Be smart. Be safe. Be Broncos.

Safe Return Plan

The health and safety of the entire WMU community is our first priority. We have charted a course through the COVID-19 pandemic that continues WMU’s high-quality educational experience.

At WMU, we care about each other and must work together to protect the well-being of all people in our campus community. We have adopted this safe return plan to continue to provide students, faculty, staff and visitors with a healthy space in which to learn, live and discover.  

Many voices and perspectives have contributed to the plan. Having considered the divergent and varying opinions, we are convinced that we can do this—by working together. If we follow expert advice and remain vigilant, WMU can and will operate in-person for the 2020-21 academic year, and we will have an excellent year. We know this for sure: It will take the entire community to succeed. 

Classes for the 2020-21 academic year began Sept. 2, 2020. WMU's student-facing services resumed in-person operations on Aug. 17. Each unit's daily office hours and general operations may differ from previous semesters. Please check the adjusted office hours website for updated building information.

Dashboard

  • COVID-19 Case Dashboard

    NOTES: Starting the week of Oct. 5, the Sindecuse Health Center began surveillance testing of students and employees involved in Intercollegiate Athletic programs as part of NCAA and Mid-American Conference requirements. Multiple tests for these individuals are pre-ordered in advance of the actual testing dates. After this change in procedure was made, test order dates no longer accurately represented the testing date for a large proportion of individuals tested.

    Consequently, starting the week of Oct. 5, this dashboard displays data on the test result date rather than the test order date for all tests. Archived testing and new case data based on the order date (through Oct. 2) are available on the final page of the dashboard. The total number of individuals tested and total number of new cases reported since March 31, 2020, remain unchanged.

     

A Welcoming Community

The WMU motto is, "So That All May Learn." We aim to advance that ideal every day. Western Michigan University is a place where we want to affirm human dignity by treating everyone with respect. Behavior that is dehumanizing or that engenders racism or discrimination is not welcome at WMU.  We acknowledge that systemic racism and inequities are real and exist in every institution. We will do our part to eliminate them from ours.

 

Our Safety Planning Point of View

We are inclusive and consultative: Faculty, staff, students and parents have been engaged through committees, town halls and emails as well as formal and informal meetings. We are surveying our students and listening to our families.

We are informed by experts and facts:  We listen to scientists and local, state and national public health officials. We track case numbers and an evolving understanding of the disease. Our informed decisions are designed to mitigate risk and engage with all of our communities to promote wellness.

We are resilient: Strength and resiliency will be required of all Broncos. Our society, higher education, our University and each one of us face unprecedented challenges and obstacles. We are determined to evolve and grow in response to this crisis.

We are a community: Continuing our way of life, fighting this pandemic and staying open will require thinking selflessly and acting flexibly. COVID-19 affects people differently, and the pandemic disproportionately impacts people of color and vulnerable communities. We will not tolerate the pandemic being used to excuse inequity, perpetuate systemic racism or tolerate stereotypes.

 

COVID-19 Operation Response and Recovery Plan

Western is at Phase 3.

The University’s response phases are determined by factors including community spread, illness on campus, hospital admissions, contact tracing and isolation resources, testing and equipment availability. Phases are described in detail in the COVID-19 Operational Response and Recovery Plan.  

Health and Safety at WMU

The health and safety of our students, faculty and staff are top priorities. We have taken the following steps to promote a safe learning and working environment:

  • Masks are required in indoor spaces. They are not required outdoors unless you are among 100 or more people. The facial covering (mask) policy is available on the policies webpage.
  • Testing with no out-of-pocket cost is available at Sindecuse Health Center to all students and employees. Everyone in the WMU community is strongly encouraged to get tested at Sindecuse if they develop symptoms, have exposure to a positive individual or if they would like to know their COVID-19 status.
  • The WMU Safe Campus Strategy includes four strategies for keeping the campus community safe in the time of COVID-19.
  • Expedited contact tracing is available through our electronic health record technology.
  • Physical distancing will occur wherever possible.
  • Vigilant hand-washing and personal hygiene are strongly encouraged.
  • Cleaning by custodial staff and individuals of work areas, instructional spaces and public areas of living spaces has been intensified.
  • Facilities Management is implementing best practices for building HVAC— heating, ventilation and air conditioning—systems. These practices are recommended by ASHRAE, the HVAC professional organization.
  • All students, faculty and staff are required to complete a daily health survey before arriving on campus and may be asked to show clearance status to a supervisor, faculty member, Sindecuse Health Center staff member or others through the survey's badging system.
  • Leaders must submit department-level safety plans.
  • Employees will work remotely when feasible to promote social distancing.
  • The modified academic schedule and limited business travel will mitigate disease spread.
  • More Information

    Be smart. Be Safe. Be Broncos. Collective selflessness, being gracious with one another and remaining vigilant are our greatest tools for fighting COVID-19. Staying safe requires taking protective measures at all times—not just in class or on campus. Attentiveness is required all day, every day, on campus and off. 

     

    What You Can Do

    Masks: Masks are required indoors (see information on expectations for students in residence halls below) and in outdoor spaces in gatherings of 100 or more people. Wear them inside public spaces whenever you are not alone. Accommodations for individuals who cannot safely wear masks will be arranged. Students who need accommodations should contact Disability Services for Students. Faculty and staff should contact the Office of Institutional Equity. The facial covering (mask) policy is available on the policies webpage.

    The University provided each student with two face coverings at the outset of the 2020-21 academic year. Supplementing those with additional face coverings is encouraged, as a clean mask should be used each day. Masks are also available at the information desk at the Bernhard Center.

    The success of the health and safety plan—such as our mask policyrelies on the thoughtfulness, consideration and cooperation of each individual. All members of the University community share the responsibility of adhering to the mask policy and encouraging the same in others.  

    No-cost testing and monitoring: Testing at Sindecuse Health Center is available for no out-of-pocket cost to all students and employees who are experiencing symptoms of the virus or have had a close-contact exposure. Testing claims will be filed with the student’s insurance provider, consistent with federal law requiring insurance providers pay for testing. This means we will charge insurance for those who have it, but there will be no cost to you. Those without insurance will be tested at no charge. We strongly recommend all students get tested upon arriving on campus through this no-cost option at Sindecuse. 

    Students, faculty and staff who do not have COVID-19 symptoms but who want to be tested have a total of four coronavirus tests available for no out-of-pocket expense for the 2020-21 academic year.

    Monitor your health and watch for symptoms. Do the same for those with whom you come into contact. Get tested immediately upon experiencing the earliest symptoms. Do not go to class or work sick—or if you think you may have been exposed—until you have consulted your doctor. Take care of yourself: Exercise regularly, eat well, sleep and monitor your physical and mental health. Make an appointment for your well-being.

    • Testing and in-person or telehealth primary care appointments can be scheduled by calling (269) 387-3287. In-person primary care and nursing appointments have fully resumed at Sindecuse. 

    • Counseling and psychiatry services continue to be offered to students through telehealth visits. We encourage any student who needs counseling and psychiatry services (crisis or initial) to call (269) 387-1850.

    Physical distancing: Maintain 6 feet of distance between you and others at all times: in class, at work, while eating, when meeting up with friends, even at indoor and outdoor social gatherings. Avoid travel that requires close contact with those outside your immediate social circle.

    Vigilant hygiene: Wash your hands frequently and correctly. Clean work spaces and high-touch surfaces thoroughly and frequently. Don’t share food or drinks. When sneezing or coughing, cover your mouth with a tissue or sneeze into your elbow.

    Bronco Student Pledge: Under the Bronco Student Pledge, students agree to being an active participant in keeping our campus and local communities safe from the spread of COVID-19 by following health and safety protocols specified in this Safe Return Plan and adhering to behavior expectations designed to foster the well-being of all members of the WMU community. The pledge went live on the GoWMU sign-in page Monday, Aug. 31, for students to affirm their commitment to campus health and safety. 

