NMU Faculty and Staff,

Happy Holidays. I hope each member of the NMU community had a relaxing and fulfilling Thanksgiving, despite the pandemic. I have just a few reminders as we officially close out the fall semester. 

HOLIDAY FUNDS FOR GIVING DAY:  As a way to kick off NMU Day of Giving tomorrow (Tuesday, Dec. 1), the Executive Council and I decided that funds budgeted for our traditional NMU holiday and end-of-semester activities that were suspended this year, about $20,000, will be forwarded to two areas to help students most impacted by the pandemic.  Annual scholarships will receive $10,000, as will the Student Flexibility Fund for addressing unexpected financial burdens. One of the largest of these events is the annual Faculty and Staff Holiday Party. While it is unfortunate that we cannot gather to celebrate as we traditionally do, we’ll plan to have a special event when gathering is again a safe activity. Until then, we know that faculty and staff are concerned about helping our students navigate this unprecedented time and this could help to meet some critical, unmet need.

GIVING DAY ACTIVITIES:  NMU Day of Giving, with a theme of “Let’s Grow Wild,” joins the global giving event tomorrow (Tuesday, Dec. 1). A daylong celebration of activities from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. has been planned to highlight our generous donors and the impact of philanthropic giving on students, faculty and programs. To review the program schedule and register to participate, go here. If you are participating with a gift, thank you.

LIGHTING UP THE HOLIDAYS:  Northern has held the Lighting Up the Holidays event for over 30 years, and although we can’t get together this year to do so in person due to the pandemic, we will hold our tree lighting ceremony virtually tomorrow (Tuesday, Dec. 1). The Lighting Up the Holidays website, which will be live through Dec. 31, has a wide variety of games and activities for the kids – virtual letters to Santa, virtual photos with Santa, DIY ornaments and coloring pages – and a few goodies for the big kids, too.

COMMENCEMENT SUNDAY: A reminder that Northern will hold its virtual commencement celebration at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6.  To view the celebration, go to nmu.edu/commencement. Congratulations to Dr. Kia Richmond, who was selected by the graduates as the Student Choice Award recipient.  As this year’s recipient, Dr. Richmond will give the commencement address.  Ceclia Ruiz was selected as the student commencement speaker.

BUILDING ACCESS AND PHONES: Now that we are working remotely (except for essential personnel), a reminder that doors to most buildings will be locked, but that employees who had ID card access before the switch to remote will still have card access. However, we do not want employees working at the university if they can work at home. Access is being allowed so you can pop in and grab files you need or spend an hour or two in your office to submit grades, but not for you to work as usual in your office if you are not one of the essential personnel. Please be sure that your office and departmental phones are forwarded appropriately for quick response to callers during the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

DASHBOARD ON PAUSE: With fall courses completed, Northern’s COVID-19 dashboard will be put on pause until the winter semester resumes on Jan. 19.

FLU SHOTS: The NMU Health Center is still open and administering flu shots. As the COVID-19 situation worsens, it becomes even more important to not add additional burden to our health care systems and health care providers. Please consider getting a flu shot if you have not already done so. To make an appointment at the NMU Health Center, call 227-2355.  If you get a shot, note it on the Fight the Flu competition site (no personal info collected).

I look forward to celebrating with our 2020 graduates and their families on Sunday, even though it has to be done virtually at this time. I am pleased that we are finding a way to celebrate the holidays with the community, especially the children, despite the current need to not gather. Virtual is not the same as being in a room together, but it is a way to stick together during these challenging times. 

Stay safe,
Fritz Erickson, NMU President

NMU Students, Faculty and Staff,

Today is the start of the final week of the 2020 fall semester, and what a semester it has been. I want to congratulate and thank all those within our campus community who went above and beyond to get us to this point – if you wore your mask (properly) every day in all the right places, if you social distanced, avoided large gatherings, frequently washed your hands, stayed home when you felt unwell or had symptoms, and abided by the frequent state executive order restrictions as they were implemented, especially last week’s order to learn, teach and work remotely by Wednesday if you weren’t already doing so. Thankfully, that conversion went pretty smoothly.

Most of the reminders that follow are for students, but I thought it might be helpful for the faculty and staff to have this information as well, in case you are assisting students as they close out the semester.  Our final week of the fall semester is a short one. To those students taking exams this week, best wishes for a strong finish.

RESIDENCE HALL, DINING INFO: A reminder that Northern Lights Dining will remain open for take-out meals until the residence halls close for the semester break at noon, Sunday, Nov. 29. Rumor has it that there is a big home-style turkey dinner in the works for Thursday for those of you staying over the holiday. Residence hall students leaving for the semester must check out with their resident adviser before departing.  Students with COVID-19 related emergency situations regarding housing, should contact your resident hall director (RD).

ALSO OPEN: The NMU Olson Library will remain open through Tuesday (Nov. 24). Hours today and tomorrow are 7:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.  Also open are: Hedgcock atriums for studying and most offices from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.; the Wildcat Den through Tuesday (Nov. 24) for take-out service from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m., but will be closed for the semester as of Wednesday (Nov. 25); Temaki & Smoothie King, Monday-Friday, 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.; Barnes & Noble-NMU bookstore 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. through Wednesday, closed Thursday and Friday, reopening next Monday (Nov. 30); the NMU Health Center 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. (by appointment only); and the NMU Police Department, 24 X 7.

WITHDRAWAL DEADLINE: The deadline to withdraw from a single course or any combination of courses with a “W” grade is 5 p.m. tomorrow (Tuesday, Nov. 24).  The “W” grade is Northern’s “no credit” option. The “W” on a student’s transcript indicates credits attempted, but no credit given. The “W” grade does not get computed in a student’s grade point average. To withdraw, from a course or courses, students should contact the Student Service Center at 906-227-1221 for processing. To withdraw from all of your fall courses, a student must contact the Dean of Students Office at 906-227-1700.  The withdrawal procedures are available here.

THANKSGIVING CLOSURE:  The University will close most of its facilities to the public and lock the doors on Wednesday, Nov. 25, but NMU faculty and staff will be working remotely. Faculty and staff will not be available on Thursday and Friday (Nov. 26-27) as Northern observes the Thanksgiving holiday.  Business operations resume remotely next Monday (Nov. 30). If you have a need to access an NMU facility that is closed to the public, please contact the NMU Police Department (906-227-2151), which is open 24 X 7.  Faculty and staff, a reminder that your NMU ID card access will continue throughout the closure period of Nov. 25-Jan. 11, except for Dec. 24-28.

DROP OFF LOCATION: The NMU Police Department has coordinated with several departments to serve as a drop-off site now that NMU has gone remote.  Micro Repair is using the site for collecting returned notebook computers or those in need of repair.  The site is also for library materials (after Tuesday), departmental mail, and donations to the NMU Food Pantry.  If anyone has a need to arrange a drop-off or pick-up arrangement, please contact the NMU Police Department at 906-227-2151.

I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving. I know this year’s celebration may not be your traditional event, but it’s important to take the time to be grateful for all that we have despite the pandemic. Wherever and however you celebrate, please do so in the safest possible manner.  I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving. I know this year’s celebration may not be your traditional event, but it’s important to take the time to be grateful for all that we have despite the pandemic. Wherever and however you celebrate, please do so in the safest possible manner.  On behalf of the entire Northern Michigan University community, our thoughts are with any Wildcats suffering with COVID-19, caring for loved ones with the disease, or those who have lost family and friends to the coronavirus.

More information about the winter semester will come in future communications after we finalize details. Congratulations on succeeding in Fall 2020.

NMU Students, Faculty and Staff,
On Nov. 11, I sent an email to students with information the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services officials asked the state's 15  university presidents to share with our respective student bodies. Today, I am resending the section about what individuals -- students, faculty and staff -- should do if traveling, once they reach their destination.

Stay safe,
Fritz Erickson, NMU President

Holiday Safety for Colleges and Universities
Michigan.gov/Coronavirus
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

Recommended actions for returning home for the holidays:

  • For the two weeks after departing campus:
    • Wear masks at all times around anyone you weren’t living with on campus (even around family).
    • Where possible, stay 6 feet apart from everyone, including family, particularly if anyone must remove their mask (such as during meals).
    • Where possible, avoid physical contact with others (for example, avoid hugging elderly relatives or others in high risk groups).
    • Do not attend gatherings outside the home (for example, do not meet up with high school friends in town).
    • Monitor for symptoms twice a day.
    • Test if you become symptomatic at any time, and if possible once at five to 10 days after departing campus.

The full MDHHS recommendations document is available here and on NMU’s Safe on Campus website. For the latest information on Michigan’s response to COVID-19, please visit Michigan.gov/Coronavirus. You may also call the COVID-19 Hotline at 888-535-6136 or email COVID19@michigan.gov.

NMU Students, Faculty and Staff,

A few hours ago, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued a three-week emergency order that lasts through Dec. 8 with a series of directives put in place to try to lower the state’s recent record-setting cases of COVID-19. Included in the order are directives for all Michigan colleges and universities to switch to remote learning and to have all employees who can work remotely do so, effective 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 18.

To accommodate these emergency directives, Northern is taking the following actions:

  1. Northern will switch to remote learning, teaching and working no later than 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 18. Last Friday, we told faculty they could move parts or all of their remaining courses to a remote format. Now they must do so by Wednesday, Nov. 18. We also said last Friday that offices and departments should start transitioning all NMU employees who can work remotely to a remote format. Now, we want that transition completed by Wednesday. Faculty who need to teach remotely from their classroom or lab due to internet and/or equipment reasons can continue to use those facilities through the end of the semester.
     
  2. Northern will close to the public all university facilities, except those listed below, and lock the doors starting Wednesday, Nov. 18.  Unlike last spring, card access to buildings will continue to be operational during the remainder of the semester and throughout the semester break (campus reopening Jan. 11), but employees who can work remotely must do so. On Monday or Tuesday, every NMU office should perform critical university break closure procedures, such as emptying out refrigerators, unplugging electronic devices and turning down thermostats. An email about university break closure procedures will be sent separately to faculty and staff on Monday.

Facilities remaining open to the public:

*Northern Center lower level – Barnes & Noble bookstore, Wildcat Express and Wildcat Den (take-out only, open thru Nov. 29)

*Hedgcock - through Nov. 24

*NMU Health Center – through Nov. 24

*Lydia Olson Library – through Nov. 24

*Temaki & Smoothie King – drive-thru service only

*NMU Police Department – 24 X 7 X 365 days a year

  1. Residence halls will continue to be operational until their original fall semester closure time of noon Sunday, Nov. 29. Students living in the residence halls are welcome to continue their sequestering as a precaution to bringing COVID-19 home to family and friends until any point up to the Nov. 29 closure. Northern had already converted to take-out dining only at Northern Lights Dining as of Saturday (Nov. 14), so the state’s mandate regarding in-house dining just further supports that decision.
     
  2. Student employees who were scheduled to work during the Nov. 15-Dec. 8 period (and beyond), should contact their supervisors for guidance regarding their essential work or remote options.
     
  3. Like was done last spring, the NMU Police Department will set up by Wednesday an area near its office in the Services Building on Sugarloaf Avenue to serve as a drop off area for notebook computers, library returns, residence hall keys, donations for the NMU Pantry and other items. NMU PD is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Luckily, most of our university activities already have a remote option, so the state’s emergency order is not throwing us into a state of complete chaos for the final seven days of fall courses. Still, I know this adds another layer of complexity to the semester’s end.  Flexibility – we said at in August how important it would be throughout the semester in order for us to be able to declare success when we got to the break. It was true in Week 1 and it continues to be true for these final days as well. I thank everyone for your patience and cooperation with all of the moving parts. Don’t let COVID-19 fatigue overtake you. Please remain diligent in following our pandemic protocols. They are as vital today as they’ve ever been.

NMU Students, Faculty and Staff,

As a University community, we should collectively celebrate because, as of Monday, we will be down to seven final class days of the fall semester. We are in the home stretch. I hope you are able to finish the semester strong in whatever your role is at Northern.

To help make that possible Northern is implementing three actions at this time:

  1. We’re asking students to prepare for their semester break travel and upcoming Thanksgiving engagement by sequestering for the remainder of their time on campus. I’ll explain what I mean by sequester below.
     
  2. Per a request from faculty leadership, faculty who have components of their in-person and on-campus modified courses that can be done remotely may make that switch. Faculty with questions should work with their department heads.
     
  3. Northern will accelerate its semester break plan to switch staff to remote work. Starting Wednesday, Nov. 25, NMU will close the majority of its facilities to the public and have those who can work at home do so.

SEQUESTERING: By sequestering, students should stay in their place of residence as much as they can between now and their departure from campus, leaving only for class, work, to get food or for medical appointments, as was advised by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services in its recent guidelines for colleges and universities for holiday preparation. This will help lower the risk of bringing COVID-19 home to family and friends.

WORKING REMOTELY: University offices will remain open between 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday through Tuesday, Nov. 24, the final day of the fall semester. But supervisors and department heads are asked to begin the switch to remote work so that it is fully in place by Wednesday, Nov. 25. Employees who have card access an NMU facility will continue to do so throughout the break. NMU will reopen the campus to the public Monday, Jan. 11. Detailed information about the semester break plan will be emailed to faculty and staff on Monday (Nov. 16).

RE-EVALUATING:  Northern is extending its no visitors on campus mandate, as well as the closures of the PEIF Rec Center and NMU Sports Complex, through the end of the semester (Nov. 24).  The Executive Council will re-evaluate these decisions as it relates to the semester break prior to Monday, Nov. 30.

CONTACT TRACING: Effective contact tracing is one of NMU’s triggers for our COVID-19 response. On Wednesday (Nov. 11), the Marquette County Health Department announced a change in its contact tracing process to address current area case volume. The change may cause longer delays for NMU-related COVID-19 positive cases being contact traced by the MCHD. Northern is working with the MCHD to develop options for the winter semester. For now, the MCHD advises: “If you become aware of a positive test result, are symptomatic, or believe that you have been exposed to COVID-19, take appropriate action and do not wait for the health department to call. If you receive a positive COVID-19 test result, isolate for a minimum of 10 days from the start of your symptom(s) or your positive test date if you didn’t have symptoms. Notify your close contacts that they may have been exposed and encourage them to stay home monitor their symptoms.”

SUCCESSFUL NAVIGATION: Our goal coming into this semester was to offer as much in-person learning and on-campus living and working as we possibly could in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. Getting to the point as successfully as we have feels like a huge victory because throughout most of the semester we’ve had exceptionally low COVID-19 rates. That’s a tribute to the effort by students, faculty and staff to follow our pandemic protocols, to exhibit tremendous patience and flexibility, and to take care of each other. We’ll need that kind of attention to community again next semester, but for now, let’s finish the fall semester strong.

Stay safe,
Fritz Erickson, NMU President

NMU Students,

Michigan’s 15 university presidents met with the Governor, some of her staff, and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services officials yesterday (Nov. 10) to discuss the 5,790 university-affiliated individuals who have become ill with COVID-19. We also discussed the upcoming travel so many Michigan university-attending students will be making as they head to their hometowns near and far for the holiday and semester breaks, and what efforts they can take to mitigate the risk for themselves, their families and friends. We were asked to share planning recommendations below. I ask you to review it and develop your individual plan. We near the end of the fall semester. Your actions this week and next will positively or negatively impact the health of the people with whom you will spend Thanksgiving, the other upcoming holidays, and your semester break. Be proactive in protecting the people you care about.

