By: Jackie Huntoon, Provost and Senior VP for Academic Affairs
As you may already be aware, at a press conference today Governor Whitmer announced Executive Order 2020-21, “Stay Home, Stay Safe,” requiring the people of the state of Michigan to stay at home. This order is effective at 12:01 a.m. on March 24 and will continue until at least April 13. The University’s COVID-19 Stay at Home Protocol specifies what this means on campus.
Why a Stay at Home Order is Necessary:
The executive order was issued to suppress the rate of spread of COVID-19 in an attempt to prevent the state’s health care system from being overwhelmed. COVID-19 is easily spread from person to person and the number of cases continues to grow rapidly in Michigan.
Working together to slow the spread of the disease will allow the production of critical test kits, ventilators, and personal protective equipment. We need the supply to catch up with the demand to avoid needless deaths and protect the lives of health care workers.
Leaders in places already hit hard by the virus are consistent in their assertions that others should not wait until the crisis is at hand before taking action.
We are fortunate that no cases have been confirmed in our area so far — but we can’t expect that to last. Our best chance of keeping the number of cases at a manageable level is to follow the executive order and stay at home unless it is absolutely necessary to go out. We all need to ask ourselves before making any trip out of the house whether or not the trip warrants putting our own or others’ health at risk. We are all going to need food and medicine, but most of our regular trips to town or campus can and must wait.
At this point we need to assume we have the disease, and it is our job to make sure we don’t give it to anyone else. The best way to do that is to stay at home and avoid contact with other people.
What this Means for Faculty and Staff:
This means stay at home unless you absolutely must go out.
To comply with the executive order, only essential personnel with written permission to enter a University building will be allowed access. University leaders (vice presidents, dean, chairs, directors, and others) are working now to determine who will be given permission to enter based on health and safety considerations, a need to access equipment used for remote instruction, or involvement with research that requires ongoing human support and attention. No one else will be allowed to enter any University facility (however, students will still be able to access their residence halls).
Letters to those who have been granted access based on recommendation from their chair, dean, or supervisor will receive written documentation of their right to enter from a vice president. Letters from vice presidents will be issued beginning the evening of March 23, 2020. Individuals’ access will be explicitly limited to specific buildings and rooms.
Building access will be restricted starting at 12:01 a.m. on March 24, 2020. After that deadline, special exception requests for access will need to be approved by a vice president. A process for requesting access is being developed and information will be released soon. Special exception requests will only be approved if allowable under the executive order, and access will only be granted for a limited amount of time (for example, one hour).
What this Means for Students:
Students living in the residence halls or in the Houghton area will be allowed to remain. However, students will no longer be able to access any University classroom, laboratory, shop, computer lab, or other facility. After 12:01 a.m. on March 24, University facilities will be open only to serve essential functions.
Updates and Other Information:
As we all continue to navigate the COVID-19 challenge, many questions will emerge. Please continue to submit your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions will be answered individually when possible, and Michigan Tech’s COVID-19 website addresses FAQs. You can also refer to Research FAQs, Grad School FAQs, HR FAQs, and Facilities FAQs.
We are all in an extremely challenging situation and I am impressed by the fortitude, resourcefulness, and optimism exhibited by people across Michigan Tech and throughout our local community. We should all be proud of ourselves. I am honored to be a member of the Huskies family.
Provost and Senior VP for Academic Affairs