     

    What We Do

    No-cost testing and monitoring: Testing at Sindecuse Health Center is available for no out-of-pocket costs to all students and employees who are experiencing symptoms of the virus or had a close-contact exposure. Testing claims will be filed with the student’s insurance provider, consistent with federal law requiring insurance providers pay for testing. This means we will bill insurance for those who have it, but there will be no cost for testing for those without coverage. Those without insurance will be tested at no charge. We strongly recommend that all students get tested upon arriving on campus. Everyone should get tested immediately upon experiencing the earliest symptoms.

    Students, faculty and staff who do not have COVID-19 symptoms but who want to be tested have a total of four coronavirus tests available for no out-of-pocket expense for the 2020-21 academic year.

    Sindecuse Health Center offers rapid-result antigen testing, which provides results in 15 minutes, to detect active COVID-19 cases for University students, faculty, staff, retirees and their dependents.

    Enhanced cleaning protocols: Custodial staff are on top of cleaning procedures throughout the University. We are using specialized tools and products, such as electrostatic disinfecting equipment and Aqueous Ozone cleaning solution (no hazardous odors or toxic chemical residues). We have increased focus and intensity on high-touch areas, such as switches and door knobs. We have also upped the number of hand sanitizers across campus. The University is also hibernating some buildings so cleaning can be focused and intensified.

    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 use to clean their own work spaces, as the gap is not long enough to allow cleaning by custodial staff.

    Building systems and air-handling modifications: Facilities Management is implementing 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:

    Adjusting applicable HVAC systems to increase the amount of air brought into a building to improve the indoor environment (two times the normal rate). This is done by damper adjustments and temporarily suspending Demand Control Ventilation.

    As humidifying the indoor environment has a positive effect on the human immune system's performance and also reduces the amount of time airborne pathogens remain suspended, maintaining relative humidity between 40% and 60% reduces the potential for transmission. This is implemented where possible within WMU building systems.

    All building HVAC systems begin occupancy mode—increased ventilation—two hours before spaces are occupied. The standby mode—less ventilation—is suspended in view of the pandemic.

    In occupied buildings, depending on the type of systems and HVAC technology in place, general modifications to WMU's general air-handling practices include:

    • Disabling Demand Control Ventilation where applicable.
    • Increasing air-change rates for densely occupied spaces.
    • Enabling outside air night purge where possible.
    • Reviewing humidity levels during winter months.

    Due to the pandemic and lack of occupancy, WMU placed several buildings into hibernation status. With the return of students and occupants, there are formerly hibernated buildings that have been gradually reopened and brought back online. Part of this reopening process includes flushing of the buildings' domestic hot and cold water systems. The thorough flushing is performed to ensure the water meets safety standards established by the city of Kalamazoo, who supplies all the potable water utilized on campus. Adequate flushing helps reduce discoloration caused by non-hazardous sedimentation and also ensures the presence of trace amounts of free chlorine, which helps prevent bacterial growth.

    Enforce self-monitoring: WMU students and employees must complete a daily online health survey before or upon arriving on campus. AFSCME employees will also have a call-in protocol. 

    Department-level safety plans: Each unit must submit a return-to-campus safety plan, which includes procedures for utilizing space in a way that limits the potential for novel coronavirus spread and exposure and allows for required physical distancing; training in the usage of personal protective equipment; how the unit will receive visitors; and related topics. Each plan has been reviewed and approved by the COVID-19 Response Coordination Team.

    Remote work for employees when feasible: Working remotely is encouraged whenever it is practical. This strategy reduces the number of people physically present on campus and in offices. Each unit is developing a return-to-work plan. University leaders are also assessing which buildings will and will not be open so cleaning personnel and resources can be consolidated to provide enhanced cleaning. Preparations for return and the adaptations departments have made to accommodate remote work have supplanted the need for limited work schedules in many cases. Employees should consult with their supervisors on how and where they will continue their work. 

    Altered academic schedule to limit travel that spreads disease: Following the Sept. 2 start of fall semester, students will work through the fall without the usual October break, and in-person instruction for most classes will end on Nov. 20, about a week ahead of Thanksgiving. The last weeks of classes and final exams will be conducted remotely for most classes, and the semester will end on Dec. 19. Forgoing fall break and ending in-person instruction early reduces the public health risk associated with employees and students potentially bringing the coronavirus back to campus after traveling.

    Following winter recess, spring semester classes begin MondayJan. 112021, with the semester concluding SaturdayMay 1. Spring recess is scheduled for March 29 to April 2. Following the break, classes resume MondayApril 5, in distance education formats through the end of the semester—with the exception of courses that support degrees requiring continued hands-on learning.

     

    Exposure Protocol

    In the event someone tests positive for COVID-19, if Sindecuse Health Center performed the test, health center clinicians will notify the Kalamazoo County health department. Staff will work with county health officials to assess the patient's close contacts. As with Sindecuse, any establishment that conducts COVID-19 testing is required by law to report positive cases to the health department. 

    A WMU campus community member who has a confirmed case of COVID-19 should isolate at home and not return to campus until informed by a health care provider that it is safe to end isolation. 

    If the individual is a student who lives on campus, that student will be asked to isolate. The University will take appropriate precautions to restrict access to the living space of the isolated person. 

    Sindecuse clinicians will determine whether those in contact with confirmed cases should be sent home. Those who were in close contact with someone who was positive will be asked to quarantine. Those who test positive will isolate. 

    Clinicians also will help determine the need for temporary, full or partial closure of a facility and what cleaning protocol may be needed. Locations impacted by a positive case will be cleaned in accordance with Occupational Health and Safety Administration standards for cleaning and disinfection.

Academic Instruction at WMU

This academic year at WMU will be unlike any other. It will require flexibility, resilience and grace from the entire campus community. This year will also be characterized by a high-quality academic experience that puts health and safety at the forefront.

WMU’s strategy includes a modified academic calendar, a diverse mix of course types that includes in-person, experiential learning and physically distanced classroom environments.

Fall 2020 classes began on Sept. 2, offered via in-person, hybrid (both in-person and distance education) and virtual distance learning through Friday, Nov. 20, at noon. For most courses, the remainder of the term, including final exams, were completed remotely through virtual distance methods. There was no fall break; the semester ended Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020.

In accordance with a request by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, WMU resumed classes for the spring semester in distance-education mode on Monday, Jan. 11. Courses returned to in-person and other modalities indicated on class schedules beginning Tuesday, Jan. 19, immediately following the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday. Spring semester concludes Saturday, May 1. Spring recess is scheduled for March 29 to April 2. Following the break, classes resume Monday, April 5, in distance education formats through the end of the semester—with the exception of courses that support degrees requiring continued hands-on learning.

  • More Information

    WMU's goal is to offer the opportunity to take face-to-face courses while maintaining physical distancing requirements.

     

    Classes will be structured around safety protocols:

    • Classes of 70 and fewer will meet in physically distanced classrooms with proper safety precautions.

    • Most large classes (those with more than 70 students) will be taught via distance education.

    • Priority in-person learning will be given to experiential and hands-on learning in small-capacity classrooms.

    • Masks are required when in classrooms on campus.

     

    Class delivery methods

    In-personTraditional classroom work that meets at certain times and locations.
    HybridA combination of classroom and virtual work and meeting times.
    Asynchronous distance educationDistance education classes that do not require you to meet at scheduled times.
    Fully synchronous distance educationDistance ed classes that meet at scheduled times like an in-person class.
    Partially synchronous distance educationDistance ed classes that have some synchronous and some asynchronous instruction.

     

    In-person (traditional face-to-face)

    Courses meet physically in classrooms, laboratories or other instructional spaces in accordance with the existing meeting days and times scheduled in Banner. In-person delivery offers students hands-on or participatory learning in a physical format.

    Considerations:

    • Students will attend all scheduled in-person course meetings.

    • Students should decide whether they are comfortable sharing a classroom space with other participants, wearing a mask and interacting with social distancing measures in place.

    • Office hours will most likely be held virtually due to social distancing requirements.