Stay safe,
Fritz Erickson, NMU President

Holiday Safety for Colleges and Universities
Michigan.gov/Coronavirus
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

Recommended actions for students returning home for the holidays:

  • For the two weeks before leaving campus, self-quarantine away from others (i.e., leave only for class, work, to get food, and medical appointments) and always wear a mask while around others.
     
  • For the two weeks after departing campus:
    • Wear masks at all times around anyone you weren’t living with on campus (even around family).
    • Where possible, stay 6 feet apart from everyone, including family, particularly if anyone must remove their mask (such as during meals).
    • Where possible, avoid physical contact with others (for example, avoid hugging elderly relatives or others in high risk groups).
    • Do not attend gatherings outside the home (for example, do not meet up with high school friends in town).
    • Monitor for symptoms twice a day.
    • Test if you become symptomatic at any time, and if possible once at five to 10 days after departing campus.

The full MDHHS recommendations document is available on NMU’s Safe on Campus website. For the latest information on Michigan’s response to COVID-19, please visit Michigan.gov/Coronavirus. You may also call the COVID-19 Hotline at 888-535-6136 or email COVID19@michigan.gov.

NMU Students, Faculty and Staff,

We received another batch of COVID-19 test results back this week. The good news is that the on-campus student numbers remain relatively low and consistent. The bad news is that we are definitely seeing the community spread reflected in the off-campus student cases, where we have had another measurable increase in positive results. Our numbers aren’t skyrocketing, but they definitely are going up and not down. Please use this information to increase your caution as you interact within the community, in particular wear your masks and social distance when around those who live or spend considerable time off campus. Hopefully, the community cases start to decrease soon.

TEST SPOTS AVAILABLE: Monday (Nov. 9) is our final COVID-19 surveillance testing event. An appointment is required to get tested. No walk-up testing will be done. Open registration is now available to fill remaining testing times. Time slots, which are from noon to 4 p.m. at the Northern Center, are available on a first come, first served basis and get filled during open registration very quickly. Sign up here:  https://apps.nmu.edu/passport.

CLOSING PEIF, FIT ZONE: We are pausing recreational sports activities at the PEIF Rec Center and Wildcat Fit Zone for two weeks, effective as of 11:59 p.m. tonight (Wednesday, Nov. 4), to further mitigate congregating of students, faculty and staff. This pause is for non-academic purposes only and does not pertain to any academic courses held at the PEIF; classes will continue to be held as they have been throughout the semester. The two facilities will tentatively reopen Monday, Nov. 16. We will reevaluate the pause on PEIF Rec Center and Wildcat Fit Zone activities at that time.

TEMAKI/SMOOTHIE KING, FIERAS CLOSED: Due to staffing limitations following a number of close contact quarantines related to positive COVID-19 cases among employees, Northern has closed Fieras and Temaki & Smoothie King until at least Nov. 8.  Both facilities have already undergone deep cleaning and anticipate reopening the week of Nov. 9.

We again remind all NMU student groups, as well as faculty and staff, to eliminate in-person gatherings at this time to the extent that is possible. Events, activities and meetings should be moved to a virtual format. This contributes to lowering the COVID-19 spread to those in the community. It also lowers the risk to our campus population while increasing our chances of being able to complete the fall semester on Nov. 24 without having to switch fully to remote learning, teaching and working.

Stay safe,
Fritz Erickson, NMU President

NMU Students, Faculty and Staff,

Happy Election Day.  I hope everyone on campus who is eligible to cast a vote has done so or will do so before 8 p.m. tonight. As the election process continues to unfold over the next days (weeks, months) I am counting on all of us to be respectful of differing opinions and to be sure that our words and actions reflect our sense of community.

RUMOR NOT TRUE:  I keep getting calls and emails about Northern moving to remote learning on Monday. This is a rumor that is not true – at least it’s not true as of today. Our intent is that we will finish out the entire fall semester exactly as we are proceeding right now. Our COVID-19 cases have increased, but not to the point of dramatically changing our learning/living/working environment.  It is true that we are making sure we’re ready to pivot if cases climb significantly, but our goal is still to make it through Nov. 24 not having switched to a remote format.

FINAL CLINICS: Monday is our final COVID-19 surveillance testing event for this semester. If you received an invitation to be tested, please register for a test time soon. You must have an appointment to participate. If there are unfilled spots, we will send an email Thursday with the registration link. Also, Tuesday (Nov. 10) is our final flu clinic of the semester; no appointment is needed for that. The clinic is noon-4 p.m. at the Northern Center. Most flu shots are covered by insurance and those that are not can be charged to your NMU account. In the “U.P. U’s Fight the Flu” contest, Finlandia leads followed by Northern, Lake Superior State and Michigan Tech.

PLAN FOR WINTER 2021: I’ve been asked about NMU’s plan for next semester. Our intent is to do Winter 2021 as we have this fall. There will be a mandatory mass testing event before the start of classes. We will attempt to have as many in-person courses as we can, but will be prepared with a Plan B “remote learning” option, if it’s needed. We will do surveillance testing. We will continue our pandemic protocols and add/change them as the situation calls for. Plans can change if things get worse, but right now, this is what we are preparing to do for Winter 2021.

HOUSING CONTRACT:  Northern’s residence hall contracts, when signed in August, were for both the fall and winter semesters. If you will be taking classes remotely in the winter semester and do not plan to live on campus, please remember that you must fill out a Housing contract release application for the winter semester.  A committee will review your application and will let you know if you will be released from your contract. If you don’t apply, it will cause issues with billing, refunds and potentially the ability to register for Fall 2021 in March. Contact the Housing and Residence Life office (housing@nmu.edu, 227-2620) if you have questions about this.

DISTANCE LEARNING FEE: The distance learning fee will again be waived for all students for the Winter 2021 semester. This includes Global Campus students. 

DEER HUNTING PLAN: The rifle deer hunting season begins Sunday, Nov. 15, just as NMU heads into its final 10 days of the semester. If you’re a deer hunter who will be joining a group in a hunting camp setting, please develop a plan so that you delay hunting with your group until you’re done being on campus this fall or have a plan where you can continue taking/teaching classes online or working remotely during the Nov. 15-24 hunting period so you won’t have to be on campus after being in the hunting camp setting. If you will be hunting alone or with a partner or two, we are not as concerned that you will bring COVID-19 back to campus, but hunting camps concern us immensely.

WITHDRAWAL PROCESS: In trying to make the “W” grade process clearer in my last update, I added to the confusion. The deadline to withdraw with a “W” grade (no credit) from some or all fall classes is the last day of the semester, Tuesday, Nov. 24.

Wear your mask (properly), wash your hands, social distance, avoid large gatherings and stay home when sick or symptomatic.  You all know the drill and I thank you for continuing to follow the protocols.

Stay safe,
Fritz Erickson, NMU President

NMU Students, Faculty and Staff,

COVID-19 cases in Marquette County are increasing and the community spread is now starting to be reflected in Northern’s positive cases. Fortunately, our on-campus number remains relatively small, which means our residence halls are holding their own against the virus. Unfortunately, a few of our recent positive cases have brought into quarantine large groups of people. Like the start of the fall semester, these numbers are still manageable. But they do serve as a reminder that we must remain as vigilant as ever in our efforts to mitigate COVID-19 spread so that the campus remains as safe as it has been throughout the semester.  

READY TO PIVOT: I’ve been asked if Northern will be forced to switch to remote learning due to the rising positive COVID cases. I think if we continue to be proactive, as we have been with such things as our recent visitor restrictions and surveillance testing, and we’re diligent about maintaining our COVID-19 procedures, we have a good chance to make it to the end of the semester just three weeks away. That said, being ready to pivot quickly if necessary is good strategy in a pandemic and something I know we’re capable of doing if we need to do so. We have started talking to faculty and staff about having their remote option ready to go if needed quickly.

EXTENDING VISITOR RESTRICTIONS: In light of the community spread increasing locally and throughout our surrounding area, Northern is extending its visitor restrictions through the end of the fall semester. This means no visitors on campus unless approved by a division leader and no rentals of NMU facilities by and for external individuals. We will re-evaluate at the end of the semester what, if any, visitor restrictions will be in place over the semester break.

PAUSING LARGE GROUP ACTIVITIES: Speaking of being proactive, NMU is initiating a 2-week pause on large group activities, everything from ROTC training to large student group meetings to the Head Start program at Jacobetti. This includes practices for athletics teams (excluding those competing in November), club sports and intramurals. If you know of any large group activities, please pause them for next 2 weeks as a step to mitigate COVID-19 spread. 

EXTENDED “W” GRADE: The deadline to request a withdrawal “W” grade has been extended to the last day of classes, Nov. 24. A student asked if this pertained to withdrawing from the University.  No, a “W” grade applies to a single course. The W grade counts for hours attempted, but is not included in the computation of one’s GPA. If you’re concerned about a grade in a particular course, you now have until the final day of the semester to decide whether to take the grade you earn (credit) or request a W grade (no credit). Contact the Student Service Center (Hedgcock 2201, 227-1221) before 5 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 24, to request a withdrawal and a W grade.

WINTER PARKING BAN: A reminder that Sunday, Nov. 1, is the start of the City of Marquette’s annual winter parking ban, which makes it a violation to park on a city street between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. until April 1. This enables city plows to be able to clear the streets efficiently. Violations have a fine of $75. 

CITY CLERK OFFICE AT NMU: With the election just days away, don’t forget that NMU has a satellite City Clerk office on campus through Monday, Nov. 2, where you can register to vote and drop off Marquette City absentee ballots. The office is open until 6 p.m. today (Friday, Oct. 30) and 2-8 p.m. Monday. It is located in room 1205 of the Northern Center. I hope everyone in the NMU community who is eligible to vote exercises their right to do so. I also count on the campus to be respectful throughout the election process, reflecting our core value of community.

Let me close by saying that right now Northern’s primary goal is to do all we can to enable students, faculty and staff to finish the semester successfully. Funny that the most powerful things we can do to maintain a healthy campus are relatively easy to do – wash your hands, avoid large gatherings, social distance, wear your mask (properly), and stay home if you feel unwell or have COVID-19 symptoms.  And, please, no Halloween parties.

Stay safe,
Fritz Erickson, NMU President

NMU Students, Faculty and Staff,

Here are five questions I received that I thought would serve as a good update for the start of this week.

What am I supposed to do if I test positive for COVID-19? 
I’m not sure if this question was sent by a student or employee, so I’ll give information for both.  If you are an employee who tests positive for COVID-19, please contact Kimberly Hongisto in the Human Resources Office (227-2330). Kim will walk you through the leave and notification steps. If you are a student who tests positive who has a job on campus, you too should contact HR. You should also contact the Dean of Students Office (dso@nmu.edu) to receive information about contacting your faculty members and continuing your courses remotely.  The DSO also has Spalding Hall information, if needed.

Since NMU put visitor restrictions in place for campus last week (thru Nov. 6), does that mean my wife [and other dependents] can’t come to the flu shot clinic?  (from an employee)

A reminder that there is a flu shot clinic tomorrow (Tuesday, Oct. 27) from noon-4 p.m. at the Northern Center ballroom. Dependents are allowed on campus for the purpose of attending the flu shot clinic. No appointment is necessary. Flu shots are covered by most insurances, but students can also bill their student account, if needed.

Who is winning the U.P. U’s Fight the Flu contest? (from a student)
At the moment, Finlandia is the U.P. university with the highest percentage of its on-campus population reporting having gotten a flu shot.  If you get a flu shot – and you are strongly encouraged to do so – be sure to report it here.  This is for both faculty and staff.  You can see the latest results on that web, too.

Someone said there is trick or treating on campus. Is this true in light of the visitor restrictions? (from a community member)

The Center for Student Enrichment is helping student organizations put on “Trunk or Treat” as a way to provide something fun for the children of Marquette during this pandemic-modified Halloween. Student groups can sign up on The Hub to register to hand out candy from 4-6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31, in the Berry Events Center parking lot.  All of the children will remain in the vehicle and bags of candy will be handed to the vehicle driver.  NMU students who are participating will receive personal protective equipment (PPE) to wear in addition to their masks. Interested student organizations should contact the Center for Student Enrichment (cse@nmu.edu).

Does the CDC’s recent change to the “close contact” definition change NMU’s pandemic procedures at all? (from a student)

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently revised its definition of a close contact, saying that a close contact is someone who was within six feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period starting from two days before illness onset until the time the patient is isolated.  Previously, it was just 15 consecutive minutes. Fortunately for Northern, the NMU Health Center and our medical staff have been using the “cumulative total of 15 minutes” format from Day 1. 

In addition to my regular request that everyone follow NMU’s COVID-19 mitigation procedures (wear you masks, social distance, avoid large gatherings, wash your hands frequently), I want to remind the Northern community how important it is to do the basics when it comes to taking care of ourselves as a way to strengthen our immunity and have more energy during the pandemic. Eat healthy meals, drink water, get plenty of sleep, and take breaks to give your body and mind a few moments of relaxation.  A healthy body can help in the fight against COVID-19, as well as flu and colds. As we head into the final stretch of the semester, please take care of yourself.

Stay safe. Stay well.
Fritz Erickson, NMU President

NMU Students, Faculty and Staff,

Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, stated on national television last Sunday (Oct. 18) that the next 6-12 weeks are going to be “the darkest of the entire pandemic.” I’d like to tell you for certain that the prediction doesn’t apply to NMU, but that would not be wise. While Northern’s COVID-19 cases are relatively low, they are increasing. And, Marquette County’s rates are rising to match other hot spots of the Upper Peninsula. Wisconsin, on our border, is the epicenter of the U.S. pandemic right now. That is why we are imposing a two-week pause for guests on campus, beginning 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 23, through Friday, Nov. 6. The graphs below were provided by the Marquette County Health Department. Please note the red and dark orange.

 

Maps displaying COVID-19 cases in Michigan


· On-campus visits and tours for prospective students, including student-athletes, and their families scheduled for this time period are suspended and will be rescheduled or moved to a virtual format.  To do what we can to mitigate from community to campus, we are putting the following guest restrictions in place, effective 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 23, through Friday, Nov. 6:

· Two Saturday, Oct. 24, events will go on, but with modifications. Make a Difference Day will only include leaf raking for senior residents in the City of Marquette. The Center of Student Enrichment will provide the rakes and bags so there is no contact with the homeowners. The Marching Band’s performance at the Superior Dome will be streamed live for all, including parents who were scheduled to travel to campus. 

· Non-NMU individuals coming onto campus for university business during this period must be approved by the appropriate division leader, this includes anyone who was previously approved. It is strongly recommended that meetings, presentations, and events be rescheduled or moved to a virtual format so we can limit the number of guests on campus over the next two weeks.

· The PEIF is being closed to all non-NMU individuals. Only NMU students, faculty and staff rec members will be able to use the facility during this period. Community and family recreation sports members will receive an extension on their memberships to cover the lost access to services during the restricted period.

· Reserving NMU facilities space for non-university purposes is suspended and reservations cancelled through Nov. 6. This includes space in the Northern Center, Berry Events Center, PEIF, Superior Dome and Jacobetti Complex. Cancellation of space does not include contracted renters, although these areas will need to restrict off-campus clients and visitors as well. Barnes and Noble-NMU and the Wildcat Den will remain open to NMU students, faculty and staff.

· The Superior Dome community walking program will not begin as it was scheduled to do during this time period.

· On-campus job interviews scheduled for this time period should be moved to a virtual format or rescheduled.

