Frequently Asked Questions

  • WMU campus status

    Western Michigan University has taken the precautionary measure of extending distance education through the end of the summer II session, which concludes Aug. 14.

    Summer commencement, originally planned for June 27, will be postponed to an undetermined future date. 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 as soon as possible.

Personal and Public Health

  • What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

    Symptoms may include a dry cough, shortness of breath, fever, lessened sense of taste or smell, gastrointestinal issues, headache, chills, muscle pain or sore throat. If you are a WMU student, faculty or staff member in the Kalamazoo area and you have one or more of these symptoms, please contact Sindecuse Health Center at (269) 387-3287 to schedule an appointment for evaluation. The health care provider who contacts you may refer you for COVID-19 testing.

  • How do I know if I should be tested for COVID-19?

    Under new guidelines from public health officials, anyone may request a COVID-19 test. If you believe that you may have been exposed to the virus or if you have more than one of the symptoms listed above, please contact Sindecuse Health Center at (269) 387-3287 to schedule an appointment for evaluation. The health care provider who contacts you may refer you for COVID-19 testing.

  • 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 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;

    • 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?

    Yes. On April 24, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order extending her “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order through May 15. This order requires everyone to wear face coverings, either purchased or homemade, in enclosed public spaces.

    Further, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

    According to the CDC, “It is critical to emphasize that maintaining 6-feet social distancing remains important to slowing the spread of the virus.  CDC is additionally advising the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.  Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.

    The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators.  Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance."

Student, Parent and Academic Questions

Student Well-being

  • What can I do to focus on my overall well-being during this time?

    It can be hard when you are out of your routine to make the same healthy decisions you were making before. It's important to remember all of the aspects of your well-being (physical, emotional, spiritual, social, environmental, intellectual, occupational, financial). For more information on how to maintain healthy habits during this distance education period, visit wmich.edu/healthpromotion for virtual workshops, well-being tips, and resources.

  • What is the Student Recreation Center offering online to help me stay physically active, relieve stress and combat any anxiety/depression I may be experiencing?

    Our fitness and intramural sports staff are working diligently to provide programs that you can do from your home on a daily basis to keep you healthy and active. All of our remote programs will be available by following us on our Facebook and Instagram accounts. You can find Yoga, Zumba, Barre and HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) options. Intramurals is offering bracket challenges, Movie Scavenger Hunt, and eSports tournaments. Visit wmich.edu/rec/covid-19 for more info. We also encourage students to get outside daily: Take a walk, bike, go for a run, or discover campus/neighborhood in a new way. Get a Frisbee and play Frisbee golf using the trees as your flag.

  • I’m having a lot of stress or anxiety because of COVID-19. What can I do?

    It is common to feel stressed, anxious or overwhelmed during this time, and a lot of it comes down to feeling like we have a lack of control. Even when it feels like you don’t have control of a situation, there are things you can do:

    • Pay attention to your body and feelings for warning signs of distress
    • Maintain routine as much as possible and keep your body in good-working order
    • Practice healthy habits and kinds of self-care that benefit you. For example, get outdoors, go for a walk, try yoga or meditation, or listening to music.
    • It’s a good idea to stay informed, but be mindful of media and news exposure
    • Reach out to support people
    • Seek out 3 good things each day to help balance out the negative. Celebrate successes (even tiny wins) throughout your day.
    • People with preexisting mental health conditions should continue with their treatment plans during an emergency and monitor for any new symptoms.

    Check out additional resources at the Sindecuse Health Center Counseling Services page: wmich.edu/healthcenter/counseling/resources

  • I feel isolated and lonely. How can I continue to stay connected while quarantined or at home?

    For those who live alone, you might have to seek out more social opportunities than you typically would and find new ways to connect with friends or family virtually. For example, use a video chat application like FaceTime or Zoom to hang out with friends or family members or have a virtual game night. You can also find talk to someone at SHC Counseling Services or other online support groups.

  • I don’t feel safe at home/while quarantined. How can I protect myself?

    While staying at home is critical to slowing the spread and severity of COVID-19, not everyone feels safe in their home.

    Various organizations can provide confidential support for people who feel unsafe or for people who are concerned about someone else’s safety.

    • The FIRE Place Resource and Support Center is available virtually to help the WMU community with issues of sexual assault, unhealthy relationships, and other bias incidents. Visit wmich.edu/healthpromotion/fireplace to get connected.
    • If there is an urgent need, please contact the Michigan Sexual Assault Hotline. To Call: 855-864-2374 Text: 1-866-238-1454 Website: https://www.michigan.gov/voices4
  • I have lost a loved one during the COVID-19 outbreak. Where can I find support?

    Losing a loved one can be deeply painful, and you deserve support. The types of gatherings and social experiences that many people would usually have after the death of a loved one are often not possible during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s important to seek alternative types of support.

    Sindecuse Health Center is offering telehealth visits for many appointments including counseling and psychiatric services. Visit wmich.edu/healthcenter to get set up.

  • Are Sindecuse Health Center Counseling Services still available?