     

    Hybrid

    Courses meet both in-person and through virtual delivery with 51% or more of the instruction occurring through distance ed, either asynchronously or synchronously. Asynchronous content delivery takes place virtually without any scheduled meetings, whereas synchronous content delivery takes place virtually with scheduled meetings. The hybrid format is used when some of the course delivery requires hands-on or participatory learning scenarios in a physical format.

    Considerations:

    • Students will attend all scheduled in-person or synchronous meetings.

    • For the distance ed portion of the class, students will need access to a computer with reliable Internet connectivity. Please review laptop recommendations for specific information.

    • If applicable, students will need to become familiar with synchronous meeting etiquette.

    • For the in-person portion of the class, students should consider whether they are comfortable sharing a classroom space with other participants, wearing a mask and interacting with social distancing measures in place.

    • Office hours will most likely be held virtually due to social distancing requirements.

     

    Asynchronous Distance Education

    Courses meet exclusively via distance ed through the learning management system (Elearning/D2L) and require no in-person or synchronous virtual meetings. Some instructors may offer optional virtual synchronous sessions for collaborative work or other course-related activities.

    Considerations:

    • Distance delivery offers the greatest flexibility for both students and instructors but requires a high degree of self-discipline and motivation.

    • Students need to manage their participation by checking instructor emails, course announcements, due dates and, if applicable, group assignments.

    • Students should make a point to read faculty feedback on their assignments and seek out help in a timely manner from the instructor or teaching assistants. It is easy to fall behind in a class when it does not meet in-person.

    • Exams and other assessments may also be time-limited or held on specific days and times.

    • Students will need access to a computer with reliable Internet connectivity. Please review laptop recommendations for specific information.

    • Office hours will be held virtually.

     

    Fully Synchronous Distance Education

    Courses meet exclusively through distance education technologies according to the pre-scheduled meeting days and times as indicated in Banner. The learning management system (Elearning/D2L) and other distance and collaboration technologies are used to facilitate activities such as discussions, collaborative exercises, distribution of materials, collection of deliverables, grades, etc.

    As an example, a synchronous distance ed course scheduled for TR 9:30-10:45 would stream its content and engage students in discussions via Webex during those scheduled times. 

    Considerations:

    • This format allows students and instructors to follow a predictable schedule of meeting times without needing to be in a classroom space.

    • Students will need to become familiar with synchronous meeting etiquette.

    • Students are required to attend all scheduled synchronous course meetings.

    • Office hours will be held virtually.

     

    Partially Synchronous Distance Education

    Courses are facilitated through the learning management system (Elearning/D2L) and require no in-person sessions, but instructors can incorporate periodic synchronous virtual sessions when the subject matter requires real-time demonstration, collaboration or interaction. The dates and times for required synchronous sessions will be made clear to students on syllabi so they can coordinate their academic, personal and work schedules.

    Considerations:

    • Students will need access to a computer with reliable Internet connectivity. Please review laptop recommendations for specific information.

    • Students need to manage their participation by checking instructor emails, course announcements, due dates and, if applicable, group assignments.

    • Students should make a point to read faculty feedback on their assignments and seek out help in a timely manner from the instructor or teaching assistants. It is easy to fall behind in a class when it does not meet in-person.

    • Students will need to become familiar with synchronous meeting etiquette.

    • Students are required to attend all scheduled synchronous course meetings.

    • Office hours will be held virtually.

    If students need more information about technology requirements or if they want access to technology tutorials, they can visit the Elearning webpage or laptop recommendations.

     

    Contingency planning

    Faculty teaching in-person and hybrid courses have been encouraged to develop rapid-transition plans in the event that WMU, in consultation with local public health officials or by government directive, must transition to fully distance education delivery. For those classes not offered through distance learning, faculty have been asked to have transition plans at the ready so they can move to fully remote instruction within 48 hours if needed.

     

    Support

    Academic advising, tutoring and career services will be available to students both virtually and in-person during the fall semester. Visit the adjusted office hours website for building access information.

     

    At-home high-speed internet needs

    For some of our students, access to high-speed internet may be a hindrance. The State of Michigan, in partnership with Connected Nation Michigan, has developed a statewide Wi-Fi hotspot map to assist those students.

     

    On-campus Wi-Fi

    WMU has amplified activity to cover many outdoor spaces on campus to make it easier to access the internet.

     

    Laptops

    Laptop specifications and a laptop loaner program are available to support students in purchasing or securing the necessary hardware for a flexible semester.

     

    How do I order my textbooks and course materials?

    Textbooks, course materials, tech and gear are available to order online on the Bookstore’s website. The WMU Bookstore provides contact-free home delivery.

     

    Can I visit the WMU Bookstore in person?

    To accommodate physical distancing, a limited number of customers will be allowed in the store at one time. Masks are required, and order pickup lines will reflect 6-foot distancing.  Visit the adjusted office hours website for store access information.

Living on WMU's Campus

WMU Housing and Residence Life

Our staff in WMU’s residence halls and apartments welcomed students to campus in August 2020. With a modified move-in process, new policies and procedures, and enhanced cleaning and physical distancing measures, staff are focused on student health and well-being.

Adjustments include:

  • Closing halls with community bathrooms that are not semi-private. Western Heights has semi-private bathrooms with floor to ceiling walls and a full door.

  • Modifying move-in to a touchless process while promoting social distancing.

  • Requiring masks indoors but not in one’s own room.

  • Increasing the frequency and intensity of cleaning in public spaces.

  • Enhancing safety measures.

  • Limiting occupancy in gathering spaces.

  • More Information

    Housing Options

    Public health concerns, social distancing requirements and related constraints brought on by COVID-19 required us to temporarily forgo the use of some facilities. Residence halls with community bathrooms are closed for the 2020-21 academic year as a safety precaution. 

    Western Heights (WH) has semi-private bathrooms, so the complex remains open. The shower and toilet stalls have three floor-to-ceiling walls and a floor-to-ceiling door. The bathroom is disinfected multiple times a day, including a daily deep cleaning. There is a maximum of 36 residents in each single-gender house.

    We have made the following changes to our housing options this year:

    • Ernest and Smith Burnhams and Henry Hall will not be open.

    • Residents of Ackley, Britton and Hadley Halls in Valley 1 will be meal-plan optional.

    • Learning communities have been moved: 

      • Aviation House moved to Ackley Hall (Valley 1).

      • Fine Arts House moved to Harvey Hall (Valley 2).

      • Honors Community has no change.

      • Suspended communities: Education Community, Human Performance House, Honors STEM/Health option, Honors subsets in business, engineering and fine arts.

    •  Shilling Transfer Community will still have single rooms.

     

    Move-In

    We have a move-in plan that is designed to enhance safety. 

    Students are encouraged to get tested for COVID-19 with no out-of-pocket expense at Sindecuse Health Center the day they arrive on campus and prior to checking in at their residence hall or apartment. Testing claims will be filed with the student’s insurance provider, consistent with federal law requiring insurance providers pay for testing. Those without insurance will not be charged. In the event a student tests positive, the student will be provided appropriate guidance from Sindecuse health professionals. Sindecuse will also lead contact tracing for positive diagnoses in coordination with the Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department.

    WMU Housing and Residence Life has identified isolation spaces for students unable to leave campus. See the FAQ entry below for more information about isolation and quarantine, and what that means for individual students.

     

    Move-in Procedure

    • Local students will be asked to drop off belongings early and return on their move-in day.

    • Residents will be assigned a move-in block that will be capped at 33 students per building.

    • Each resident will be permitted a maximum of two move-in helpers who will be required to wear face coverings.

    • Masks will be required while outside of one’s own room or apartment.

    • An online pre-check-in form and touchless check-in will be provided.

    • We will enhance custodial support to intensify cleaning.

    Visit housing's website to see the move-in schedule and full move-in details.

  • Frequently Asked Questions

    Click on the question below to view response:

     

    Will there be housing contract and rate adjustments with students leaving Nov. 20? Will there be options if someone needs to stay until Dec. 18 or later?