These restrictions will be reevaluated at the end of the month based on what’s happening with the COVID-19 rates in Marquette and the region. Now is when we must be exceptionally diligent in our efforts to keep COVID-19 at bay. We are in Week 10 with a goal to not have to switch to remote learning this semester. You know what that means: wear your mask (properly) indoors and outdoors when you’re near people, social distance and avoid large gatherings, wash your hands frequently, limit your travel, and stay home when you do not feel well or are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms.  Nov. 24, the last day of classes, is 5 weeks -- just 34 days -- away.

Stay safe,
Fritz Erickson, NMU President

NMU Students, Faculty and Staff,

Today, I want to remind the campus community about resources Northern makes available to help with mental wellness.  As I meet with various groups, I’m hearing of individuals feeling tired and overwhelmed, some to the point of anxiousness and depression. These are very real emotions resulting from this pandemic. There is also stress some students feel from adjusting to new learning formats and the stress faculty and staff are feeling from having to modify so much of our teaching and services to students and others. There are health fears, financial issues, childcare dilemmas, time management pressures and more. The messages I want to relay today are these:

  • If this COVID-19 modified semester has you feeling off balance one way or another, you are not alone. I think most of us are feeling that way at this point.
     
  • Now is the time to exercise our sense of compassion for others. Let’s all of us try to give others in our university community a kind word, the benefit of the doubt, and a little extra understanding and care.
     
  • There are resources to help if what you need is more than a peaceful walk among the autumn colors or a strong workout at the PEIF to help you navigate pandemic pressures. Below are some. More are listed in the “Additional Resources” box on MyNMU, found on the respective Student/Employee home pages.

Resources for All –

  • Therapy Assistance Online: TAO is an online library of engaging, interactive programs. Check out the TAO learning modules here.
     
  • Dial HELP:  This U.P. crisis helpline has free and confidential help from professional counselors who can connect you to resources and provide support. Text 906-356-3337 or call 906-482-4357.  An online chat is available at www.dialhelp.org.
     
  • The NMU Health Center and NMU Counseling and Consultation Services can assist with referral to the board certified psychiatrist via a new telemedicine agreement, for those under their care. You can learn more by contacting the Health Center (906-227-2355) or CCS (227-2980).

Resources for Students –

  • NMU Counseling and Consultation Services: CCS is offering distance counseling via one-on-one video conferencing to students this year. Go to the CCS website to learn more about how to set up an appointment or call 906-227-2980.
     
  • After-Hours Crisis Counseling: NMU has partnered with Health Advocate this year to offer students online crisis counseling services outside of traditional business hours. The service is free and available between the hours of 5 p.m. and 8 a.m. and on the weekends. Call 855-384-1800 to speak directly to a licensed counselor. Go here for more information on this service.

Resources for Employees –

  • Employee Assistance Program: NMU partners with NorthStar Employee Assistance Program to provide EAP services.  Employees may use NorthStar to help manage issues that could adversely impact their personal and work lives.  Learn more at www.northstareap.com or call 906-225-3145.  

The pandemic won’t go on forever, but it sometimes feels that way. Don’t forget that we are in this together. If you need some extra mental well-being support, please seek it out. That’s why we offer these services. 

Stay safe,
Fritz Erickson, NMU President

NMU Students, Faculty and Staff,

REGISTER FOR SURVEILLANCE TESTING MONDAY: Registration is now open for the general NMU population for any unfilled times for Monday's (Oct. 12) COVID-19 surveillance testing. Time slots, which are from noon to 4 p.m. at the Northern Center, are available on a first come, first served basis until all 300 spots are filled. Sign up here:  https://apps.nmu.edu/passport.  Please note the following:

  • This is not mandatory testing. Participation helps Northern track the level of COVID-19 on campus.
  • There is no cost to you.
  • Insurance is not required.
  • Results will be sent via cell phone text or email (if no phone with text is available), typically within 48 hours.

Individuals who have had a positive COVID case in the past 3 months should not participate as testing may remain positive for 3 months post infection. The testing site in is one of the Northern Center ballrooms. The testing process is the same as what was used at the start of the fall semester and takes about 15 minutes from the time you walk into the building until you walk out. 

GIVE US THE STUDENT PULSE: Undergraduate students, we’d like you to tell us about your experiences so far this semester. If you haven’t done so already, please complete the 3-minute NSSE Undergraduate Pulse Survey that was sent to you earlier this week and let us know about topics such as your courses, interactions and engagements around campus, experiences with support services, and your safety and security.  Click here for the survey. Your responses are completely confidential and data will only be shared in aggregate. This is part of a national survey.

INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ DAY: You’re invited to our Indigenous Peoples’ Day Celebration Monday, Oct. 12, being hosted by the Native American Student Association. There will be an opening ceremony from 10-11 a.m. in the Academic Mall. The event will be streamed live for those who can’t attend in person. An evening session featuring keynote speaker Frank Ettawageshik, executive director of the United Tribes of Michigan, will be held from 6-9 p.m. on Zoom. A panel discussion will follow with a closing musical celebration by Anishinaabeg music group Waawiyeyaa.  In the case of inclement weather, the opening ceremony will be held via Zoom.  

FLU SHOTS:  The NMU Health Center will hold the first of three campus flu clinics from noon-4 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 13, at the Northern Center. Temperature and symptom checks will be performed prior to flu shot administration. Do not attend if you are symptomatic. Please make every attempt to receive the flu shot during one of the three clinics – the others being Oct. 27 and Nov. 10, from noon – 4 p.m. at the Northern Center. For more information, go to nmu.edu/healthcenter

FLU VACCINATION CONTEST – In an effort to further protect our campus communities throughout the region, NMU’s Center for Rural Health is bringing universities throughout the U.P. together to “Fight the Flu”. Students, staff and faculty from Finlandia, Lake Superior State, Michigan Tech and NMU are competing to see which school can get the highest percentage of its total population vaccinated against the flu. In addition to upcoming scheduled flu shot clinics on campus, the vaccine is also available locally at the health department, outpatient clinics, community flu shot clinics and pharmacies. To learn when on-campus flu shot clinics are available and to compete, visit: nmu.edu/fight-the-flu and self-report once you have received your seasonal flu vaccine. For more information and key facts about the flu vaccine, visit: cdc.gov/flu/prevent/keyfacts.htm.

Heading for Week 9. Keep up the good work. Wear your mask and wear it properly (over the nose and mouth), social distance indoors and outdoors when you are around other individuals, avoid large gatherings, wash your hands and use hand sanitizer, and stay home when you feel ill or have COVID-19 symptoms.

Enjoy the amazing autumn colors,
Fritz Erickson, NMU President

NMU Students, Faculty and Staff,

CONGRATULATIONS – We are at the halfway point of the semester. Thank you for what you’ve done to help get us here. With the rising positive cases in the Upper Peninsula, it is even more important to be diligent in our actions to mitigate the COVID-19 spread.  Our accomplishment to get to this point, compared to so many other universities, is impressive. We don’t want that to change.

CONTINUING COMPLIANCE IS CRITICAL – But let me take a moment to clear up whatever confusion anyone has about the last Friday’s Michigan Supreme Court decision and the Governor’s executive order – neither is changing anything on campus regarding our efforts to stop COVID-19 spread. The pandemic procedures we put in place since March have ALL been tied to the Centers for Disease, Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations. This includes wearing masks (properly), social distancing, room capacities, and travel restrictions – NONE of these things are changing.

And let me be crystal clear about compliance to these pandemic procedures: compliance with these are a condition of employment for faculty and staff, a condition of being a student at NMU in 2020-21 and non-compliance violates the Student Code, and compliance is a condition of being allowed to be on our campus as a visitor.  There is no gray territory here; it is black and white. You must comply with NMU’s pandemic procedures.

TIGHTENING SEVERAL PANDEMIC PROCEDURES --  In fact, in light of the rising positive cases in the U.P. right now and knowing that some people in the community may now relax their mask wearing and social distancing, Northern is actually making additional changes, in conjunction with advice from the Marquette County Health Department, that tighten up some of our COVID-19 mitigation efforts:

  • TRAVEL SAFEGUARDS: NMU is revising the current university-funded travel restrictions. Our pandemic procedure is there should be no university-funded travel that is not essential. Any essential travel beyond Marquette County (a change from before when we said beyond Region 8 – the Upper Peninsula) must get approval from the division leader.  A safety plan for testing and quarantining may be required.

    Northern does not recommend personal travel by students or employees outside of Marquette County (formerly outside of Region 8) at this time and any individual who travels outside of Marquette County must be prepared to be tested and/or quarantined/isolated, if the University deems it necessary as a way to protect the campus community.  
     
  • VISITORS TO CAMPUS: Up to this point, Northern has been requiring University community members to get approval from the appropriate division leader before bringing any visitors to the NMU campus from beyond Region 8 – the U.P. That approval now must be in place for anyone being brought to campus from outside Marquette County.  The NMU Emergency Logistics Team will be working with the areas that  oversee campus visit activities of prospective students and family members to see if any changes and modifications are needed to their current procedures. We will also be evaluating rentals at the Northern Center, NMU Sports Complex and other university facilities that bring public individuals and groups onto our campus.
     
  • COMMUNITY WALKING PROGRAM: Northern is pushing back the start date of the community walking program at the Superior Dome, which was preparing to resume, until at least Monday, Oct. 19.

Here on campus and in Marquette County we currently have low numbers of infection.  Let’s keep it that way.  Do your part. Wear your mask and wear it properly (over the nose and mouth), social distance indoors and outdoors when you are around other individuals, avoid large gatherings, wash your hands and use hand sanitizer, and stay home when you feel ill or have COVID-19 symptoms.

Be diligent against COVID-19,
Fritz Erickson, NMU President

NMU Students, Faculty and Staff,

There is some confusion regarding the Michigan Supreme Court ruling that came in late Friday afternoon (Oct. 2) regarding Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s authority to continue the state of emergency, when that court decision goes into effect, and what it means for Northern as it pertains to things such as our pandemic procedures regarding mask wearing, social distancing and other measures the University has taken to mitigate COVID-19 on campus.

Nearly all of NMU's actions were put in place so that the University was following the Centers of Disease, Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations. NMU students, faculty, staff and visitors to campus should assume all mitigation measures remain in place as they have been and must be followed in the same manner as we've been doing during the pandemic period.  In the coming days, we will review all of our pandemic procedures to see what, if anything, needs to be changed as it relates to the Michigan Supreme Court’s decision. For now, assume all remains the same.

As always, I remind everyone to remain diligent in our actions to protect our ourselves and our campus and community from COVID-19.  Please do all that you can – wear your mask (properly), social distance, avoid large gatherings, have excellent hand hygiene, and stay away from people (class and work) to the extent you can when you are not feeling well or have COVID-19 symptoms. 

Stay safe,
Fritz Erickson, NMU President

NMU Students, Faculty and Staff,

This afternoon, (Oct. 2), Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order moving the Upper Peninsula back from Phase 5-Containing to Phase 4-Improving, effective 12:01 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 9, in her MI Safe Start Plan.

What does this mean?  For K-12 and the U.P.’s colleges and universities, the EO does not impact or change in-person educational instruction that is currently taking place. 

It does have several other requirements, including regarding remote work, social gatherings and meeting size and mask requirements, that Northern will be receiving more clarification and guidance on and will update the campus on those details when we have them. 

Today, at Northern and in  Marquette County we currently have low numbers of positive COVID-19 cases compared to many U.P. locations.  Let’s keep it that way.  Do your part. Wear your mask and wear it properly (over the nose and mouth), social distance indoors and outdoors when you are around other individuals, avoid large gatherings, wash your hands and use hand sanitizer, and stay home when you feel ill or have COVID-19 symptoms.

Have a relaxing and safe weekend,
Fritz Erickson, NMU President

NMU Students, Faculty and Staff,

I thought the following 6 questions I have recently received might serve as good update material for this week.

Is Northern going to distance learning like Michigan Tech and Finlandia?  (from a student)
No, not at this time. Our number of active COVID-19 cases is low (6) and, while the numbers have risen slightly in Marquette County, they have not spiked to the level of other U.P. counties.  Of course, like MTU and Finlandia, Northern is prepared to switch direction quickly if cases rise significantly on campus or in Marquette County.

When will the results from the surveillance tests be known? (from a staff member)
We received the results this morning (Wednesday, Sept. 30) and all of the results received were negative. This is great news.  Our overall surveillance test results now stand at 2 positives for the 370 completed tests, which includes last week’s NCAA-required surveillance testing of a portion of student-athletes. We have added a new box to the COVID-19 dashboard on the Safe On Campus website to track the surveillance testing.

When is NMU’s next surveillance testing period? (from a student)
Northern’s next general population surveillance testing will be Monday, Oct. 12. An email invitation to receive the test will be sent to randomly selected students, faculty and staff early next week and those individuals will have a short period of time to register for testing, if they choose to (it’s not mandatory), before the unfilled testing times become open to the campus. There is no cost for the test and no insurance is needed.

Can we do something about students who skip class who aren’t sick? (from a faculty member)

It is critically important that anyone who feels ill or has COVID-19 symptoms stay home for at least 24 hours to see if the symptoms discontinue. However, students taking advantage of the pandemic situation to skip class will likely find themselves in serious academic trouble by the end of the semester. Students who are not in class --whatever the reason -- are still responsible for course assignments and their learning progress. As a student, you don’t want to put yourself in a position where your days off in September become the poor grade you have to live with in December.

Are rumors true that NMU is shutting down the PEIF or Berry Event Center? (from a student)

At this time, no. We have received a few reports of mask non-compliance by some facility users and we are addressing those situations.  However, if PEIF and Berry staff have to frequently deal with people not wearing masks or not wearing them properly, we will have to consider closing the facilities. We understand that it’s difficult to workout and play sports while masked, but it’s a state requirement at this time. Having a mask hanging at your chin does not help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, but it could help to close the PEIF and/or Berry.

It seems like college student parties are increasing in Marquette. Is this true? (from a community member)
Northern’s Police Department and City of Marquette Police have been monitoring the party scene closely since the semester began. There hasn’t been a reported increase in party activity. I’ve done several ride-alongs with NMU PD staff on Thursday/Friday/Saturday nights as they monitor the area for large indoor and outdoor gatherings, including last weekend. The Dean of Students staff also helps to follow up on any reports of students violating the state’s social gathering mandate (a Student Code violation). COVID-19 outbreaks tied to large gatherings could have a drastic impact on Northern’s ability to remain open for face-to-face instruction; I think most students know that.

We’re at Week 7 – almost to the midpoint of the fall semester. I know there was concern whether we’d be able to maintain on-campus learning/teaching, living and working, but we’re holding our own so far. Let’s stay diligent in doing those things that best help the cause – wear your mask (properly), social distance, avoid large gatherings, wash your hands and use hand sanitizer often and don’t touch your face with unclean hands. Doing these very doable things helps you to take care of yourself, those around you, and our campus and U.P communities.

Stay safe,
Fritz Erickson, NMU President

NMU Students, Faculty and Staff,

Happy Homecoming. I hope you have been enjoying the various activities. I’m looking forward to tonight’s (Friday, Sept. 25) “reverse” parade, which takes place from 3-6 p.m. in the Superior Dome parking lots. That’s part of this week’s good news: Northern’s creativity and perseverance on display in our ability to hold a fun and meaningful Homecoming in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. A shout out to the Special Events Committee, Center for Student Enrichment, Alumni Relations Office, Athletics Department and all of the individuals who helping to make this modified Homecoming happen. This week’s bad news is the rising COVID-19 cases in the Upper Peninsula.
 

