to be submitted through the application (https://wmich.edu/invisibleneed/serf), including documentation.  Financial Aid eligibility is still part of the review process, and direct deposit of funds is being used when possible.

Working on Campus

  • I’m a WMU staff member. Do I need to come to work?

    Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued a sweeping stay-at-home executive order. Effective Tuesday, March 24 through Wednesday, April 25, all staff, unless deemed an exception, must fulfill their essential work at home in a manner consistent with the WMU policy on work assignments. Your manager/supervisor will remain your point of contact for work assignments and any additional questions you might have on your status.

    Those without an essential work assignment for some or all of this time must take one of the three types of leave available (COVID-19, annual or sick). The leave must be taken in a manner consistent with University policy. We will continue to monitor information from the governor and public health officials for guidance on whether the University might be able to return to normal operation before the April 25 date we have established.

  • Can students work remotely?

    If a student is performing work that a supervisor determines is essential, that student may continue to work. It is up to the unit to determine who is an essential worker.

  • Where do I go for information about research?

    The Office of Research and Innovation is committed to supporting faculty and staff engaged in research and creative scholarship to the fullest extent possible.

    Essential research activities are assigned to individuals within ORI.  Please follow up with your normal contact for now, understanding there may be some delays in response.

    Guidance and resources are available on ORI's webpage.

  • I’m a PI working remotely from home during self-isolation. Can my effort still be charged to the grant?

    In general, yes, provided you remain engaged in your project. Current National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation prior-approval requirements regarding disengagement and effort reductions remain in effect.

  • The University added an 80-hour COVID-19 allowance. Can I take it all at once, starting tomorrow?

    The COVID-19 allowance has been established to provide increased flexibility for full-time, benefits-eligible staff during the pandemic. All leave is subject to prior approval by your supervisor, including this allowance.

COVID-19 allowance, insurance and related matters

Travel

  • I recently traveled to a country on the CDC’s Level 3 warning list, what should I do?

    WMU faculty, staff members or students returning from these countries will be asked to self-quarantine for 14 calendar days. The University will provide guidance about procedures when you notify campus of your return. Please send a message to info@wmich.edu or call (269) 387-8400.

    Under CDC recommendations, if you were in a country with a COVID-19 outbreak and feel sick with fever, cough or difficulty breathing, within 14 days after you depart that country, you should:

    • Seek medical advice. Call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room. Tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.

    • Avoid contact with others.

    • Not travel on public transportation while sick.

    • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve—not your hands—when coughing or sneezing.

    • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to avoid spreading the virus to others.

    • Wash your hands with soap and water immediately after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.

    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60% to 95% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

  • I was planning on leaving for a conference, meeting or other business travel soon, and it has been planned for months. What should I do?

    Effective March 11, all nonessential travel, whether to a domestic location or an international destination, is suspended. What constitutes essential travel should be determined by your manager or supervisor. If there is some question regarding whether or not the travel is essential, your divisional lead (vice president or executive director) should be consulted.

  • Where do I find out information regarding travel?

    The University has suspended all nonessential travel (both international and domestic). If you have a previously scheduled trip and you are not sure whether or not it is considered essential, your divisional lead (vice president or executive director) should be consulted. Airlines are providing updates that change daily, so be sure to monitor them as you review your travel plans. Find out more by visiting the WMU Travel website.

  • I am an international student and I cannot get home now. What do I do?

    Students with extenuating circumstances, such as international students, Seita Scholars and Foundation Scholars, will be permitted to remain in their residence hall. Dining services will continue to be available to them. Communication from Residence Life will include contact information for other students who would like to appeal to remain in their residence hall.

    Students in University apartments may remain if they chose, because they have an ability to practice social distancing and maintain adequate food supplies.

Campus Operations

Events and Activities

  • Is Miller Auditorium open?

    Miller Auditorium, acting in compliance with the emergency declaration issued by Governor Gretchen Whitmer and policies enacted by the University, has suspended, canceled or postponed all public events beginning at 5 p.m. on Friday, March 13, through 5 p.m. on Sunday, April 5.  This includes all rentals, Broadway and Spotlight productions being held during that time period.

    Ticket holders for these Miller events may request refunds, but we do ask that you consider turning your ticket back in as a tax-deductible donation. To request a refund or donate the value of your ticket, please contact the Miller Auditorium box office at (269) 387-2300.

    Adjusted ticket office officer take effect on Wednesday, March 18. The office will be open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Online ticket sales are still available 24/7.

University Finance and Business Questions

Privacy, Reporting and Sharing Information

  • I have information about an employee or student’s health that might need to be shared to protect public health. What do I need to know?

    A person’s medical record or condition should not be disclosed to anyone other than to his or her medical professional, a public health professional, or as the individual explicitly consents. University policy and federal law protect personal health information—Protected Health Information, or PHI. With the advent of the coronavirus, many people are, understandably, concerned about the health of students, co-workers and friends. The vast majority of these concerns arise from a genuine desire for the well-being of the individual and public health. But “genuine concern” is not an exception under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act—HIPAA—as it relates to Sindecuse Health Center, Unified Clinics or Human Resources records.

    Until further notice, unless the University is disclosing PHI to other providers or public health authorities, or there’s a serious threat to health or safety, WMU will not disclose the HIPAA-protected information of another individual.

    Individuals acting on their own behalf are not subject to HIPAA restrictions. They must, however, continue to follow University policy regarding confidentiality. The University will not tolerate surreptitious or secret surveillance of students or co-workers. If you suspect in good faith that someone may have health issues related to the virus, you should encourage them to self-report and comply with health authority directives. If they refuse to do so, you will not violate University policy or applicable law if you report your concern to the University’s medical director or to public health authorities. But you should disclose the least amount of information necessary to communicate your concerns.

  • I have information about a student that I think may impact public health. What do I need to know?

    The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA, makes the educational records of students confidential. Except in limited circumstances, the education record of a student may not be disclosed without the written authorization of the student. One such exception is for a matter of public health. In the event a student’s education record reveals something that may adversely impact public health, good faith disclosures to authorized individuals do not violate FERPA. You should disclose the least amount of information necessary to communicate your concerns.

  • A charity that I have never heard of sent me an email asking me to donate for COVID-19 relief. I also got an odd email with an attachment about COVID-19. What should I do?

    Unfortunately, in any time of uncertainty there are those waiting to prey upon the good intentions of the vast majority of people. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, or CISA, warns us to be vigilant for scams related to COVID-19.

    According to its website, the CISA recommends that we all avoid clicking on links in unsolicited emails and be wary of email attachments. Do not reveal personal or financial information in email, and do not respond to email solicitations for this information. Verify a charity’s authenticity before making donations. Review the Federal Trade Commission’s page on Charity Scams for more information.

    If you are a member of the WMU community, visit https://wmich.edu/phishing to learn more about phishing attacks and other online scams. If you have received a suspicious email or text message, you can forward it by email to abuse@wmich.edu or call the help desk at 269-387-4357. If you believe your Bronco NetID has already been compromised, visit https://wmich.edu/phishing/account-compromised for help in restoring your account.