    Under the University’s revised academic calendar for the 2020-21 academic year, most in-person instruction is ending Nov. 20, 2020. In response to that change, WMU has several options to consider.

    If all of your classes will be delivered via distance education and you choose to complete your course work from home, you will be allowed to cancel your housing contract with no penalty if you do so by 5 p.m. on Aug. 3, 2020. To cancel your contract, sign into the housing portal, click on Contract/Lease Cancellation Request and then follow the prompts.

    Once Housing and Residence Life confirms all of your classes will be delivered via distance education, you will receive an approved cancellation email to your WMU email account and your cancellation will be complete. If you do not cancel by Aug. 3, and you decide to do so later, you will be subject to our regular cancellation policy, which is included in the contract.  If you have any face-to-face classes and you decide to cancel your housing contract, you will be subject to our regular cancellation policy.

    Please note that should you decide to move back into on campus housing for the spring semester, there is no guarantee that your space will still be available, as it may be occupied by another resident.

    If your classes will be delivered via in-person, hybrid, distance education or a combination thereof, you will be billed for the fall 2020 room and board charges as indicated on your housing contract and at the applicable rate found at wmich.edu/housing/info/rates.

    The date that you will move into your residence hall will not change, but you will be provided with two options to complete the semester:

    1. You may choose to continue to live in the residence halls through the end of the fall 2020 semester, which concludes Dec. 18. If this is your choice, no further action is required. It is important to consider that many on-campus resources will continue to be available between Nov. 20 and Dec. 18, such as modified dining services.
    2. You may choose to move out of the residence halls on Nov. 20, 2020.  If this is your choice, you may be eligible for a housing credit as follows:  
    • An $860 WMU account credit for residents with a meal plan during the 2020 fall semester
    • A $430 WMU account credit for residents without a meal plan during the 2020 fall semester

    Students must meet the following criteria to be eligible for the credit:

    • You must complete the early move-out request found in the housing portal. This will be available starting on Monday, Sept. 14, 2020, at 1 p.m.
    • You must be living in the residence halls during the fall 2020 semester as of Oct. 2, 2020.  These credits are not available to students who move out of the halls on Oct. 2 or before.
    • You may not be eligible for the credit if you have received institutional funds for room and board, including, but not limited to, student athlete scholarship recipients, resident assistants and room grant recipients.  If you have received institutional funds, your credit may be reduced or you may receive no credit.  If you have questions about the amount of credit that you received, you should contact Bronco Express.

    How was the credit determined?

    The residence halls were scheduled to be open for 110 days during fall 2020. Students have the option option of moving out of the halls by Nov. 20, missing 28 of those days. About half of the costs of operating a residence hall are variable, and about half are fixed. A variable cost varies from day to day. Examples are perishable food and student staffing. Fixed costs are incurred for the entire year, cannot be liquidated, and make it possible for the facilities to exist and operate. Examples are building debt service, contracted services and building maintenance.

    Moving out on Nov. 20 will cause students to miss about 25% of their time in the halls. The variable portion of that loss is approximately 12.5%. Using that calculation, and rounding up, the University arrived at a $860 credit.

    About half of the cost of a room and meal plan is the room portion and the other half is the meal portion. The room-only credit of $430 is half of the credit of $860.

     

    Will I need to move out on Nov. 20?

    If you are planning to go home on Nov. 20 and return to WMU for spring semester, you may leave your belongings, taking home essential items as needed over the break. If you do not plan to return in the spring, there will be a designated date by which to move out.

     

    What if I do not want to live on campus due to COVID-19?

    Students wishing to cancel their housing contracts must submit a cancellation request. A cancellation fee may apply, depending on your schedule of courses and when you cancel. 

    To cancel your housing, log into the housing portal and click on the "Contract/Lease Cancellation Request" link. Your request will be reviewed, and you will receive an email reply regarding your contract status. 

     

    How will resident's safety be safeguarded?

    Our residences are smaller versions of the University community. Therefore, the first step toward protecting yourself and others is to follow the four key safety behaviors. They are presented here with the adapted behaviors that are required in your campus home, including residence halls and apartments.

     

    Masks

    Masks are required indoors, except if in one's own room. Wear them inside public spaces whenever you are not alone. Accommodations for individuals who cannot safely wear masks will be arranged. Students who need accommodations should contact Disability Services for Students. Faculty and staff should contact the Institutional Equity

    The University will provide students and employees with two face coverings. Consider bringing additional face coverings because a clean one should be used each day.

    In Campus Housing: Residents will be expected to wear masks in residence hall public areas, including lobbies, lounges, elevators and stairwells and laundry rooms. Masks are not required in your room or apartment. We recommend wearing them in your room if someone from a neighboring room is visiting.

     

    No-cost testing and monitoring

    Testing at Sindecuse Health Center is available for no out-of-pocket cost to all students and employees who are experiencing symptoms of the virus or have had a close-contact exposure. Testing claims will be filed with the student’s insurance provider, consistent with federal law requiring insurance providers pay for testing. This means we will charge insurance for those who have it, but there will be no cost to you. Those without insurance will be tested at no charge. Testing and in-person or telehealth primary care appointments can be scheduled by calling (269) 387-3287. We strongly recommend all students get tested upon arriving on campus through this no-cost option at Sindecuse.

     

    Physical distancing

    Maintain 6 feet of distance between you and others to the maximum extent possible: In class, while eating, when meeting with friends, even at parties (seriously). Avoid travel that requires close contact with those outside your immediate social circle.

    Think of your roommates the way you might think of your family at home. When you protect yourself, you are also protecting your roommates and friends. Keep your roommates in the know about symptoms or exposure so they can take the appropriate testing and contact-tracing steps. 

    For those Western Heights residents in semi-private bathrooms, students will be encouraged to create physical distance at sinks. The bathroom is disinfected multiple times a day, including a daily deep cleaning. There is a maximum of 36 residents in each single-gender house.

     

    Vigilant hygiene

    Wash your hands frequently and correctly. Clean workspaces and high-touch surfaces thoroughly and frequently. Don’t share food or drinks. When sneezing or coughing, cover your mouth with a tissue or sneeze into your elbow.

    Residence halls and apartment complexes are cleaned by custodial professionals who specialize in educational and office environments. They are on-site daily. Custodial practices were developed using U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and industry recommendations. Custodial employees wear personal protective equipment, complete a health screening at the beginning of each shift and practice social distancing.

     

    How will residence halls be cleaned?

    All high-frequency touch points in residence halls are cleaned and disinfected multiple times each day.

    Semi-private and public bathrooms are deep cleaned daily and wiped down (disinfected) multiple times each day along with product stock checks and refills.

    Public spaces are cleaned with electrostatic disinfecting equipment prior to move-in. This equipment will continue to be used during the semester to disinfect large spaces quickly and effectively.

    The high-touch surfaces that are cleaned and disinfected multiple times per day. Those include door handles, light switches, hand sanitizer dispensers, tabletops and counters, seating, water bottle filling stations, stair handrails and elevator buttons.  

    In kitchens and house commons, high-touch intensive cleaning includes door handles, light switches, tabletops and counters, seating, appliance exteriors and handles, sink faucets and handles, and telephones (house commons).

    In Residence Halls, we will also provide the following: 

    • Hand sanitizer dispensers are located in all residence hall lobbies. Stations in residence hall lobbies are checked and restocked daily.

    • Plexiglas is installed at all front desks and in-hall offices to reduce contact between students and staff while still providing needed services.

    • Gloves are provided for staff who handle and distribute mail and packages.

    • All buildings have signs and markings as reminders of social distancing requirements.

    • When inside buildings, please keep right in stairwells and hallways, and make every effort to maintain social distancing.

     

    How will the apartments be cleaned?

    All high-frequency touch points in apartment common areas are cleaned and disinfected multiple times per day.

    Bathrooms are deep cleaned daily and wiped down (disinfected) multiple times a day along with product stock checks and refills.

    All public spaces are cleaned with electrostatic disinfecting equipment prior to move-in. This equipment will continue to be used during the semesters to disinfect large spaces quickly and effectively.