POSITIVE CASES IN THE UP:  Disturbing news yesterday (Thursday, Sept. 24) that the Upper Peninsula had the most positive COVID-19 cases in a single day (for the second day in a row) with 94.  There were 4 cases in Marquette County with Houghton (27), Delta (18) and Menominee (16) having the highest number of cases.  At Northern, we currently have 13 active cases – 8 off campus and 5 on campus with 10 individuals in Spalding Hall for isolation or quarantine. That’s a little bit of an uptick for us, but not too much of one … yet. I sincerely hope each of you is doing all that you can to help reduce the COVID-19 spread: wearing your masks (properly) everywhere except in your private living space, washing your hands regularly, staying home when you are not feeling well or have COVID-19 symptoms, and avoiding large gatherings. With the increasing numbers in the U.P., there is locally additional focus on watching for and stopping parties and other large indoor or outdoor gatherings by both college students and community members.
 

SURVEILLANCE TESTING RESUMES:  Northern will resume its surveillance testing Monday (Sept. 28), and will test every other Monday throughout the remainder of the fall semester (excluding Monday, Nov. 23). We are using the same short swab nasal test that we did at the start of the semester and are sending the samples to an external lab for analysis. Students, faculty and staff are being randomly selected to receive the invitation to take the COVID-19 test. Any unfilled testing times from that group will be available to anyone in the campus community who is interested in being tested; an email will be sent campus-wide when open registration becomes available. NMU is covering the cost of the tests; there is no expense to students, faculty and staff, nor is insurance required. The tests are not mandatory, but we strongly encourage you to get tested, if selected and your schedule permits, as it helps NMU understand the COVID-19 prevalence on campus. This is especially important as positive cases in the U.P. community rise.
 

STATE APPROPRIATIONS: This week, we have learned that Michigan’s 15 public universities will receive state appropriation funding that is pretty much flat to last year’s rate. The House and Senate have agreed to a higher education appropriations conference bill, which is part of the Fiscal Year 2021 appropriations bill headed to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s desk for signing next week. This is good news because the funding picture for higher education and the state overall a few months ago was predicted to be much, much more bleak. There are still a lot of questions about how the large deficit for next year, fiscal year 2022, will be addressed, but for the moment, we can release a big sigh of relief at this year’s funding and thank the State of Michigan for its support of K-12 and higher education during this challenging time.
 

VOTER REGISTRATION: ASNMU is doing a great job spearheading Northern’s efforts in providing pertinent voter registration and absentee voting to students. I hope every NMU community member takes the opportunity to exercise their right to vote this November. If you need help with voter registration, absentee voting, or learning about Michigan election rules and Marquette polling locations, contact ASNMU at asnmu@nmu.edu or 227-2452. 
 

Wherever you go and whatever you do in the upcoming days, please remain vigilant about doing all you can to protect yourself, those around you, and our NMU and U.P. communities. We each have enormous power to help or hurt the COVID-19 situation here by our actions.
 

Stay safe,
Fritz Erickson, NMU President

NMU Students, Faculty and Staff,

There are several items to update the campus community about today, including decisions from yesterday’s special NMU Board of Trustees meeting, which you can  read more about in Northern Today.

WINTER SCHEDULE:  The Board of Trustees approved the recommendation to revise the winter 2021 semester academic calendar, delaying the start by one week to Tuesday, Jan. 19. That Monday (Jan. 18) is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. There will be no spring break and the semester will end on Saturday, May 1, as originally scheduled. I know students, in particular, look forward to spring break, but canceling it will reduce the potential for COVID-19 virus transmission from travel between campus and other destinations. I want to thank the members of the Ad Hoc Calendar committee for their work regarding this matter. 

COMMENCEMENTS: The Board also approved a recommendation from the Commencement Committee to hold a virtual graduation recognition ceremony since an in-person event will not be possible by late November due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The date of the event is being finalized, but is tentatively set for Nov. 28. Details will be sent later in October to those graduating. While I know an in-person commencement is not possible, I really feel for our graduates who won’t have the opportunity to gather on campus with family, friends, and their NMU family members to celebrate. We will make the decision about the format of the May commencement in February.

TESTING CHALLENGES: The Clinical Science Department ran its pilot surveillance testing this week as scheduled and found some inconsistencies between one point of analysis and another. We are pausing the plan to begin full-group testing next week while we have an external vendor evaluate the initial results. We are doing this to provide confidence to the campus community that any future results are accurate and reliable. The testing seems to indicate so far that our mask wearing and social distancing is reducing spread of the virus and keeping any positive cases more mild in its impact to the infected person. We are also monitoring a national trend in delayed delivery of COVID-19 testing materials. In fact, we are in a lengthy back order for testing kits for our Health Center equipment. As such, the Health Center is limiting its testing to symptomatic individuals and those meeting CDC and Marquette County Health Department testing protocols at this time. Contact your personal health care provider or the NMU Health Center (227-2355) if you have symptoms or are concerned about possible COVID-19 exposure. Information about local external testing sites is available through the Health Center for those who are not symptomatic but desire testing.

STUDENT FUNDING: Now that the 10th day of the fall semester (Northern’s official census date) has passed, eligible students are receiving the Emergency Grant of $115. This grant comes from unused portions of the federal CARES Act funding Northern received last spring. When not all of the funding was exhausted by the first round of grants distributed over the summer, Northern decided to provide unused funds to students for any pandemic-related disruptions they had this fall semester. Students did not have to apply for this grant. Distribution has been by direct deposit or mailed check. Students with questions about eligibility can contact NMU Financial Aid (227-2327). Some of the federal eligibility requirements include (but are not limited to) being eligible for federal financial aid and having filled out a FAFSA, not being a Global Campus or international student, and making satisfactory academic progress. 

I hope you get a chance to enjoy our beautiful Upper Peninsula environment this weekend.  Wherever you go and whatever you do, please remain vigilant about mask wearing, social distancing, avoiding large gatherings, frequently washing your hands and not touching your face with unclean hands.  

Stay safe,
Fritz Erickson, NMU President

NMU Students, Faculty and Staff,

Our COVID-19 numbers are still quite low and I want to thank everyone who is doing what they need to do to make that the case – wearing your mask (and wearing it properly), social distancing, avoiding large gatherings, washing your hands regularly, and staying home when you are ill or have COVID-19 symptoms. We’re in Week 5 of the semester; many people never thought we’d make it this far with face-to-face instruction and on-campus living. 

NOT SO EVERYWHERE:  Several Michigan counties with colleges or universities are seeing case spikes, in some situations so high that county health officials are issuing mandates to quarantine students and putting social gathering limits at lower rate than current state mandates. Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services has also added a new report on college/university and K-12 outbreaks to the state’s regularly reported COVID-19 information. We can use these examples as our motivation for continuing to be diligent in our efforts to mitigate the virus – just one party, one non-essential trip to a hot spot, one person ignoring COVID-19 symptoms and coming on campus has the potential to begin the change of course for Northern this semester. 

SURVEILLANCE TESTING BEGINS: As I mentioned last week, Northern is doing a pilot of our surveillance testing this week with full implementation set to begin next week. As we desire to test up to 300 individuals weekly, we should expect our number of positive cases to go up, which is a good thing because it means we are identifying asymptomatic cases and getting those individuals into isolation. However, we don’t want the trend of increasing positive cases to go too high or stay that way too long. Again, watch for the communication from the Clinical Science Department to learn more about how to volunteer for ongoing testing, if you are interested in doing so. Northern’s intercollegiate athletic programs also are following NCAA-prescribed protocol for regularly testing student-athletes that will add to our surveillance efforts.

HEALTH CENTER TESTING: The NMU Health Center is using its new laboratory equipment to do episodic COVID-19 testing each week day morning and processing results by the afternoon for symptomatic individuals and those meeting Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Marquette County Health Department indications. If you do not feel well or have COVID-19 symptoms, call your personal health care provider or the NMU Health Center at 906-227-2355. The cost of the COVID-19 tests at the Health Center is covered by most insurance plans and NMU is covering the cost for students without insurance. 

Can we make it to Nov. 24 and the end of the semester without a serious COVID-19 outbreak? We have 10 weeks to go. Keep up the good work. If you see someone who is not following protocol, ask them nicely to please help the cause. 

Stay safe,
Fritz Erickson, NMU President

NMU Students, Faculty and Staff,

I hope everyone had a fun but safe Labor Day weekend. Here are four updates for this week.

SURVEILLANCE TESTING: Northern will begin its surveillance testing shortly, first with a small pilot group of students. Then the program, which is being run by our Clinical Science Department, will move to fully operational, alternating the testing of 250-300 on-campus students one week with 250-300 off-campus students, faculty and staff the following week throughout the semester. Northern will use a saliva test to detect and mitigate asymptomatic spread of COVID-19. The testing will be collected and performed on campus by qualified and trained faculty and students using appropriate personal protective equipment. Any positive results will be communicated to the NMU Health Center for appropriate follow-up clinical care. Watch for further communication from the Clinical Science Department about how to volunteer to be a candidate for the surveillance testing program.

CLEANING SUPPLIES IN CLASSROOMS: There continues to be questions about cleaning products in classrooms and labs. Faculty and students are not required to wipe down a general-use classroom; these rooms were sprayed with our antimicrobial spray (kills viruses up to two years) and are cleaned early each morning by the NMU custodial staff. However, for individuals who want to disinfect their area of use, they can do so. Each general-use classroom has cleaning products (spray bottle and wipes) at the front of the room. In our largest classrooms, there is a set of cleaning products at the front and back of the room. Cleaning protocols vary for labs; in some, faculty and students may require disinfecting their use areas before or after class. Be sure to check with your faculty before spraying liquid cleaners on sensitive scientific or electronic equipment. The full pandemic cleaning protocol is available on the Safe on Campus website.

MASK UP AFTER EATING: There have also been questions about whether someone in the designated seated dining areas must be masked. While in a designated dining area and actively eating or drinking, you can remove your mask.  As soon as you are done eating or drinking, your mask should be put back on.  Anyone sitting in these areas who is not masked and not eating and/or drinking will be considered in violation of the mask policy. While the designated eating areas give you up to an hour to complete a meal, the hour is not the amount of time you can simply sit indoors without a mask on. If you have completed your meal/drink, mask up. If you need additional time without a mask on, move outdoors if you are finished eating and drinking. 

MASK ENFORCEMENT: We are seeing a slight increase in the reports for non-mask wearing in residence hall hallways and study rooms, and non-socially distanced groups while outdoors on campus. I know that NMU’s campus feels safe, in part, because of all of the safety measures put in place – antimicrobial spraying of surfaces, Plexiglas barriers, room and office reconfigurations, etc.  We have certainly reduced risk of COVID-19, but it is impossible to eliminate the risk. It remains our individual responsibility to wear our masks everywhere on campus except when we are alone or with our “family unit” in our private spaces only. This includes when we are outdoors and within six feet of another person and when you are around protective barriers. We don’t want to have to discipline folks for mask or social distancing violations, but we will continue to do so. Northern takes non-compliance of public health mandates very seriously. 

Overall, we seem to be doing well navigating this pandemic. Thank you for all of the efforts to take care of yourselves, take care of others, and take care of our campus and U.P. communities. Remember if you have any symptoms, no matter how mild, or you do not feel well, please stay home and avoid people. Don’t come to class, work, or events – on campus or off. If your symptoms get better within 24 hours, great.  If not improved after 24 hours, contact a health care official or the NMU Health Center (906-227-2355) for guidance on next steps. 

Stay safe,
Fritz Erickson, NMU President

NMU Students, Faculty and Staff,

I know I already sent you well wishes for a healthy and safe Labor Day and weekend. I did not have plans to write again until next week, but two meetings this morning provided information that made me pause. Because of my promise to the campus to keep you updated regarding our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, I felt I should share these items now, not later. One of the meetings was with Marquette County Health Department officials and the other with staff members from the Governor’s Office.  The concerning messages were these:

  • The state is quite concerned about COVID-19 increases in three Michigan-Wisconsin border counties of the Upper Peninsula: Delta, Iron and Menominee. Please reconsider any travel to and through these counties if it is not absolutely essential. The Governor could change the U.P.’s stage 5 status if increases in these Region 8 areas continue. What impact that would have on Northern is unknown at this time.
     
  • We’ve had recent cases in Marquette County of infected individuals who ignored mild COVID-19 symptoms, and were interacting for days with people throughout Marquette, including campus, and at their places of work. 
    • I cannot stress strongly enough, do not ignore any symptomsEven if symptoms are mild, STAY HOME and avoid people to the extent you can. This means do not come to class, work (on or off campus) or events/activities (on or off campus). If your symptoms are not gone in 24 hours, contact your personal physician or the NMU Health Center at 906-227-2355 to ask about next steps.
       
    • This goes for those of you with allergies. Do not assume your sniffles are allergies this fall. Stay home and if they don’t go away in 24 hours, contact a health care professional for guidance.
      .
    • Faculty and staff, we know you don’t like to disappoint your students and will battle through extraordinary things to provide your class or service, but this fall the best thing you can do for NMU students and Northern is to stay home if you have any symptom, even a mild symptom. Doing so does not mean you cannot teach or work from home in many cases.
       
  • Finally, Marquette County officials are reporting some cases of resistance by infected individuals to assist with the contact tracing process. Please do not be one of these individuals if you become positive for COVID-19 or are contacted by the Health Department about exposure. Successful contact tracing is critical to managing COVID-19 spread throughout our community. The right thing to do, the thing that shows that you really care, is to help health care officials identify those whose possible exposure may warrant further action so they do not spread COVID-19 to others, possibly to someone who is high risk for severe results.

On the bright side, we also discussed these two items:

  • The faculty seating charts are being used in the contact tracing of our most recent positive cases and are working beautifully. They very quickly help health care staff involved in the tracing efforts to identify who needs to be contacted from a classroom perspective. Thank you, faculty, for keeping these up to date.
     
  • Our new COVID-19 testing equipment is operating well, now allowing the NMU Health Center staff to test on site and confirm results in 1-4 hours – a huge improvement from the previous 7-14 day turnaround.

Again, please have a safe holiday weekend. Remember your actions will positively or negatively affect the health of your friends and colleagues, as well as that of the campus and U.P. communities. We are truly all in this together. To stay safe: wear your mask indoors and outdoors when you are within six feet of another person, social distance, avoid large gatherings, keep your circle of contacts small, limit travel, especially to hot spots, wash your hands frequently and don’t touch your face with unclean hands, and cooperate with health care officials when it comes to assisting with contact tracing. None of these things are fun, but all of them are doable. 

Stay smart in the time of COVID,
Fritz Erickson, NMU President

NMU Students, Faculty and Staff,

Three weeks into the fall semester, and we seem to be navigating the current COVID-19 situation well.  I thank everyone for their efforts toward that.  However, the upcoming Labor Day weekend is another huge test for Northern (and every other university hoping to maintain in-person instruction and on-campus living).  While I wish everyone a fun and relaxing holiday weekend, I also need to encourage the campus community to please keep safety in mind. 

While the media is focusing on students’ behavior, here at Northern we know that maintaining a safe environment means the following for all campus members:

· Please consider not traveling but enjoying this holiday here in the Marquette area – or at least try to stay in Region 8 (the Upper Peninsula).

· If you must travel, be strategic about who and how many are in the same vehicle. Everyone you travel with becomes a potential quarantine candidate if someone in the vehicle is positive.