    Yes. They recognize the negative impact on the emotional health of the WMU community as a result of the spread of COVID-19 and the disruption created to everyday life. This situation is both new and unpredictable. To support WMU's move to distance learning during the COVID-19 outbreak, the health center offers telehealth visits for many appointments. Primary care, counseling and psychiatric services are available. Eligibility varies according to services sought. Visit wmich.edu/healthcenter to get set up.

  • I don’t have health insurance or a regular doctor. How can I get care? Is Sindecuse Health Center still seeing people?

    Students may choose to investigate coverage options on the Healthcare.gov insurance exchange or Healthy Michigan Plan websites. Sindecuse Health Center will work with all students to help make sure that they are able to get care. Please call if you are in need of health care and are not sure of your options. Please call (269) 387-3287.

    Sindecuse health center remains open and recognizes the challenges of COVID-19. They will work with you to have your needs met. The health center may do patient assessments over the phone or using telehealth (online). Please call (269) 387-3287.

    There are organizations that offer health care at low cost, on a sliding scale or for free, under certain conditions. Because it’s important to stay home as much as possible, please call first with your concerns, whether or not you feel sick and even if you want to be tested for COVID-19.

  • I am having financial trouble because of the effects of COVID-19. What assistance programs can help me?

    There are multiple resources on campus that can help, including:

    For help with bills, visit https://www.usa.gov/help-with-bills. Information about government programs that help with bill payment, temporary assistance, jobs/unemployment, credit, etc. Website and Helpline also offered in Spanish.

Housing

Working on Campus

COVID-19 Allowance, Insurance and Related Matters

  • I’m a Staff Compensation System employee and I do not have any work assignment. What happens when I run out of COVID-19 allowance, annual and sick leave?

    Under the current plans provided, you would fall into a no-pay status and would continue as a WMU employee according to our existing policy language. After all of WMU’s benefits have been exhausted, an employee may be eligible for new federal benefits created by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) which became effective April 1, 2020, and extends through December 31, 2020.

    For example, FFCRA includes the Expanded Family and Medical Leave Act (EFMLA) for eligible employees. This leave is available for up to 10 weeks after using the COVID-19 allowance hours. An employee must apply for EFMLA. Towards the end of April, Human Resources will provide detailed information regarding eligibility requirements, the application process and the payment to be received by the employee. Pay is calculated at two-thirds of the employee’s regular pay rate with a maximum of $200 per day for an aggregate total payment of $12,000.

    If you are not eligible for EFMLA and have used all your leave, you may remain an employee of WMU but without pay. In that case, you will be eligible to apply for unemployment benefits, including the enhanced federal unemployment benefit. For more information, call the Human Resources Service Center at (269) 387-3620.

     

     

  • What is COBRA?

    The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act —COBRA—is a health insurance program that allows an eligible employee and his or her dependents the continued benefits of health insurance coverage in the case that an employee enters a no-pay status. At WMU, there is a 30-day grace period allowed for the payment of premium to prevent any gap in coverage under COBRA for benefits-eligible employees.

  • In what order can I use my leave? Do I need to use one before the other?

    You may use COVID-19 allowance, annual leave or sick leave—or any combination of the three—at your discretion.

  • Are other leaves available to me?

    After all of WMU’s benefits have been exhausted, an employee may be eligible for new federal benefits created by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) which became effective April 1, 2020, and extends through Dec. 31, 2020.

    For example, FFCRA includes the Expanded Family and Medical Leave Act (EFMLA) for eligible employees. This leave is available for up to 10 weeks after using the COVID-19 allowance hours. An employee must apply for EFMLA. Towards the end of April, Human Resources will provide detailed information regarding eligibility requirements, the application process and the payment to be received by the employee. Pay is calculated at two-thirds of the employee’s regular pay rate with a maximum of $200 per day for an aggregate total payment of $12,000.

    For additional information, contact the Human Resources Service Center at (269) 387-3620.

  • If I go into a no-pay status, am I eligible for unemployment insurance?

    The University complies with all applicable laws regarding unemployment insurance. Employee circumstances regarding no-pay status will vary. Any concerned employee should contact the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency.

  • I’m an SCS employee and was notified that I would be on “conditional essential” status as of March 23. Is it possible I could be called back prior to April 30?

    Yes.  As necessary, a manager or supervisor could recall an employee (return to “essential” status). Every attempt will be to make these recalls for whole pay periods.

  • I’m a SCS employee. Is it possible that I will be assigned essential work for less than 40 hours per week?

    Yes, this could happen. 

  • As an employee, if I'm assigned to essential work for less than 40 hours per week, how do I get paid?

    You would report the hours you work as normal and then use the COVID-19 allowance or one of the leave balances for the remainder to achieve a 40-hour work week.

  • Will staff have insurance deducted from their paycheck if they go below normal hours?

    Yes. Under the policy, from March 23 to April 25, employees whose hours drop below normal remain responsible for the same health care deduction as before.  The employee deduction—your share—remains the same. An employee who enters no-pay status for an extended period would become subject to COBRA.

     

     

  • What is the difference between no-pay status and a layoff?

    An employee in no-pay status remains an employee of WMU while not earning pay. That individual retains his or her job and the ability to return to it when hours are available. WMU has a reduction in force—layoff—policy for SCS employees. It is not being invoked.

Campus Operations

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.

Travel

  • 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.

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.