    The high-touch surfaces that are cleaned and disinfected multiple times a day. Those include door handles, light switches, hand sanitizer dispensers, tabletops and counters, seating, water bottle filling stations, stair handrails and elevator buttons.

    In public spaces, high-touch surfaces are cleaned and disinfected multiple times a day. Those include door handles, light switches, tabletops and counters, seating, appliance exteriors and handles, and sink faucets and handles.

    In Spindler Hall, we will also provide the following:

    • Hand sanitizer dispensers located in the lobby. They are checked and restocked regularly.
    • Plexiglas is installed at the front desks to reduce contact between students and staff while still providing needed services.
    • Gloves are provided for staff who handle and distribute mail and packages.
    • The building has signs and markings as reminders of social distancing requirements.
    • When inside the building, please keep right in stairwells and hallways, and make every effort to maintain social distancing.

     

    What are the Western Heights bathrooms like?

    Each WH house (floor) has two fully enclosed bathrooms as well as a large shared bathroom. In the shared bathroom, shower and toilet stalls have three floor-to-ceiling walls and a floor-to-ceiling door. The bathroom is disinfected multiple times a day, including a daily deep cleaning. There is a maximum of 36 residents in each single-gender house.

     

    What happens if I develop symptoms for COVID-19?

    Get tested immediately at the earliest symptoms. Sindecuse Health Center has rapid-result testing available. Call ahead for a telehealth appointment and familiarize yourself with their COVID-19 information online.

     

    What happens if I test positive for COVID-19?

    Students who test positive for COVID-19 should follow the recommendations of their health professional. Contact tracing for all positive diagnoses will be conducted by the Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department in coordination with Sindecuse Health Center professionals.

    WMU Housing and Residence Life has identified isolation spaces for students unable to leave campus. Food will be delivered to rooms of those isolated or quarantined using no-touch measures.

     

    What is the difference between isolation and quarantine?

    "Isolation" is required for a student on campus who has tested "positive" for COVID-19. These students will move to the designated isolation hall for 10 days and must remain in isolation for the entire 10-day period. If requested, these students will receive food delivered to their room. Isolation can also be achieved by relocating to an off-campus address.

    A student living on campus will be directed to "quarantine" if they have been exposed to COVID-19, requiring removal from contact with the campus community for a period of 10 days. Quarantine may be achieved by relocating to an off-campus address, relocating to the quarantine-designated hall or quarantining in the student's present living space, depending on how the student was exposed. Students must remain in their quarantine space for the entire 10-day period. Food will be delivered to students in quarantine, if requested.

    • If a student's roommate or suitemate has tested positive, the student may remain in quarantine in their existing room; the positive student will move to isolation housing or relocate to an off-campus location. 
    • If a student was exposed to a positive COVID-19 case outside their room or suite, the student will need to relocate to the quarantine hall or an off-campus address. Their roommates or suitemates would remain in their room or suite.

    If a quarantined student develops symptoms, they will have access to a telehealth appointment with Sindecuse Health Center. They will also receive written follow-up instructions from Sindecuse, which are also available in the Sindecuse online health portal. Students who have been directed to isolate or quarantine are required to follow the guidelines above and those provided by Sindecuse Health Center or their treating health professional. 

     

    What happens if my roommate or suitemate has been exposed to COVID-19?

    If your roommate or suitemate is notified by a contact tracer that they have been exposed to COVID-19 and you have not, they will move to WMU's quarantine housing or to an off-campus address, and you will remain in your existing room or suite. 

    If both you and your roommate or suitemate have been exposed to COVID-19, you may remain in your existing room for quarantine.

     

    What happens if my roommate or suitemate tests positive for COVID-19?

    If your roommate or suitemate tests positive for COVID-19, they will move to isolation housing or to an off-campus location. Once this happens, you will be required to quarantine and avoid contact with the campus community for 10 days. You can quarantine in your existing room or suite, and food will be delivered to you, if requested.

     

    What are my responsibilities as a resident?

    You are responsible for following all safety and public health guidelines as provided in this plan and by housing staff. Your room or apartment will be cleaned and disinfected before you arrive. Once here, it is your responsibility to regularly clean and disinfect your room, including the exterior door handle. Suitemates should work together to clean the bathroom. We will provide suggested cleaning guidelines.

    Click here for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for cleaning your home.

     

    Will guests be allowed in the halls and apartments?

    Guests, defined as anyone not living in your current residence hall or WMU apartment, are not allowed. Students may have one visitor, meaning someone who lives in your current residence hall or WMU apartment, in their room or apartment. Visitors may not spend the night. Roommates and suitemates should consent to a visitor prior to them coming into the room or apartment. Hosts and visitors are encouraged to wear a mask when in the room or WMU apartment, according to the full guest rule.

     

    Are common areas open?

    Yes. We want you to be safe and be social. New occupancy limits for lounges are posted so physical distancing can be maintained. Furniture in lounges will match the maximum number of occupants.

     

    Are laundry rooms open?

    Yes. Each hall and apartment complex, other than Western View, has a laundry room. New occupancy limits for laundry rooms are posted. Students should wipe down machines before and after use. You can use the WaveVision laundry app to check machine availability before going to the laundry room to see how much time is left until your laundry is done. You can also sign up to get a text message when your laundry is done.

     

    For more information about housing, visit the Housing and Residence Life webpage.

Dining at WMU

The WMU dining experience is designed to protect the well-being and safety of all patrons while providing nutritious and delicious food and the opportunity to socialize within the safety guidelines. Throughout the pandemic, Dining Services has adapted and evolved service style, location, points of service, hours of service, and health and safety procedures consistently and often ahead of directives and recommendations. You can review changes in Dining Services’ orientation video.

Students with food allergies or special dietary needs will find options and meals that control or eliminate ingredients. Students with special dietary needs are strongly encouraged to contact Emily Hazel, Dining Services nutrition specialist, in advance of arriving at WMU. She can be reached at emily.v.hazel@wmich.edu.

Meal plans will provide students access to dining centers and grab 'n' go locations, as well as sandwich carryout (customized sandwich ordered online). Students will have the ability to customize some of the selections from micro-restaurants in the dining centers, though some choices may be eliminated to expedite service (such as discontinuing the option to have a burrito grilled). Everything will be served to students, though students can choose how much food they would like to be served from the dining centers.  

All locations have occupancy limits along with reduced-seating capacities in the dining centers to allow room for physical distancing. Guidelines and reminders about 6-foot distancing and appropriate wearing of face masks are posted throughout the dining locations and entrances. All guests and employees will be expected to wear face coverings except when seated and eating.

WMU Dining Services, in compliance with the state health department's Oct. 29, 2020, Gatherings and Face Masks Epidemic Order, is asking students and guests paying with cash or credit card to submit their name and phone number when entering the Dining Centers. Students who use their meal plan or Dining Dollars are not required to provide any additional information since their name is already recorded and time stamped by swiping their Bronco Card.

For hours and building access information for Dining Services' locations, please visit the adjusted office hours website.

  • More Information

    Dining in

    As capacity allows, students will have the opportunity to dine in the dining centers. Meal selections are plated and will be handed to the customer or available for the customer to select. Self-service and customer use of serving utensils and dispensers has been eliminated. This service style eliminates touch points and speeds service so lines are minimized or avoided.

    Two dining centers, Hoekje/Bigelow and the Valley Dining Center, will continue to serve all-you-care-to-eat options. Additionally, two grab 'n' go locations (each located right next to a dining center) will offer to-go meals with similar, though less extensive, options for quick and secure services. The menus for dining centers and grab 'n' go locations will be posted online at wmich.edu/dining/options.

    Monday through Friday, dining centers will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner (Valley Dining Center will also serve late-night meals, Monday through Thursday), and grab 'n' go locations will serve lunch, snacks and dinner. Weekend options include breakfast, lunch and dinner at the Valley Dining Center as well as grab 'n' go options at Henry grab 'n' go, located next to the Hoekje/Bigelow Dining Center from noon to 6 p.m. The dining centers will close daily from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. to allow dining staff to thoroughly disinfect all surfaces and touch points (grab 'n'  go locations will remain open). Enhanced cleaning and disinfection procedures occur prior, during and after meal service as well as frequent sanitation throughout service. 