· Please do not attend large gatherings, especially ones that will be indoors, but outdoor events as well. Keeping your circle of contacts small is a wise strategy this fall.

· Wherever you go and whatever you do, wear a mask and social distance if there are people anywhere in the vicinity, even outdoors.  If you are truly alone in the woods, at the shore or at the top of one of our mountains, then enjoy the fresh air without a mask. But if anyone is in the area, please stay covered.

Northern will be coordinating several activities this weekend, and will be strictly monitoring the number of participants, that masks are worn, and that there is social distancing. Students should watch for more information on how to participate in the corn-hole tournament being put on through Housing and Residence Life on Saturday and NMU Day from 2-7 p.m. at Marquette Mountain Sunday. There will be food, DJ music and outdoor activities, including mountain biking, hikes and yard games. There is also an outdoor movie Saturday and Sunday nights at the Shoreline Theater tent behind the Superior Dome.

The 24-hour study lounge, located in Lydia Olson Library this year, will close at midnight Sunday and reopen at 4 p.m. Monday in observance of the holiday weekend. University offices will be closed Monday.

As we always do going into the Labor Day weekend, we want to remind you to enjoy magnificent Lake Superior, but recognize her power, as well.  It does not hurt to acquaint or reacquaint yourself with our Lake Superior water safety points. Doing so could enable you to help someone in trouble one day. And if you’re going into unfamiliar wooded territory to explore, have fun, but make sure someone knows generally where you are headed and when you plan to return. Also, don’t forget to fully charge your phone before you leave, just in case you lose your way. 

I’ve spent the past few days reading about other campuses where their community members continue to engage in activities that are driving their COVID-19 numbers up to the point where I imagine their presidents are discussing whether continued on-campus learning and living is a safe option or not.  We are not seeing much of that behavior here. Thank you for that. Please enjoy the holiday weekend and continue to act in ways that don’t endanger the health of our Northern and U.P. communities.

Stay safe,
Fritz Erickson, NMU President

NMU Students, Faculty and Staff,

Just a quick note to say, “Welcome back to the classroom” for students taking and the faculty teaching face-to-face and on-campus modified classes. 

Please remember to wear your masks whenever indoors, except when you are alone in a private office, in a designated private space behind Plexiglas, or in your private on-campus living area.  All other spaces, including inside the classroom, require your mask to be on.  If you forget to bring a mask to campus, there are disposable masks available throughout many of the academic buildings and in academic department offices. 

Also, please remember you must also wear your mask when you are outdoors if you are near other people where 6-feet of social distancing is not possible, per state mandate. This would include in the academic mall during a class change period.

One other quick reminder, please be consistent in walking on the right side of hallways and sidewalks so that there is social distance space created between people moving in opposite directions.  Hand sanitizing stations are located throughout Northern facilities and you are encouraged to use them frequently throughout the day.

I hope everyone has a great first day of on-campus classes.  To those of you taking all online courses, I hope your first week of classes went well last week and continue to go smoothly for you throughout the semester. If you encounter issues, please email NMUPres@nmu.edu.

Stay safe,
Fritz Erickson, NMU President

NMU Students, Faculty and Staff,

Northern will return to face-to-face instruction on Monday, Aug. 24. 

I’m happy to report that the lab we have been using for our COVID-19 test results is processing back at capacity and we will have nearly all of our results back before the start of next week. 

Like all mass testing events, there are a few tests that need to be redone due to the sample not being able to be properly analyzed, but that is a small number. The NMU Health Center is in the process of contacting those individuals for retesting as soon as possible. If you are still waiting on results, they will come via text or email if they are negative and by a phone call from the NMU Health Center if they are positive.

I’m also happy to report that our on-campus prevalence is 0.44%, much lower than the Upper Peninsula rate of 1.26% or the State of Michigan rate at just over 3%.

To keep our COVID-19 rate low we must remain vigilant in doing all that we can to mitigate the spread of the infection. That means doing daily self-monitoring of COVID-19 symptoms and staying home if we have any symptoms or feel ill, wearing our masks, social distancing, avoiding large gatherings, practicing good hand hygiene, and not touching our face with unclean hands.  

If we all commit to doing these things every day, we have a good chance of being able to continue face-to-face for the full semester – that is the goal. Please do everything you can to help us achieve this.

Stay safe,
Fritz Erickson, NMU President

NMU Students, Faculty and Staff,

A few more updates for the campus are below. While not yet offering face-to-face instruction, I hope everyone’s first week of the fall semester is going well. If you have questions, please send them to NMUPres@nmu.edu.

WITHDRAWAL EXTENDED: Northern is extending its 100% withdrawal extension for fall courses until 5 p.m. Monday, Aug. 24, when we plan to be back to face-to-face instruction. It didn’t not seem fair to force students to make choices about courses this week when we are not yet able to deliver on face-to-face instruction, as we had promised. After Monday, the timeline reverts back to the NMU’s regular withdrawal schedule.

UPDATE ON TEST RESULTS: Yesterday was the final day of the mass COVID-19 testing event. Overall we completed 7,697 tests and now have results for 5,500 of them. The lab is catching up. The process for receiving test results is via text and email when your test is negative. If your test is positive, you will be contacted directly by NMU Health Center staff to discuss next steps.

EXPERT ANALYSIS:  Last spring, Northern hired Retired Air Force Col. Dave Adams as an expert adviser for our pandemic planning. Col. Adams, who worked in health security and biodefense for the National Security Council and Department of Homeland Security, visited campus multiple times this summer to meet with our 12 logistics work groups. After the decision to delay face-to-face instruction until Monday, Aug. 24, I spoke with Col. Adams to review our current status. He told me he believed we made the right call given the challenges of getting timely results. On all of the key indicators, he gave "green" (good) assessments, including:   

  • overall assessment of Marquette County positive COVID-19 cases by week (relatively low)
  • local hospital capacity/ventilators/beds/ICU beds for Region 8 (capacity is good)
  • NMU COVID-19 cases: 0.47% of our returned test results and 0.37% of our campus population (reasonably low and well below county, state and region averages); daily positive cases are steady at about 5 per day
  • Isolation/quarantine (less than 40% of capacity on Sunday and still today)
  • Contact tracing (being done quickly by Marquette County Health Department and NMU Health Center)

Col. Adams likes our COVID-19 dashboard and feels our approach is going well. Neither he nor I am aware of any university our size that is testing everyone on campus. He and I discussed that nearly all of NMU’s positive cases have been asymptomatic and, had we not tested, these individuals would be unknowingly spreading the virus. It makes us wonder what will happen to campuses that are testing only those who are symptomatic. 

CHECKING ON PARTIES: I have been impressed with our overall student population and how you are managing. Most of you are staying in small groups, masks are on and you remain largely upbeat. Last Friday (Aug. 14), I travelled with NMU Police Chief Mike Bath in search of house parties where we planned to help remind students to keep gatherings small. We only found one gathering of about 20 students where I had to encourage appropriate behavior. We also checked beaches and bars, but found student in both places social distancing. However, some gatherings that took place on Saturday are being followed up on by the Dean of Students Office.  

ISOLATION/QUARANTINE: I held a Zoom meeting with all of the students in Isolation/quarantine last Friday to make sure they have what they need. As a group, their spirts were relatively high. The hot meals were most appreciated. We did have a bit of a challenge keeping friends away from windows, but have put up signs and ropes that would allow visitors to stand outside of a friend’s window 20 to 30 feet away.

The NMU Executive Council is meeting to review cases and discuss issues each morning and sometimes in the evening as events dictate. Pandemics are complicated, but overall the campus is doing a great job of staying nimble.

Thank you for your efforts to keep NMU safe.
Fritz Erickson, NMU President

NMU Students, Faculty and Staff,

Below is some important information from the Marquette County Health Department (MCHD), as well as some updates related to our decision to delay the fall semester by a day and use remote learning for four days.

POSSIBLE EXPOSURE SITES: The MCHD has become aware through contact tracing efforts, that there has been two potential public exposure sites on the Northern Michigan University campus: the NMU Golf Course and the Barnes and Noble-NMU Bookstore. The MCHD is recommending that anyone who visited these places during the times listed below monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 and contact a medical provider should you become symptomatic.

NMU Golf Course

  • August 6 – After 2 p.m.
  • August 7 – Before 3 p.m.
  • August 9 – Between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Barnes and Noble-NMU Bookstore

  • August 12 – Before 4 p.m.
  • August 13 – Between 11:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.
  • August 14 – Before 3 p.m.

TEMAKI CLOSES:  Due to a positive COVID-19 test result of an individual at Temaki and Smoothie King, the restaurant will close until Aug. 31 to allow potentially exposed staff to quarantine and to do a deep cleaning of the establishment. The positive result does not impact customers as Temaki/Smoothie King has only been serving take-out meals with no in-house dining.

OTHER DINING SERVICES:  Here is the status of Northern’s other food establishments. Students are encouraged to use the GET app to customize their food ordering experience.

  • Northern Lights Dining and the Wildcat Den will delay the start of in-house seating and continue with take-out service until Monday, Aug. 24, or when NMU resumes face-to-face instruction.
  •  Fieras will remain closed until the University is holding classes on campus.
  • Starbucks has been operational and will remain open.

FALL FEST: Northern’s annual Fall Fest, which was scheduled to take place Monday and Tuesday (Aug. 17-18), has been rescheduled to next Monday and Tuesday (Aug. 24-25) due to the change to remote learning for the first week of the semester.  Fall Fest has been modified this year with student organizations being featured the first day and businesses and non-profit organizations the second day; tables on one side of the sidewalk with traffic moving in only one direction; and with participants receiving guidelines about how to keep the event safe.

FINAL TESTING DAY:  Monday, Aug. 17, is the final day of Northern’s Passport to Campus COVID-19 testing. If you are a students, faculty or staff member who is taking Fall 2020 classes and will physically be on campus or live in Marquette during the semester you are required to get tested unless you have contacted the University about an exemption. To sign up for a Monday testing time, go to www.nmu.edu/passport.  The tests are being conducted at the Northern Center from 8 a.m. until 3:30 p.m.  You can review our latest COVID-19 test results on the dashboard on the Safe on Campus website.

It has been great to have so many of you back on campus. Best wishes to a successful semester – despite the pandemic. Remember, if we take care of ourselves and each other by doing daily self-monitoring for symptoms, staying home when we feel ill, wearing our face masks, social distancing, avoiding large crowds, and practicing good hand hygiene, we will take care of our NMU and U.P. communities.

Be safe,
Fritz Erickson, NMU President

NMU Students, Faculty and Staff,

Based on unanticipated delays in receiving COVID-19 test results and on this morning’s recommendation from the Marquette County Health Department, Northern will delay the start of the fall semester by a day, Monday (Aug. 17) , and will begin fall classes with remote instruction for the first four days of classes  (August 18-21). Students with face-to-face courses will receive details on Monday that provides the information on how to access your classes remotely.

Members of our Logistics Team meet with the Marquette County Health Department each morning. This morning, we discussed with MCHD officials the pace of COVID-19 test results coming back from the lab we are using in Chicago and received a new recommendation that Northern use remote instruction for the start of fall classes until the majority of results have been returned.

Northern is conducting about 7,700 COVID-19 tests of students, faculty and staff.  With about 7,300 completed, the University has only received 3,800 results. Test results are published daily on NMU’s COVID-19 dashboard on the Safe on Campus website.

We understand the anxiousness of these times and we recognize that having more of the results back will help to make the start of the semester less stressful for all of us. We apologize for the delay in results.  It is unfortunate that the lab, who we contracted with to return results in 24-48 hours, has not been able to deliver on that time line. Results are coming back more quickly again, but there are still a large number of tests left to process.

The decision to take classes remote for the first week does not change the COVID-19 testing for late arriving students that will take place Monday, Aug. 17, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.  If you still need to be tested, go to www.nmu.edu/passport and select a time.

I want to thank the Marquette County Health Department officials for discussing this situation with us. We appreciate their expertise and thoughtfulness.  Northern will continue to follow the MCHD and CDC recommendations, as we have been since the start of the pandemic.

Please remember as we go through this weekend and the upcoming start of the semester that the actions each of us take in the coming days will directly impact the overall NMU community.  Do the simple things that will have the biggest impact:  wear your mask, social distance, avoid large gatherings, wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face with unclean hands.  These are things we can all do that will help to determine if we can stay with face-to-face instruction once we begin that format.  Be smart this weekend and in the upcoming days.

Be safe,
Fritz Erickson, NMU President

NMU Students,

I’ve had questions and want to clarify that students who are scheduled to be in the classroom on Monday (Aug. 17) should be there, whether or not they have received their test results from their COVID-19 screening. 

GO TO CLASS MONDAY: The lab is sending test results at a good clip once again and is catching up, but we don’t know if all of the results will be back by Monday. I know I wrote in an update in July that I didn’t want anyone to enter an NMU class without having received their results – that was my ideal – but logistically that isn’t possible now. Luckily, the key to being safe regarding COVID-19 is as much about wearing your masks, social distancing (which all of our classrooms do) and practicing good hand hygiene and cleaning protocols. The COVID-19 screening is helping us identify infected, asymptomatic individuals more quickly than if we hadn’t tested at all, but masks, distancing, good hand hygiene and robust cleaning protocols protect us as well.

TESTING REGISTRATION:  Student who have not yet registered for a COVID-19 testing time should do so as soon as possible. Testing continues through Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Northern Center. There is no testing on Sunday due to the fact that the samples cannot be mailed that day.  A limited number of testing slots are available to late arriving students on Monday, Aug. 17. To reserve a Monday time, email SafeOnCampus@nmu.edu. Those who have not tested by 5 p.m. Monday or communicated their campus arrival date to SafeOnCampus@nmu.edu will be in jeopardy of having their classes canceled. Students who have all online courses this fall but who live in Marquette County are required to have the COVID-19 screening.

WRAPPING UP PASSPORT TO CAMPUS:  The Housing and Residence Life Office has started moving the remaining keys from the Northern Center to the front lobbies of each hall. Passport to Campus officially closes at 4 p.m. Saturday and students who arrive after that will need to pick up their parking passes at the NMU Police Department in the Services Building on Sugarloaf and their notebook computers on the first floor of Harden Hall.

NO FACE SHIELDS OR MASKS WITH VALVES: In addition to the more recent guidance related to bandanas and neck gaiters, we have also received more medical guidance on the CDC guidelines related to wearing face shields and masks with exhalation valves or vents in lieu of a fabric mask. Because the CDC does not recommend the use of either in place of a fabric mask given the questionable level of protection, we have determined it is best not to allow the use of face shields unless combined with a face mask, as well as no masks with exhalation valves/vents. We understand that some of you may have medical concerns that make it difficult/impossible to wear a face mask. Those concerns should be discussed with Disability Services.

FALL FEST:  Northern will celebrate Fall Fest from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday, Aug. 17-18, in the Academic Mall.  The set up will be modified this year to meet social distancing requirements. Monday will feature student organizations and Tuesday, area businesses and non-profit organizations. Be sure to join the fun and learn about the many student and community opportunities available to you.

Stay safe,

Fritz Erickson, NMU President

NMU Students, Faculty and Staff,

Welcome to the 2020-21 academic year. Typically on this day – the Wednesday before the first day of fall classes – many of us enjoy the annual tradition of coming together for the Faculty and Staff Fall Convocation.  This year, of course, we’re doing convocation virtually and I hope that, whether you’ve returned to campus or you are preparing for the fall semester at home, you will take a few minutes to view the following messages as we virtually kick off the new academic year.