     

    Grab 'n' Go

    Dining Services offers a grab 'n' go menu with items packaged for customer selection. The service area is set up for one-way customer traffic and physical distancing of 6 feet, as delineated by floor markers. Management will monitor customer traffic inside or outside of a service area to prevent crowding. 

     

    Cleaning procedures

    Dining Services is following expanded and more intensive cleaning and sanitizing procedures for spaces including kitchen prep areas, dine-in service areas, grab 'n' go service areas, customer contact and high-touch points throughout the facilities.

     

    Employee health and PPE requirements 

    Employees receive extensive training on all procedures related to cleaning and disinfecting protocols, safe service and safe work procedures. All employees must complete a daily wellness check. Dining Services has further heightened hand-washing frequency. Staff are required to properly wear face masks and practice physical distancing throughout shifts and during breaks. This is further enhanced by properly placed Plexiglas barriers throughout the entrance and service areas. All employees have responsibilities and participate in enhanced cleaning and disinfecting procedures. Learn more at wmich.edu/dining/precautions.

Bronco Card Procedures

New this year, rather University personnel taking photos for the Bronco Card—WMU's employee and student identification card—you may submit your own headshot. Your Bronco Card is used for dining, residence halls, riding the bus, WMU events and more.

Students and employees can start the process of getting their Bronco Card by submitting a photo online at https://photo.wmupd.wmich.edu, which also provides details on the type of photos that will be accepted. After a photo has been submitted and approved, allow 24 hours for processing of the information you provided. Bronco Cards may be obtained at Parking Services after the photo has been submitted, accepted and approved. Parking Services is open Monday through Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

If a replacement card is needed, please contact the Bronco Card Office at (269) 387-6278 or email dps-broncocard@wmich.edu. Obtaining a new Bronco Card may result in a replacement fee.

 

Work and Play Outside of Class

Stay safe. Stay social. Social connections are some of the most important and fulfilling aspects of going to college. However, we want you to do it safely. The policies we have created are designed to balance the importance of safety with the mental health and life enrichment importance of social connection.

Students can expect that public spaces will be open and available for working together and hanging out. Furniture will be arranged to enable social distancing and masks will be worn. RSOs are permitted to meet virtually. Dining is open on campus. The Student Recreation Center—SRC—is offering both individual and group exercise while adhering to masking and physical distancing requirements. Learn more about the SRC at wmich.edu/recCheck the adjusted office hours website to view updated building access information.

  • More Information

    Outdoor Space and Gatherings Guidance

    There are many outdoor spaces and venues on campus that can accommodate groups ranging from a handful of people to several thousand. Outdoor space requests should be processed with some consideration, including, but not limited to compliance with the WMU COVID-19 health and safety plan.  The following guidelines should help in decision making for any request for campus space: 

    • The ability of the group to maintain 6 feet of social distance in the event space or wear a face covering if social distancing is not possible.
    • The ability of the group organizer to identify persons attending the gathering for possible contact tracing in the event of a positive COVID-19 exposure. 
    • The ability of the group organizer to administer a health screening questionnaire to determine if anyone might have symptoms or possible exposure to COVID-19 before that person is admitted to the event. 
    • To consider if the event or gathering supports student engagement or academic mission. 

    WMU is operating with very limited resources.  Care should be taken when processing non-University affiliated group requests.  All spaces that have events need the support of WMU custodial or Landscape services. If groups require access to restrooms for their event, then it will need to be coordinated with Facilities Management to ensure proper support for the event. They will be responsible for any costs associated with this support.

    For any gathering, people should continue to maintain at least 6 feet of physical distance and properly wear a mask in accordance with the University's facial covering policy. Masks are required in indoor spaces. They are not required outdoors unless you are among 100 or more people. Sanctions remain in place for campus community members who violate the University’s safety protocols.

    Under rules at WMU:

    • All employees who can perform their duties remotely should continue to do so to the maximum extent possible, in consultation with their supervisor.
    • 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.
    • Students who are working at internships or externships should follow the direction and policies at their location to continue their work.

    Student Employment

    Students who are new to campus or interested in finding a new opportunity can discover job opportunities at Career and Employment Services.

Getting Around Campus and Town

The University has a contract with the local transit authority to provide bus service to the campus community. Throughout the semester, routes will be adjusted as needed based on usage, safety considerations and budget.

  • More Information

    Safety requirements

    The transit authority has taken the following steps to address ridership capacity and social distancing:

    • Face coverings are required for all riders.
    • Passengers will enter and exit from the rear door of the bus.
    • A hand sanitizer dispenser is installed inside the rear door for passengers to use.
    • Seating on the bus has been designated to promote social distancing. No standing is allowed.
    • As weather permits, drivers will operate their bus with the hatches open and the windows open to facilitate the greatest air flow through the bus.

     

    Cleaning

    • Buses and vans are sanitized daily. This entails spraying sanitizer on all touchable surfaces in the passenger and driver compartments.
    • Buses and vans are being detailed on a weekly basis. This includes wiping down all handrails, straps, wheelchair tie down strap ends and ratchets, seat control handles and seat belt ends, radio mics and knobs, and all dashboard knobs and controls.
    • Additionally, aerosol disinfectant foggers are used weekly in buses and vans.

     

    Route information

    To view updated route information for buses navigating to and from WMU's campus, visit the Busing webpage.

Parking at WMU

Beginning fall semester, WMU Parking Services will have a virtual permit system, replacing physical parking tags and stickers, and will no longer require permits on campus to park overnight and on weekends.

  • More Information

    Under the new system, students purchase an internet-based permit online where parking rights are assigned to the license plate of a registered vehicle.

    Vehicles can be registered at any time by clicking the "Get a Permit" button located on the Parking Services main webpage. Follow the prompts to complete the process.

    Virtual permits are then scanned by parking enforcement officers to verify the vehicle is parked according to its designated parking rights. When parking with a virtual permit, the vehicle should be parked with the plate facing the aisle so it can be easily read.

     

    The system has a number of advantages for the Bronco community, including:

     

    Increased convenience

    You can register for a parking permit anywhere, at any time, with a computer, smartphone or tablet. Permits are valid immediately, so you don't have to make a trip to the Parking Services office or wait for a permit to arrive in the mail.


    Greater flexibility

    Family, rental and loaner cars can also be attached to the users account and selected for the permit during the time they are being used, with the vehicle switch and permit activated in real time. No more trips to Parking Services to obtain a temporary permit while your primary vehicle is out of service. Upon discontinuing the use of a temporary vehicle, such as a rental or a loaner, it can be removed from the account by contacting Parking Services.


    Improved sustainability

    Did you know Parking Services replaces hundreds of lost permits each year? With this system, you won't have to worry about paying to replace a lost or stolen permit. In addition, Parking Services will stop printing and distributing tens of thousands of permits annually, which is a plus for sustainability.

     

    More information about this new technology can be found online.

    In addition, to help facilitate an open and accessible campus when the demand for parking is less, permits will no longer be required to park on campus between 5 p.m. and 2 a.m. on weekdays or from 4 p.m. on Friday to 2 a.m. on Monday.

    Accessibility spaces, reserved spaces, 15-minute spaces, 30-minute spaces, "not parked in a marked space" and tow-zone violations will still be enforced 24 hours a day. Events with a need for parking are still required to register with Parking Services, even if it occurs after hours or on weekends, and might be charged a user fee in certain instances.

    For questions, email parking@wmich.edu or call Parking Services at (269) 387-4609 during business hours of 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday.

Western at Work

WMU's student-facing services have resumed in-person operations. Each unit's daily office hours and general operations may differ from previous semesters. Please check the adjusted office hours website to review building access, hours of operation and contact information. Each unit's return-to-work plans are available online.

  • To the maximum degree possible, employees will work remotely for the foreseeable future. This approach helps promote physical distancing. Supervisors will determine work assignments, locations and plans consistent with each department’s return-to-work safety plan.

  • Employees are required to wear masks indoors in public spaces. Mask are not required outdoors unless you are among 100 or more people.

  • A mask may be removed if in a private office with the door closed and the expectation of no visitors.

  • Employees will check for COVID-19 symptoms and complete the daily health screening before coming to campus each day. 

  • The standard approval process for essential travel to conferences and in-state and domestic travel events utilized prior to COVID-19 has been restored as of May 2021. Travel needs to be approved by your department's vice president using the waiver form available on the travel webpage.

WMU will work with staff who are at heightened risk of infection. If at all possible, the University will make reasonable accommodations to allow these employees to work in a lower-risk environment.

  • Frequently Asked Questions

    For employees:

     

    When I return to campus for work, what information will I have to disclose to the University? 

    Each day prior to coming to any campus facility or participating in any University activity, employees must complete the survey in the health portal. It has a series of basic questions, such as whether you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms. The information sought is just enough to determine whether the survey taker needs to be assessed at Sindecuse Health Center. Sindecuse will be automatically notified of any “yes” answers. 

    Once at Sindecuse, you enter a HIPAA-protected process wherein health information is not shared beyond your health care providers and those you specify. However, if you test positive for COVID-19, the University is required to report that information, including your identity, to county public health officials. This is necessary so the county health department can conduct contact tracing. The University will also issue a notice to those with a “need to know,” e.g., health care providers, supervisors and close contacts. 

     

    Who will have access to any health-related information I disclose, and how will the University protect it? 

    Only those with a “need to know,” e.g., health care providers, supervisors and close contacts, will have access to your COVID-19-related health information. Individuals outside of Sindecuse with a "need to know" will only know whether you are positive for COVID-19. They will not have access to other medical records or information. 

    HIPAA and other confidentiality rules are relaxed during instances of public health emergencies, which is what we are experiencing with the current pandemic. 

     

    What do I do if I need an accommodation to address either having to wear a mask or working on site?

    You and your supervisor must reach out to the Office of Institutional Equity—IE—to begin the interactive process. 

     

    Do I have to wear a mask/facial covering at my work location? 

    Yes, unless you are alone in an enclosed area, you do not expect visitors and your door is closed. The University's facial covering (mask) policy is available online. 

     

    Is the University allowed to ask me if I have COVID-19 or any related conditions? 

    The University may ask you if you have COVID-19 or COVID-19-related symptoms, and will do so via the daily health survey. 

    The University may not ask you if you have underlying conditions that would increase your risk if you are exposed to COVID-19. 

    If you do have underlying conditions that place you at a higher risk for COVID-19, you and your supervisor must contact IE to discuss whether your situation is appropriate for a reasonable accommodation. 

     

    Is the University allowed to ask me if I or a family member fall into a high-risk category for purposes of COVID-19? 

    No, but you will have to provide information about yourself if you are seeking an accommodation. 

    If you are seeking an accommodation, you and your supervisor must contact the Office of Institutional Equity to evaluate whether a reasonable accommodation is available. 

     

    What do I do if my supervisor is not following the mask policy or other COVID-19-related policies, procedures or protocols? 

    Reports should then go to your next level supervisor and, ultimately, to your dean, vice president or the Office of the Provost, as appropriate in your area. No act of retaliation from supervisors for such reporting will be tolerated. 

    If you are non-academic affairs bargaining unit staff, report to the director of labor relations. 

     

    Who determines whether I can telecommute? 

    Your supervisor determines if the essential functions of your position require that you be in the office. 

    By University request and governor’s order, it is strongly encouraged that any work capable of being performed remotely (e.g., without employees leaving their place of residence) be performed remotely. However, the ultimate decision whether an employee can effectively work remotely is determined by your supervisor. 

    For faculty, instructional delivery methods on courses have been determined for the semester based on their selections and are on record with the registrar. Deviation from the registered method for the semester requires an accommodation from Institutional Equity. 

     

    Can a supervisor discipline an employee or send them home if they will not wear a mask or facial covering? 

    Yes, unless you have requested and been granted a reasonable accommodation or fit under one of the other exceptions stated in the mask policy

     

    Do I have to come to work if I have a medical diagnosis that places me in a high-risk population? 

    Yes, unless you have requested and been granted a reasonable accommodation based on your disability. 

    If you have a medical diagnosis that places you in a high-risk category, you and your supervisor must contact Institutional Equity to evaluate reasonable accommodations. 

    You may also take annual leave, COVID-19 leave or other medical leave options (FMLA, EFMLA, etc.) with supervisor approval, consistent with Employee Handbook Section 11

     

    Do I have to come to work if I am over 65, which puts me in a high-risk population? 

    Yes. Age alone is not a disability, so it does not fall under the reasonable accommodation framework of the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

     

    If I work in a cubicle or other open workstation, do I have to wear a mask? 

    Yes, unless no one else is in your workspace and you do not expect others to enter your workspace. Social distancing must be maintained. 

     

    If I work in an office with a door, do I have to wear a mask? 

    No, as long as you are alone in the office and the door is closed. 

     

    Is the University providing masks for employees? 

    Yes. Your supervisor will make two masks available for you. 

    You may also bring your own face covering as long as it meets the requirements set out in the mask policy. 

     

    Do I have to get a COVID-19 test to return to campus for work? 

    Not unless you have symptoms or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. 

    Yes, if either of the above conditions are true. 

     

    May I report that I believe a co-worker may have COVID-19 symptoms? 

    Yes, as long as Michigan remains in a public health emergency due to COVID-19, you are encouraged to report anyone whom you believe may have COVID-19 symptoms and who is not taking the proper precautions. 

    This information should be reported to your supervisor. 

     

    May I report that I believe a co-worker is not wearing a mask/facial covering? 

    Yes, it is strongly encouraged. Report first to your supervisor. 

    If you see a student who is not following the mask policy, report that information to the Office of Student Conduct. 

    Employees may elect to ask anyone they see not wearing a mask to do so. If the person is a guest on campus (not a student, faculty or staff member) and does not comply, then contact the WMU Department of Public Safety. 

     

    Will workers' compensation cover my testing if a co-worker is positive and I decide to/am encouraged to get tested? 

    Not unless you have been granted Workers’ Compensation benefits for COVID-19.

    If you think you were exposed to COVID-19 at work, follow the standard University process for evaluating and processing workers’ compensation claims. You may be eligible for no-cost testing at Sindecuse Health Center. 

     

    May the University tell my co-workers that I have tested positive for COVID-19? 

    The University may disclose the existence of a positive COVID-19 result to prevent a serious or imminent threat or to prevent the spread of disease. 

    For employee cases, the University will issue warnings to buildings indicating there has been a positive test result. The identity of the individual with the positive test result will be released “on a need-to-know basis,” as determined by safety needs as necessary to prevent the spread of the disease. 

     

    Can the University require me to stay home if I have a positive COVID-19 test? 

    Yes. The University may require that you stay home until you are no longer infectious according to your health care provider or the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. 

     

    Are there specific rules that apply to research laboratories?

    Yes. Contact the Office of Research and Innovation for more information. 

     

    Do I have to pay to have a COVID-19 test? How does workers' compensation apply? 

    Maybe. Sindecuse will be conducting free COVID-19 testing for all non-temporary employees and students who are symptomatic or who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. If you are asymptomatic and have not been exposed to someone with COVID-19, Sindecuse will cover four no-cost tests for the 2020-21 academic year. See Sindecuse’s website for details. 

    Insurance information will be collected and insurance will be billed. For eligible employees and tests, the University will cover co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. If you think you were exposed to COVID-19 at work, follow the standard University process for evaluating and processing workers’ compensation claims.

     

    For supervisors and managers:

     

    If an employee refuses to wear a face covering, what options do I have? 