Provost Kerri Schuiling – Opening remarks

Norma Froelich, NMU Academic Senate – Welcome on behalf of faculty

Emma Drever, ASNMU Student Government – Welcome on behalf of students and introduction of Dr. Erickson

Convocation address, NMU President Fritz Erickson

These videos can also be found on the Convocation 2020 web page.

THREE IMPORTANT UPDATES -- 

NO BANDANAS, NO NECK GAITERS: The Executive Council is modifying the mask requirement to exclude bandanas and neck gaiters as approved face coverings. The use of bandanas and neck gaiters have been called into question in recent research because of their lack of efficiency in preventing spread. Please use your NMU-issued masks or your own fabric masks with multiple layers (unless you’ve received an approved medical exemption).

DASHBOARD: The Safe On Campus website now features a dashboard that will keep the campus community up to date on our latest COVID-19 numbers. 

TEST RESULT DELAY: We are experiencing delay in getting COVID-19 test results back from the laboratory we are using in Chicago. Some tests are coming back in the 2-3 day range we planned on, more are in the 3-4 day range and still some others are taking longer. We have been in direct contact with the lab and they are doing all they can to resume the faster processing. 

Best wishes for a success and safe fall semester.

Fritz Erickson, NMU President

Marquette is a magnificent place to hike, have fun in the water and explore the outdoors with friends. Enjoying our nature, though, can also present challenges. NMU urges you to be aware of these special safety concerns.

Swim and Paddle Safely

  • Swim where there are lifeguards and check the city beach flags for conditions
  • Never swim, or paddle, alone and keep in voice contact with friends on shore
  • Wear or use a flotation device
  • Swim out of a rip current at an angle toward shore; do not fight the current; yell for help
  • Be prepared for quickly changing weather conditions
  • Be especially cautious at Little Presque Isle. This summer, at least 44 people have been rescued from drowning, being stranded at the island, and falling off a cliff. One person died.
  • During high waves, stay away from spots such as Black Rocks— you could be swept away
  • If someone is in trouble, call 911 and access the flotation devices at the beach rescue station
  • See these Lake Superior Safety Tips
  • An alum shares his story

Trails Instead of Tracks

  • Do not ever walk on train tracks or trestles
  • Marquette area tracks are actively used by trains
  • The tracks are private property of mines and railroads, including the Dead River trestle. Trespassers will be arrested. 
  • A fall from the trestle would surely be fatal
  • A freight train needs at least a mile to stop after emergency braking
  • One loaded freight car can weigh 130 tons. Most trains have 100 cars. They cannot swerve.
  • Patrols will be monitoring the trestle area to ensure the safety of all
  • Don’t let a thrill cost you your life and bring great sadness to your family
  • Enjoy our hundreds of miles of trails and shoreline instead

Be Close Friends at a Distance

  • In Michigan, no more than 10 people are allowed to gather socially indoors under Covid-10 executive orders
  • This is also a good rule to follow outdoors
  • Because the virus spreads more quickly with proximity and duration, practice six-foot social distancing and limit the time you spend together and number of different people you hang out with
  • Wear a mask where required and whenever possible to protect yourself and others
  • It’s exciting to be back with old friends and get to know new ones, but being together requires restraint at this time so we can remain on campus

COVID-19 Testing

The lab turnaround for testing results has slowed with the tremendous volume. Please be patient and make smart decisions with your interactions with others. Remember, Mask, Wash and Distance!

Thank you for doing what you can to make this a safe semester.

NMU Students,


As we near the start of the new academic year, I want to emphasize what you’ve heard me say many times: We are in this COVID-19 pandemic together. The actions Northern takes impact you. The actions you take impact Northern and will directly play a role in whether NMU remains open for face-to-face instruction and on-campus living.  As part of the expected student behavior and COVID safety protocols outlined in the Official University Requirement, you are being asked to take care of yourself, others, and the NMU and U.P. communities.

UNDERSTANDING THE RULES: The details of the Official University Requirement provide students with the information you need to know about temporary rules, processes and procedures that are currently not in the Student Code of Conduct. Once you read the Official Requirement, you are asked to sign the NMU Campus Community Compact, which some of you have done during the Passport to Campus event. The expected behaviors of students during this pandemic are:

  • Abide by all State of Michigan Executive Orders.
  • Use a face covering while in all indoor spaces (other than their own private residence) and outdoor spaces where social distancing is not possible.
  • Avoid close contact with, and maintain at least a six-foot “social distance” from, people who are not part of your household whenever possible. Do not be responsible for creating large gatherings.
  • Stay home if you feel sick or have COVID-19 symptoms unrelated to any usual health conditions.
  • Quarantine if exposed to someone with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis as recommended by a health-care provider.  Isolate if diagnosed with a current COVID-19 infection.
  • Abide by Health Department and University Health Center orders to isolate and/or quarantine.   

Not following these procedures during this pandemic violates the Student Code. To be frank, this includes house parties and large gatherings in the woods or on area beaches, like McCarty’s Cove on 4th of July.

ENFORCING MASK VIOLATIONS: I’ve provided the link to the mask exemption document in previous emails. One section I want to highlight is what the faculty have been told to do if someone does not want to comply with the mask requirement. Steps 4-6 of that procedure start with asking the student to leave the class. If they don’t, dismiss the class and contact the Dean of Student Office, or contact NMU Police Department to remove the student and bring them to the Dean of Students Office. If you forget your mask, there will be disposable ones available in the building, but you will need to have on a mask (or approved facial covering).

CLASSES AT CAPACITY: Due to social distancing, every classroom has been measured and prepared to meet the social distancing requirements. Due to this state mandate, faculty members do not have the flexibility this semester to change the cap on their class section. Where in the past they may have squeezed an extra student into the class beyond the cap, this semester they are not permitted to do so. 

GOVERNOR’S EO: In the last newsletter, I mentioned Gov. Whitmer’s statewide mandate to limit indoor gatherings to 10 people. We clarified that this did not include educational settings, which are still covered under a previous executive order. The Governor also signed an EO that allows universities to use large facilities  not usually permitted for classes (ie. Northern Center) to be used for educational purposes during the pandemic. 

CHECK OUT THESE VIDEOS:  At last week’s NMU Board of Trustees meeting, the NMU Logistics work groups gave updates on efforts to prepare the campus. This included a viewing of a Media Meet program. The link to the board meeting is here; the Media Meet program begins at the 51:00 mark. It covers the COVID-19 test (55:30), masks (59:00), antimicrobial spraying (100:00), dining services (1:05) and housing (1:15).  Another video you should check out is this TV report about the drive-in movies and concerts NMU will have at the new Shoreline Theatre behind the Dome.  It’s very cool. I hope you take the chance to check out a show.

Stay safe,
Fritz Erickson, NMU President 

NMU Student,


The NMU Board of Trustees is on campus today (Thursday, July 30) and will hear an extensive update on the work of the NMU Emergency Logistics Team and the 11 work groups at 1 p.m. The meeting will be streamed on You Tube at https://bit.ly/2UeD5Ex if you are interested in watching the presentation. You can watch the program live or at your convenience. 

GOVERNOR’S EO: Yesterday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order amending Michigan’s Safe Start Order to mandate statewide indoor gatherings be limited to 10 people and bars to close their indoor service across the state, including in Regions 6 (Traverse City) and 8 (Upper Peninsula). In her press release, the governor said the state’s COVID-19’s resurgence is “being closely associated with super-spreading events at large social gatherings, often attended by young people.” These changes are effective Friday, July 31. We believe classes are exempt from the indoor maximum, but we’re confirming with the Governor’s office.

FIRST POSITIVE CASE: Northern was notified earlier this week by the Marquette County Health Department of a positive coronavirus test of a student who was living on campus. The notification activated our University protocols concerning the diagnosis, which I’m relieved to tell you worked as designed. Contact tracing was conducted by the Health Department officials. Because of privacy requirements no details can be provided. 

ISOLATION/QUARANTINE: With Northern testing nearly 8,000 people over the next two weeks, we will have more positive cases. We’ve been extremely lucky to have not had a positive case on campus until now. What happens if you have a positive COVID-19 test?  On-campus students who test positive will be isolated in Spalding Hall and those with close exposure will be quarantined there. The difference between isolation and quarantine is that a person in isolation has been diagnosed as positive for COVID-19 while someone who is in quarantine has been identified as having been exposed to COVID-19 but has not yet been diagnosed as being positive for COVID-19. Isolation and quarantine periods can range from 10 to 24 days, although the common period is 14 days. Two healthcare professionals located in Spalding Hall will monitor students placed there. Off-campus students will isolate/quarantine at their place of residence, being monitored by the Health Department. In cases where a student feels OK to do so, they can virtually attend classes while isolated/quarantined.

PASSPORT EVENT: If you haven’t signed up for your Passport to Campus time, please do so at nmu.edu/passport. I’ve been asked several times if off-campus students are supposed to be attending to get the COVID-19 test and the answer is a definitive YES. I’ve also been asked several times lately about student IDs. Incoming freshmen and transfers can submit your online photo for your ID at https://nmu.edu/wec/requesting-your-nmu-photo-id-card-online or have your photo taken at the Passport event. Returning students who need to replace their cards will have the option to use the existing photo in the database or have a new photo taken at the Wildcat ID card station in the Founders Room during your Passport to Campus visit. 

THINGS TO DO: The PEIF Rec Center reopens on Monday, Aug. 3. A recreation pass won’t be required until classes begin on Monday, Aug. 17. The Executive Council has approved Fall Fest and annual poster sale taking place at the start of the semester. The event I’m most excited about is the drive-in movie behind the Superior Dome. More details on that to come.

From the emails I’ve been reading that students are sending to NMUPres@nmu.edu, it is clear that many of you are very excited to return to campus and get back to your classes while others of you are quite anxious about how to stay safe this semester.  I think both emotions are understandable in this unsettled time. To be honest, I’ll be thrilled to have students back at NMU, but I’m also a bit concerned that you take the COVID-19 pandemic seriously and do your part to help mitigate the spread of the infection. We’re all in this together; we all have a responsibility to take care of each other and our campus community. 

Stay safe,
Fritz Erickson, NMU President  

NMU Students,
Today I want to go over more details about the Passport to Campus 2020 event, so you will know what to expect when you arrive at the Northern Center for your assigned time. First, let me remind you that everyone who will be a part of the Northern Michigan University campus community is being asked to participate in this event – all students, faculty and staff. The upcoming year will take a university-wide effort for us to remain on campus. Passport to Campus 2020 event is part of our “Safe on Campus” initiative.

CHOOSING A TIME: Select a time to come to the Passport to Campus 2020 event here.  Once you log in, you will see the open time slots from which to choose. This selection serves as the time for your COVID-19 test time, as well as your residence hall move-in time if you are living on campus. For most, the event is Aug. 8-15.

SPECIAL GROUPS: If you are part of an “early arrival” groups –dining service staff, resident assistants, etc. – you will need to click on your group in order to get access to Passport times before August 8.  Students who are currently living in on-campus apartments are part of the Summer On-Campus group with access to early testing dates. 

I’M HERE: You will be sent a text/email reminder the morning of your selected time. That message includes an “I am here” link for you to use when you arrive at the Northern Center.  A response that tells you to come into the building or to wait will be sent. When it is your turn to check in, you will receive a message to come in. 

TEMPERATURE TAKING: Inside the main door, your temperature will be taken. If below 100 degrees, you will proceed to the right.  If above 100 degrees, you will be asked to sit a bit before being retested. If your temperature does not come down, you will receive your COVID test at a separated test bay right there and a staff member will meet with you to discuss being quarantined until you have your test results. In my next email, I will cover quarantine/isolation procedures. We anticipate most students will have normal temperatures and will move to the Passport stations.

YOUR 2 MASKS: Up first, the Welcome Station is where you will receive your two NMU-provided cloth face masks. The Passport app on your cell phone (or the paper passport we print out for you if you don’t have a smartphone) will be explained to you, including the Student Responsibilities and Safety Protocols and NMU Campus Community Compact you will be asked to sign, which verifies that you understand the special conditions tied to being a Northern student during the current worldwide COVID-19 pandemic (mask wearing, social distancing, etc.). 

COVID-19 TEST: Next, you will be directed to one of the four ballrooms for your COVID test.  In front of each curtained testing bay will be someone who will bar code scan your NMU Wildcat ID or type in your NMU IN. Once your name, address and phone are confirmed as correct, you will go into the testing bay. A health care assistant will hand you a cotton swab that you will insert into your nostril about an inch (this is a shallow nasal test). You will twist the swab three times, then do the same for the other nostril. Then the swab is put in the sample tube and into a sealed bag. That’s it – the COVID-19 test is done in about a minute.

STATIONS: You will proceed down the Northern Center hallway. The next station is where you will pick up your parking pass if you have a motor vehicle you will be parking on campus. Next is the Wildcat Express Center where you will get your student ID card, if needed.  You will move on to Housing and Residence Life station to collect the key to your residence hall room or apartment, if you are living on campus. Down the hall is notebook computer distribution. Lastly, you will head downstairs to Barnes and Noble-NMU Bookstore to pick up your pre-ordered textbooks or you will exit the building if you have not ordered books. That’s it – you are done.

MOVING IN:  If you are living in one of NMU’s residence halls, once you finish at the Northern Center, you will drive to your residence hall.  Welcome Crew members will be at the Northern Center to provide directions as needed.  As you near the halls, you will see pull-up lanes where you, family members and Welcome Crew members will unload your belongings onto wheeled boxes that can be rolled to your room. Again, we strongly encourage you to pack lightly this year, while still remembering to bring clothes and outer apparel for both autumn and winter so you do not have to go home to get clothes for the changing seasons. 

An enormous amount of time and effort has gone into making campus as safe as possible. The ability to have on-campus learning, living and working depends on all of us doing the right things to take care of ourselves, others, and our NMU campus and Upper Peninsula communities. Some very basic actions will determine if we get to stay on campus for the full year: wearing face coverings, social distancing, washing our hands frequently, COVID testing, self-monitoring for symptoms on a daily basis, and staying home when we don’t feel well or have COVID-19 symptoms. We are all capable of doing these things for Northern and for each other.

Up next in my communications: What happens if you have a positive COVID-19 test while at Northern?

Stay safe,
Fritz Erickson, NMU President  

NMU Students, Faculty and Staff,

Today, I want to discuss NMU’s policy requiring use of face coverings while on the Northern Michigan University campus and Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s recent executive order regarding masks.

NMU’s MASK REQUIREMENT:  In March, Northern implemented a face covering requirement for any individual who comes on to the NMU campus as a mitigation measure for controlling the spread of the COVID-19 virus.  A face covering over one’s nose and mouth is required to be worn everywhere on campus except in your private office or living space, when outside and not near any other individuals, or when you are the sole individual in a University vehicle.  This policy is being enforced through the Official University Requirement – NMU Student Code of Conduct (students) and as a condition of employment at NMU (employees). 

GOVERNOR’S MASK EO:  Last Friday (July 10), Gov. Whitmer announced an executive order that made not wearing a face covering a misdemeanor and subject to a $500 fine.  In Michigan, all individuals must now wear a mask while in indoor public areas, outdoors when social distancing is not possible, and outdoors when in a large gatherings.  The EO also requires businesses and organizations to deny service to individuals who are without a face covering or risk losing their business license.  Northern will also deny service for anyone without a face covering.