    If the employee is refusing to wear a mask because they say they have a condition (medical, disability, etc.) that prevents the employee from wearing a mask, you must work with that employee to find a reasonable accommodation. Do not ask the employee if he or she has a disability that prevents the individual from wearing a mask. Contact the Office of Institutional Equity (IE) for assistance in the interactive process to develop a reasonable accommodation for that employee. Supervisors should not provide informal accommodations without going through the process. All requests for accommodation must go through IE. 

    If the employee is refusing to wear a mask for reasons unrelated to a disability that makes wearing a mask difficult, you may send them home until the employee is willing to comply. Both Michigan Emergency Rules and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention require masks be worn inside. You may require an employee to use personal leave for any time away from work because of refusal to wear a mask. COVID-19 Allowance Leave may not be used for this purpose. If necessary in this situation, an employee may be disciplined for refusing to wear the mask. 

     

    Michigan legislation prohibits retaliation against anyone for not reporting to work if they “display the principal symptoms of COVID-19.” May I require employees to report to work? 

    a. Yes. The executive order applies only to individuals “at particular risk of infecting others.” This order protects those who test positive for COVID-19, display one or more of the principal symptoms or come in close contact with an individual who fits into either of those categories.  Unless an employee is prohibited from reporting to work based on b) or c) below, they must report to work as usual.

    b. An employee who has been exposed to COVID-19 may not return to work until the employee completes a 10-day quarantine period:

    1. Twenty-four hours have passed since the employee’s last day of isolation without fever-reducing medication and an improvement in symptoms; and
    2. Ten days have passed since either the symptoms first appeared or the employee received the positive COVID-19 test result.

    c. An employee who has been in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19 or who displays one or more of the principal symptoms may not return to work until one of the following occurs:

    1. Ten days have passed since the last close contact with the sick or symptomatic individual; or
    2. The individual displaying COVID-19 symptoms receives a negative COVID-19 test.

    d. Employees may be subject to discipline if they display one or more of the principal COVID-19 symptoms, have been exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19 or are exposed to someone who has one or more of the principal symptoms, if they do not get tested after five days, at minimum, of any of the above criteria. Those who are displaying symptoms should get tested as soon as possible.

     

    Is a medical diagnosis that places an employee in a high-risk population a legitimate reason to not report to work? 

    Yes, but they need medical documentation of such a diagnosis. Recognizing that many medical professionals are extremely busy, new approaches may be necessary, such as reliance on local clinics to provide a form, a stamp or an email to certify that an individual does not have the pandemic virus. 

    Once the employee submits evidence of a medical diagnosis that puts that individual in the high-risk population, the supervisor and employee must contact the Office of Institutional Equity (IE) for assistance in the interactive process to develop a reasonable accommodation for that employee. Supervisors should not provide informal accommodations without going through the process. All requests for accommodation must go through IE. 

     

    Is living with someone who is in a high-risk population and being concerned about exposing that person a legitimate reason to not report to work? 

    Maybe. In those cases, if the employee cannot telecommute, such a request should be treated as a request for FMLA, EFMLA or FFCRA. These federal regulations are complex, are assessed on a case-by-case basis and are not easily addressed by FAQs. See HR’s website for handling FMLA, EFMLA or FFCRA requests, or contact HR directly. Presently, on Dec. 31, 2020 EFMLA and FFCRA are set to expire. Look for additional communication if and when new legislation is passed.

     

    Is being 65 years old or older sufficient to justify not reporting to work during the pandemic? 

    No. To be protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act, an individual must have a medical diagnosis or disability. Supervisors may not prohibit someone from coming to work simply because they are 65 years old or older. 

     

    May I request that an employee schedule a telehealth appointment with a Sindecuse Health Center provider if the employee has COVID-19-like symptoms? 

    Yes. A Sindecuse provider must clear the employee to return to work. Encourage the employee to use the resources at Sindecuse. All assessment visits to Sindecuse are free to employees at this time. Using Sindecuse enables the University to effectively contact trace and protect our community. 

    If necessary, employees may be disciplined if they refuse to comply. 

     

    Under what circumstances should employees telework? 

    Until further notice, all supervisors are encouraged to allow employees to telework; however, the decision whether an employee can feasibly perform his or her work remotely is determined by management. If an employee requests telework as an accommodation under the ADA, supervisors must evaluate whether doing so will cause an “undue hardship.” Supervisors and employees should work with Institutional Equity in making this evaluation. 

    The University’s current recommendations may change as the COVID-19 circumstances change. Check this resource for any updates. 

     

    Does sharing information about a positive test case violate HIPAA and confidentiality laws?

    Not during a Public Health Emergency. So long as those who receive the information have a “need to know” and keep that information confidential, covered entities (Sindecuse Health Center, Unified Clinics, Kalamazoo Autism Center and Athletics) may share COVID-related information when necessary. 

    The Michigan Occupational Health and Safety Administration requires that WMU notify the public health department and those who may have come in contact with someone with a known case of COVID-19. Guidance from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services explains that the state of emergency and public health concerns outweigh personal privacy concerns as long as the state of emergency continues. At WMU, only Sindecuse Health Center will make those notifications. Co-workers and supervisors should not do so unless they have consent of the employee whose information is being shared.

    You should not ask questions about family members, but you may ask if the employee has been exposed to “anyone” with COVID-19 or related symptoms. 

    If you know your employee or someone who was in close contact with your employee has tested positive for COVID-19 but your employee has not accurately reported this information on his or her daily screening, you must notify your employee to make a telehealth appointment with Sindecuse Health Center. Contact either the Department of Environmental Health and Safety or Sindecuse for further resources. 

     

    Is disciplinary action an option for an employee who refuses to answer the questionnaire or refuses to have their temperature taken? 

    Yes, as long as COVID-19 remains a pandemic. 

    You may allow an employee to return home. The employee must use leave to account for such time if they cannot telework. 

     

    May I ask someone who does not have symptoms if they have a medical condition that makes them high risk? 

    No. An employee may voluntarily disclose a medical condition. In such a circumstance, the employer may use the information to evaluate whether a reasonable accommodation is necessary. Contact IE for further information. 

     

    Do I need to provide the same, new or different accommodations for employees who already had accommodations? 

    Maybe. Circumstances may have changed, so employees may request a review of any existing accommodation or may request a new accommodation. 

    Only when an employer can demonstrate that a person with a disability poses a direct threat, even after reasonable accommodation, can it lawfully exclude the employee from employment or employment-related activities. 

    You should address these requests as soon as possible; however, the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic may result in delays in discussing requests and in providing accommodation where appropriate. After you and your employee have contacted IE to begin the accommodation review process, supervisors should work with employees to find interim solutions to enable employees to keep working as much as possible. 

     

    Are there documents or cards that employees could have that exempt them from wearing a facemask? 

    No. The Department of Justice has issued a warning noting there are many fraudulent offers for mask exemption documentation. 

    The ADA does not provide a blanket exemption to people with disabilities from complying with mandated safety requirements necessary for safe operations. 

     

    May I inform other employees if a co-worker tests positive for COVID-19? 

    No. Sindecuse will ensure that the University meets its disclosure requirements in a way that protects the privacy of those individuals involved. 

    If you hear that an employee tested positive at a site other than Sindecuse, please inform Sindecuse. 

     

    May I inform my other employees if their co-worker answered yes on a screening question? 

    No. Sindecuse is automatically notified if an employee answers “yes” on a screening question and will take the proper steps to ensure the safety of the University community. 

     

    If an employee has no cellphone or internet access, do they still have to answer the screening questions? 

    Yes. They should either submit their responses in paper format or use the internet when they report at work to complete the questionnaire. If the employee answers “yes” to one of the questions in a hard-copy report, the supervisor should immediately share that information with Sindecuse.

     

    Note: This information is subject to change as state and federal requirements, local public health official guidance and best practices evolve.

Communication

This website is the best place to get the latest information. When substantial updates are made, the University community will be notified via email, delivered to University-provided email addresses, by the Office of Marketing and Strategic Communications or the most appropriate cabinet member.  Other sources of official updates include:

All information in this plan is subject to change.