 

PROVIDING MASKS: Northern ordered 20,000 cloth masks and is providing two to each student and employee at the start of the semester. Students and employees are not required to wear the NMU face covering; if you have other face coverings that you find more comfortable, you are welcome to wear those. The University will also provide disposable masks throughout campus for those times when someone forgets their face covering. 

MEDICAL EXEMPTIONS: Medical exemptions are available to those who can’t wear cloth masks due to health issues. Students should contact Disability Services (227-1737, disserv@nmu.edu) and employees, Human Resources (227-2330, hr@nmu.edu) to learn what documentation is necessary. Medical exemptions do not mean that you will be on campus without a face covering, but rather that you will be offered an alternative accommodation.  

RESOURCES: Here are two videos from the World Health Organization (WHO) and an infographic that provide information on how to properly put on, take off and take care of your face mask.

  • CDC: How to safely wear and take off a cloth face covering -- infographic
  • How to wear a fabric mask safely – video and infographic
  • Mask Wearing 101: How to Properly Use and Re-use a Mask - video

As a university, we collectively state that caring for our community – on and off campus – is one of our seven core values. While I know wearing a face covering is not always the most comfortable situation, this is one of the sacrifices we must make this semester to keep our campus healthy. 

Stay safe,

Fritz Erickson, NMU President  

NMU Students, Faculty and Staff,

I hope you had a fun, but safe, 4th of July holiday weekend. We are nearing one month until the start of the fall classes.  Here are two more updates on preparations for the upcoming semester.

COURSE CATEGORIES:  For Fall 2020 the following categories of classes will be offered at NMU --

  • Face-to-Face – these are courses that will meet entirely face to face. These courses must be scheduled for classrooms where there is sufficient room for the entire class to meet with proper social distance. Most classes that were originally scheduled to be 20 students or less are likely being held face-to-face with the entire class meeting at the same time, but very likely in a different (larger) classroom.
  • Modified on-campus – these are courses that will meet on campus and have a face-to-face component.  The face-to -face component may include a subset of the class at any one time.  For instance, part of the class may meet Mondays and Wednesday in the classroom and Tuesday and Thursday by remote learning while the other part has the opposite schedule. Face-to-face components may also include a laboratory or discussion session, practicum or other in-person activity as determined by the instructor.
  • Online – these are traditional web-based courses that will meet entirely online and will not have any face-to-face interaction. Many of Northern’s largest courses have been put online due to social distance requirements that could not be met with the classrooms on campus.

We estimate that about 85% of NMU’s fall classes will have face-to-face components, either being fully face-to-face or modified on-campus. Faculty will be contacting students to inform them of which format they will use for their courses.

PHYSICAL BARRIERS:  Classrooms are being physically modified to meet social distancing mandates. There are several types of plexiglass barriers that are being installed around campus.  There are classroom desk barriers, plexiglass between rows of theater-style seating, and transaction barriers, which include a slot at the bottom where paper and other materials can be passed between individuals on each side.  Other types include larger plexiglass room dividers, such as what you’ll see dividing Northern Lights Dining into sections, and plexiglass barriers on classroom lecterns. Thank you to Northern’s trades professionals who have spent the summer building the plexiglass barriers for campus. If you’d like to see photos of some of the plexiglass barriers, click here.

More updates to come next week.

Stay safe,
Fritz Erickson, NMU President 

NMU Students,

As we get set to move into July, I feel more comfortable that decisions we have been making for the fall semester are less likely to see change between now and the start of classes on Aug. 17. With that being the case, I plan to start sending more frequent emails to update you on the details of our plans. Here are a few quick update items, including more details about the NMU Board of Trustees setting tuition and fee rates for the upcoming year.

TUITION SET BY BOARD: The NMU Board of Trustees met Monday and Tuesday (June 29-30) and set tuition and fee rates for 2020-21, increasing tuition 3.71%, or $215 per semester, for resident undergraduates. The increase is also 3.71% for non-resident undergraduates. The board also approved two grants – the $100 COVID-19 grant funded through institutional financial aid and the $115 CARES Act-II emergency grant funding through federal stimulus monies NMU received – which if both are applied to tuition will give many of you a net zero increase for fall. NMU also is waiving the distance education fee for all online/distance courses again this semester, which also lowers what students will pay. This is especially true for Global Campus students, who are not eligible to receive CARES Act funding per U.S. Department of Education requirements. Even with the rate increase, Northern remains the second most affordable tuition and fee rate in the state. To read about the board’s decision, click here

The COVID-19 grant will be applied directly to your billing statement, which will be posted to student accounts during the week of July 13 and sent on July 17. The CARES Act-II grant, per U.S. Department of Education requirements, cannot be applied to a billing statement but must be distributed directly to students, so you will receive that as a check. It will be your decision whether to apply the credit to your outstanding balance. The due date for fall tuition and fees payment is Aug. 7. You can learn more about NMU’s payment plan options at nmu.edu/paymentplans. To see all of NMU’s tuition and fee rates, go to nmu.edu/tuition.

TESTING: NMU will test, faculty and staff for COVID-19 in the Northern Center from Aug. 3-15. The test, which is a SHALLOW nasal swab (not the kind that goes all the way down one’s nasal cavity), takes just a few minutes. The link where you can sign up for a testing time will be emailed to students in mid-July. Those of you living in the residence hall will sign up for a move-in time, which becomes your COVID-19 testing time since the test must be taken prior to you receiving your residence hall or campus apartment key. The results for the test take about three days to get and no student should enter an NMU classroom without having received their results, so please work that into your travel timeline. I’ll talk about what happens if you test positive for COVID-19 or if you arrive too late to complete the test in time for results before classes begin in an upcoming email.

RESIDENCE HALL MOVE-IN: The move-in period for the residence halls is August 8-16. You will be required to sign up for a move-in time and only five residence hall students per house will be allowed to move in over designated three-hour windows to help us manage proper social distancing in the halls. Your parents and others who travel with you for move in will not be allowed into the living areas of the residence halls, although they can enter public areas of the facilities such as lobbies and the Lodge. Unfortunately, they will not be permitted to assist you with moving your belongings into your room. The NMU Welcome Crew will be on hand to assist you with that. More detailed information regarding move-in will be communicated next week.

STUDENT ACTIVITIES:  The Student Activities logistics work group’s recommendation on which student activities to hold as usual, which to modify and which to cancel was approved by the Executive Council. The list can be found here. The group did a great job of finding ways to modify events to meet state gathering and social distancing mandates so that many events can still be held. The group is working on a manual for event planners with current university, state and federal mandates and recommendation guidelines.

A reminder that Northern is closed Friday (July 3) in observance of 4th of July.

Have a wonderful but safe holiday weekend,
Fritz Erickson, NMU President 

 

NMU Students,

I wanted you to be aware, if you hadn’t heard already, that yesterday (May 18) the NMU Board of Trustees approved a new start and end date for the fall semester.  Northern has made the decision to start the fall semester a week early, on Monday, Aug. 17, and end the semester just prior to Thanksgiving on Tuesday, Nov. 24. This action eliminates one set of mass exit and return travel to and from campus. 

What else should you know about the change to the fall calendar:

  • BEFORE FALL CLASSES: With the board’s approval of the new start date, we can begin adjusting other dates that are part of the semester start, including check-in days for the residence halls and on-campus apartments. Those dates will be shared in the upcoming weeks as they are finalized.  
  • DURING FALL SEMESTER: The revised schedule breaks down as follows: classes will begin Aug. 17 and continue through Nov. 24, with the exception of Labor Day; commencement is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 21; and final grades will be due from faculty on Monday, Nov. 30. There will be no designated final examination period, which typically is held the final week leading up to commencement. Instructors will have the discretion to schedule exams, as appropriate.
  • LOOKING TO WINTER 2021: At this time, dates for the Winter 2021 semester remain the same, although changes will be considered depending on the COVID-19 situation in the Upper Peninsula at that time.

Northern is working on many initiatives this spring and summer for the purpose of making the return to campus and face-to-face instruction possible in the midst of a historic pandemic. Along with the fall semester calendar changes, there will be other changes announced throughout the summer of actions being taken to make this fall’s Northern experience as engaging but also as safe as possible.

Two quick reminders:

  • Many NMU students who are eligible for the CARES Act grants of up to $700 have not yet applied.  This federal stimulus money can help you recover costs paid during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The deadline to apply is 5 p.m. Monday, May 25 (Memorial Day). To check your eligibility and apply, click here.
  • Northern is open for business, but the physical campus remains closed and most employees are working remotely. This will be the case into July, regardless of when the Governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order is lifted. NMU continues to work on its “return to campus” safety protocols, which will be shared when completed. These include mask requirements, self-monitoring of temperature, and newly created physical barriers. NMU will have on-campus testing and tracing abilities by fall as well.

Finally, I hope you enjoy the Memorial Day weekend. We may not be engaging in many of our traditional Memorial Day activities, but whatever you do, I hope it is fun and spent with people who are important to you.  A reminder that all NMU offices are closed – not only physically but operationally as well – on Monday, reopening Tuesday (May 26). 

Stay safe,
Fritz Erickson, NMU President 

NMU Students, Faculty and Staff,

This morning (Friday, April 24), Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced an extension of her “Stay Home. Stay Safe” executive order through Friday, May 15, expiring Saturday, May 16. This means that Northern will continue to have closed buildings and limited on-campus staff for at least the next three weeks.

Gov. Whitmer included these points in today’s announcement:

  •  Effective 11:59 p.m. Sunday, April 26, the new executive order now mandates that a face covering be worn when a person is in an indoor public space, such as grocery stores. Masks are not required for outdoor activities but are strongly encouraged in the EO.
     
  • The new EO lifts the ban on travel between residences within the state, although the Governor strongly discouraged this travel unless it is essential.  This helps Northern regarding students completing the move-out process from residence halls and on-campus apartments.
     
  • The Governor has begun allowing some specific industries to resume operations and allowing some outdoor activities to resume.

A few additional Northern considerations:

MASKS – Since late March, NMU employees and student employees have been required to wear a face covering during work shifts while on campus. Masks are not required in private offices, teaching labs or vehicles when you are by yourself, but should be worn when you can’t social distance and are around other individuals. If you must be on campus and need a mask, contact the NMU Police Department at 227-2151.
 

STUDENTS MOVING OUT – The move-out deadlines for on-campus housing is 10 p.m. Sunday, May 3, for residence halls and 10 p.m. Sunday, May 10, for campus apartment residents.  Students who need to return to campus to collect belongings can do so now through May 10.  Housing will work with students who can’t meet these deadlines. We have changed our move-out process to address COVID-19 considerations; you can read about that here
 

EMERGENCY GRANT FUNDING: Northern has applied for the federal stimulus funding that can be used to provide emergency grants for eligible students. We have not received the funds yet, but hope to do so soon. When we do, we’ll be sending information to students about who is eligible and how they can apply. 
 

SUPPORTING WILDCATS:  Campus leadership has been informed of more students, faculty and staff who have family members infected with the COVID-19 virus, including some on ventilators. We’ve been able to connect to some of these NMU family members to extend our best wishes and support. To those who are in this situation, please know that we are here for you. Let us know how we can help by sending a note to NMUPres@nmu.edu.  
 

RETURNING TO WORK: Northern’s Emergency Planning Logistics Team is ramping up its work to develop the plans we’ll need for when employees can return to campus. We’ll be sending more details about that after the end of the semester. This group is also working on recommendations regarding decisions that need to be made for late summer activities on campus and looking ahead to the fall semester.  
 

Considering fall, our intent is that Northern will be fully operational and providing face-to-face instruction – that is our goal.  We’ll take safety into consideration, of course, which may necessitate some modifications in how we do things, but we’ll do everything within our power to be ready for a robust on-campus fall semester.
 

I want to thank everyone for your patience, cooperation and flexibility. It’s been quite a second half of a semester; certainly not the semester any of us planned on nor wanted. The good news is we have come together to complete the semester – just one week to go.  I know it hasn’t been easy, but the campus has remained safe and our students, faculty and staff have remained safe. That was the top priority from the start.  Good job, everyone.
 

Be well, 
Fritz Erickson, NMU President 

NMU Students,
Governor Whitmer’s announcement of an executive “Stay at home, stay safe” order yesterday is adding another layer of complexity to the COVID-19 situation, but it is an important action to try to slow down the spread of this highly infectious novel coronavirus. Thus, Northern will do what we have to do on campus to modify operations so that we are complying with the order. Many other states are also under “stay at home” orders.

 

Of course, changes bring questions. I know students have quite a few of them. I’m going to try answer some of the most popular ones that have come into the NMUPres@nmu.edu account. Please use the Frequently Asked Questions section of the COVID-19 website in the days ahead as that is where we will post new information.

 

I did delay sending this communication to students until today (Tuesday, March 24) so that I could include some new information that has become available. The NMU Board of Trustees was able to meet today and approved an $820 credit, plus carryover of any remaining Dining Dollars to next semester, to students who check out of their residence hall rooms before 5 p.m. Friday, April 3. Students can also forego the credit and opt to remain on campus through the remainder of the semester, which ends May 2. We hope by providing multiple options for residence hall students, we are meeting the needs of on-campus students. More details are listed below.

 

Throughout the rest of the semester, keep communicating with your faculty and your on-campus employment supervisors. NMU faculty and staff are committed and determined to help you successfully complete this crazy, historic, unprecedented semester. While I know it’s not the learning experience you signed up for last November, this coronavirus outbreak is certainly a learning experience as you navigate daily changes, participate as global citizen in a worldwide event, stretch your creativity and innovation in resolving issues and problems, and establish your personal priorities.

 

I have confidence that you and Northern will come through this pandemic stronger and wiser. Please continue to practice social distancing and proper hygiene practices. Stay safe and well. Here are the top questions of today.

 

Fritz Erickson, NMU President 
 

 

COVID-19 in the UP?
On Tuesday afternoon (March 24), the Marquette County Public Health Department announced the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Marquette County, an individual who had traveled domestically and has since been self-isolated. There is also a presumptive case of an individual tested in Chippewa County on the eastern end of the U.P.  As we’ve been saying for the past week, we had to assume it had reached our area and we have been advising that we all act as if we have the virus, doing everything we can to protect those around from getting it.

 

What does a “stay at home, stay safe” order mean?
A “stay at home” or “shelter in place” order is a temporary requirement to “suspend activities that are not necessary to sustain or protect life.” More simply put, citizens are to remain in their place of residence to the maximum extent possible unless they need to leave for essential activities and work.

 

This means many people will work at home, many businesses will close, and in-person gatherings and meetings are suspended. There are exceptions to business closures, such as grocery stores, banks, gas stations, health care offices, and such – places that sustain and protect life.

 

The “stay at home” order does not include going outside for outdoor activities as long as individuals are practicing social distancing and keeping six feet apart. But the intent of the order is for people to limit their travel from their place of residence for the next three weeks (through April 13). The full executive order: Executive Order 2020-21.

 

Is the University closing?
Northern remains open, although most of our non-residence hall facilities will be closed for the next three weeks. NMU faculty and staff will be mostly working from home.  Students can email or call NMU offices or units for assistance and services during normal business hours and the NMU Police Department 24 hours per day. You can find departmental email and phone numbers on departmental websites or the NMU online phone directory.

 

OPEN:
All residence halls and apartment buildings
Northern Lights Dining (carry out)
Wildcat Den (carry out)
Temaki and Tea (drive-thru only)
NMU Health Center
NMU Police Department
Service Building-Central Services (mail, warehouse)
Hedgcock - Open by Appointment: Dean of Students, Housing and Residence Life.

 

All other buildings are closed. However, card swipe access to closed facilities will be granted to students whose jobs require them to gain entrance to a specific facility. Requests must come through supervisors.  This includes students working in NMU’s animal, plant and other research laboratories.

 

Consult the COVID-19 website (nmu.edu/covid) for changes to building closures hours of operation.

 

Will the residence halls and apartments be closing at some point? Are meals still being served?
The residence halls and apartments are open and dining services are being provided. It is Northern’s intent to keep the halls, apartments and dining services operational until the end of the semester. We know that for many of you, your NMU residence is your only home.  The dining and food facilities that remain open with carry-out and/or drive thru options including Northern Lights and CatTrax, Wildcat Den and Temaki and Tea. Closed are Starbucks, Fieras, Sundries and Melted.

 

Should I/can I go home?
Can you still travel to go home? Yes, the Governor’s executive order grants an exemption for individuals who need to travel to return to their home. If you decide to travel, please take every precaution possible.  Practice social distancing when you make stops, watch what you touch, wash your hands repeatedly and use hand sanitizer when you can’t.  Should you go home? You have to make the decision that is best for you and your family. You have housing and dining options if you want to stay or need to stay.

 

What should I do if I want to leave, but I can’t move my stuff right now?
If you choose to leave but can’t take your belongings with you at this time, that’s fine. Just turn in your key at the front desk. Your things will be cared for until you can return to pick them up at a later point.

 

Can my family come into the halls/apartments to help me move?
External doors to NMU’s residence halls and apartment buildings are locked to prevent non-residents to help keep the facilities as safe as possible for the residents.  Visitors and guests are restricted to those assisting with the move-out of heavy and bulky items only. Please be sure any family member entering the hall/apartment, be is someone who is not coughing or sneezing, has a fever, or feels ill in any way.

 

I left. When should I return for my stuff?
If you have already returned home, please stay there until restrictions have been lifted. Your belongings are fine. They will be waiting for you when the COVID-19 situation has improved and it is safe for you to travel. Hang onto your key – no need to mail it back – and bring it with you when you return to pick up your belongings.

 

Am I going to get a refund?
The NMU Board of Trustees met Tuesday, March 24, and approved an $820 credit, plus a carryover of any remaining Dining Dollars to next semester, to students who check out of their residence hall rooms before 5 p.m. Friday, April 3. Students can also forego the credit and opt to remain on campus through the remainder of the semester, which ends May 2. Students who qualify for the credit will be able to choose whether to apply that credit toward Fall 2020 on-campus room and board costs or to their student account, less any outstanding balances. We will make every attempt to honor a student’s preferred choice, but in some cases, federal financial aid regulations may require us to offer an alternative plan. Also, students who have received institutional financial aid may have an offset to their credit based on the aid they have received. A communication will be sent Thursday, March 26, to all students with a residence hall contract, containing links to an online form and instructions for indicating their plans related to leaving campus or staying in place.

 

I’m getting really depressed. Can someone help me?
Yes, there are people to help. We know these constant changes are very stressful for students. While Counseling and Consultation Services cannot meet with students in-person during this time, phone consultation services are still be offered. Students can call CCS at 227-2980 during normal business hours (M-F, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.). CCS has also put an extensive list of coping techniques on its website to help students address the extra stress.

 

With the university closing buildings, can I still work my student job?
Unfortunately, the Governor’s executive order will affect some on-campus student employees, but not all. You need to speak directly with your supervisor about your employment. Continuation of on-campus employment right now really depends on where you work. If positions open up due to students leaving campus, we are asking NMU supervisors to post their student work needs on the Career Service Handshake (nmu.edu/careerservices).  

 

I’ve lost my off-campus job. Are there any resources to help me?
We know many of our students are in this tough position. For immediate food and hygiene items, Northern is allowing the NMU Food Pantry on the first floor of Gries Hall (behind the Beaumier Center) to remain open during its normal hours of 5-7 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays. All of the items are free of charge. The state has relaxed some of its eligibility requirements for unemployment and underemployment benefits, so we encourage students who lost off-campus jobs to consider filing to see if they are eligible. The Healthy Michigan Plan offers health insurance options for Michigan residents; check eligibility here.

 

Is the Friday shopping shuttle still operating?
Yes. The shuttle will continue to operate. Bus trips will be limited 10 or fewer riders at a time so that proper social distancing can be done.  But the buses will make as many trips as necessary to accommodate shoppers. The shuttle pickup location is in Lot 9, between Hunt and Meyland Halls, off Wright Street. The first bus will leave at 3 p.m. See the complete schedule with drop-off points at the shuttle website.

 

Is the bookstore closing? What do we do about book rentals?
The Barnes and Noble-NMU bookstore will be closed March 24 through April 12. It will be offering limited online order processing during that time. For students with book rentals who are not returning to campus at any point before the end of the semester, the store has created a Rental Return page on its website where students can print out a UPS label to ship the books back, free of charge. Books must be shipped by the due date (currently May 2) and the label must be printed on or before the due date.

 

Is there any help for those of us struggling with the distance learning format?
Yes, the All-Campus Tutoring Center has designated some student tutors as available to help their peers transition to the distance learning format. To request help, email act@nmu.edu.  A tutor will get back to you and set up a ZOOM meeting, if needed. Also, there are a number of classes that already have tutors assigned to the specific EduCat course pages. Go to the ACT home page to see for which courses. Your faculty or ACAC adviser may also have resources and advice on how adjust to the distance learning format. The NMU Global Campus shares this handout and this video that our online-only students use to help them with the remote learning format.

 

Is academic advising and fall course registration canceled?
No, academic advising continues, although some faculty may have paused the last two weeks during the conversion process to distance learning. If you have not met with your faculty or ACAC adviser yet, please email them to set up time to connect via phone or Zoom. Registration for summer (no assigned times) and fall courses (assigned registration start times) is underway. 

 

I still need to print for my class. Where can I do that?

Keep in mind that the state is under a “stay in place” executive order that allows only essential travel, so please limit your trips to campus for printing only to what is absolutely necessary. Printers have been relocated to the Services Building room 132 and will be available from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. To find room 132, enter the Services Building at the entrance nearest to the NMU Police Department, go through the internal double doors and turn to the left. Room 132 is on the right.

 

Where do I go if my computer needs repair? How do I return library books? Give to the NMU Food Pantry?
The NMU Police Department and the Services Building are serving as a drop off for several areas on campus during this period when buildings are closed.  Between the hours if 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, you can drop off a computer for MicroRepair, an NMU Olson Library item for return or donations to NMU Food Pantry.  The Services Building is located on Sugarloaf Avenue (between Wright Street and Hawley Street).

NMU Students, Faculty and Staff, 

 

 

After consultation with state and university officials, the following decisions have been made with the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff in mind during the COVID-19 outbreak:

·All classes, labs, events and campus-wide meetings are canceled Thursday, March 12 and Friday March 13. Campus will remain open.

·Face-to-face classes will resume in an online/distance delivery format beginning Monday, March 16 and continue through April 3. A decision concerning the rest of the semester and final exams will be made by March 30. Faculty will provide information before the first class meeting next week to let students know how course delivery will be handled.

·Lab classes will continue meeting in-person with exceptions determined by the academic department and the respective dean.

·Residence halls, student food services and recreation areas will remain open with some functional changes that will be determined in the next few days. The goal is to meet the needs of students while taking necessary precautions.

·All large events in March and April of 150 or more attendees will be canceled or adjusted. Other campus events are subject to cancelation.

·Wildcat Weekend, NMU’s major spring student recruiting event scheduled for Saturday, March 14 has been canceled.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In short, the university remains open with most classes being held online. The myriad of follow-up questions will be addressed as soon as possible. University leaders across campus will be asked to make decisions and adjust as needed as we serve our students as best we can, with special attention for our graduating seniors meeting their graduation requirements.

 

 

Fritz Erickson, NMU President

NMU Students, Faculty and Staff,
 

Welcome back to those of you who are returning from spring break.  I hope you had a relaxing and healthy break. Now that everyone is back, it is vital that we are diligent to our good hygiene practice.  For example, make sure to:

·       wash your hands frequently

·       sneeze/cough into tissues or sleeves and

·       stay home if you are sick.
 

It may seem too simple of a thing to make a major difference in the spread of infectious diseases, but for non-airborne viruses such as seasonal influenza and the coronavirus (COVID-19), it is the most important thing we can collectively do to keep NMU healthy. 
 

Not feeling well?
Remember, if you are feeling unwell, stay home and rest. Do not go to class, work or campus/community events. If you are concerned about your symptoms, contact your physician or the NMU Health Center (227-2355).  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have indicated that older individuals and those with immune and medical issues are at a higher risk for catching and having a more severe case of COVID-19.  If you are an NMU community members with immune or medical issues that put you at risk, please contact the appropriate office for assistance in requesting a medical accommodation:

·       Students – contact Disability Student Services at 227-1700

·       Faculty and Staff – contact Human Resources at 227-2330 
 

CDC recommendations
This week and next could give us an indication of whether our seasonal influenza situation on campus is getting better. The COVID-19 situation, of course, remains incredibly fluid, but as of the writing of this note, there still is no confirmed case in Michigan. Please know that Northern is following the recommendations of the CDC and, locally, the guidance of the Marquette County Public Health Department. You can follow the CDC’s recommendations at www.cdc.gov, click on “coronavirus update” at the top of the page. 
 

NMU restricting plane travel
Because of a recent CDC recommendation, Northern is restricting non-essential university-sponsored travel by flight, both domestic and international, as of today until further notification. This does not yet include travel by car, but please be prepared for that to change. If you have already been approved for university-sponsored flight travel you feel is essential, please discuss with your division leader. The CDC recommends older individuals and persons with immune and medical issues not travel at this time. However, in the case of both upcoming domestic and international, please use the NMU International Travel Registry to record the basic details of your trip so the university can quickly contact you if action is needed regarding your travel. 
 

Questions the campus members have had
Testing: Many of you have sent in questions about how the decision to test for coronavirus is determined. That is not a university decision (we have no testing kits on campus), but is done through a process set up by the CDC and implemented by the Marquette County Public Health Department and the Upper Peninsula Health System-Marquette. If you are ill and have questions about your symptoms, contact your physician or the NMU Health Center (227-2355).
 

Large-group events: There have also been several questions about whether Northern is cancelling large-group gatherings, such as lectures, concerts and athletic events.  At this point, we are not cancelling these and the CDC is not yet recommending that we do so. But, like travel, the CDC recommends that older individuals and those with medical conditions sit in areas less populated and those with immune or medical issues not attend if it is not essential to do so. Because of this, Northern will begin having signage with the CDC recommendation at event entrances for where attendance over 150 is expected. Holding such events could change, and change quickly, but as of right now, events continue.

 

Putting courses online: We’ve also been asked if Northern is converting all of our courses to online/distance. Luckily, we are a campus that has the technology capability to offer most classes at a distance using synchronous video, if needed. We ask NMU faculty to have a plan to do so as part of our worst-case scenario planning (more details about faculty support to do that coming). However, as of right now we are not converting all courses to online/distance. That said, there have been a small number of cases where a faculty member has received approval to convert to online classes due to an immune system or medical condition they or someone in their family has. We are ready to assist faculty who may be asked to provide online synchronous instruction using Zoom technology to accommodate students with immune and medical issues that put them at risk when in group settings.
 

Travel registry: Thank you to all who have shared your information regarding your spring break travel via the NMU International Travel Registry found on the MyNMU portal.  While our original goal was to collect information about international travel, we have also been using the registry to collect information about domestic travel to states with confirmed COVID-19 outbreaks. There is an option on the online form for U.S. destinations.
 

Again, Northern is receiving regular updates from the CDC and U.S. State Department. The CDC sends recommendations specific to colleges and universities and we’re following them. We are regularly consulting with the Marquette Public Health Department, having brought to them many suggestions, ideas and questions from NMU community members, and they’ve provided guidance that has helped in our decision-making.  We continue to plan logistics for possible deteriorating conditions related to COVID-19 with the hope that we never have to put our contingency plans in actions. However, faculty and staff may be asked to actively participate in that planning.

That is the update for now. As decisions are made related to the seasonal flu and/or COVID-19 situations, I will keep you informed.  
 

Fritz Erickson, NMU President

NMU Students, Faculty and Staff,

I realize many of you are on spring break and I hate to interrupt your vacation activities. However, it seems important to provide some communication about the University’s plans regarding the fast-evolving worldwide COVID-19 coronavirus situation. As of this writing, there is no known case of COVID-19 in the Upper Peninsula or Michigan. However, the COVID-19 situation has certainly escalated worldwide and domestically since our last communication emailed to you on Feb. 21.

In that note, I informed you that Northern was suspending all university-sponsored travel through this semester to and from China, which at the time was the only U.S. State Department Level 3 COVID-19 health risk nation. Since then, Iran has been elevated to Level 4, South Korea and Italy to Level 3, and Japan to Level 2. Northern does have two students doing study abroad in South Korea and two in Japan. We have been communicating with these students and have offered to assist in bringing them back to the United States and their hometowns, if that is wanted or necessary. We will make a decision about all upcoming university-sponsored international travel, including the six faculty-led study abroad courses scheduled for this summer, later in the semester. We continue to advise NMU community members involved in personal or university-sponsored travel to other nations to carefully monitor the federal agency travel advisories (cdc.gov and travel.state.gov). 

For those returning from international travel over spring break, we would like you to sign into the NMU International Travel Registry before coming back to campus, even if that travel was personal. This will allow Northern to communicate quickly with you about any COVID-19 updates we receive related to the area from which you are returning. A link to the registry can be found on the MyNMU portal under the Student Services tab for students and Employee Services for faculty and staff.

On campus, the NMU Emergency Planning work group has met with Marquette County Public Health and Upper Peninsula Health System-Marquette officials to develop a coordinated approach for both influenza and COVID-19 outbreaks, discussing protocols from testing to quarantine. The group is also developing plans for what the university might need to do if the level of either of these viruses becomes prevalent on campus. Those are worst-case scenarios that we plan for, but hope we won’t ever face. However, if we do, we will be as ready as we can be. We plan to update the campus on a regular basis regarding what we are learning about the situation and what we are doing in response. We continue to follow the directives of the U.S. State Department and Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Today, our collective best action to prevent the spread of any type of infection, including influenza or COVID-19, is to be diligent about practicing good hygiene:

  • Frequently wash your hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  •  Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve, not your hands, when you sneeze or cough.
  •  If you are ill, especially if you have a fever of 100.4 degrees or more, stay in bed and rest.
  • If you are concerned about your symptoms, contact your physician or the NMU Health Center (227-2355) to develop your best course of action.

For now, enjoy your spring break … and keep washing your hands.
Fritz Erickson, NMU President

February 21, 2020
 

To: NMU Students, Faculty and Staff

From: Dr. Fritz Erickson, NMU President
            Dr. Christopher Kirkpatrick, Medical Director, NMU Health Center

Re: Staying Healthy During and After Spring Break Travel


Northern’s spring break, which starts next week (Feb. 29-March 8), has many in our NMU community preparing for travel. It is with this in mind that we wanted to update you on matters related to the general spread of influenza, as well as the novel coronavirus outbreak.

 

The fact is that you are much more likely to come in contact with the influenza virus than with the coronavirus. The risk of a coronavirus epidemic in the United States is very low. There have been no confirmed cases in Michigan and no suspected cases in the Upper Peninsula or at NMU. However, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has reported a much higher than average ‘flu rate in both the state and the nation.

 

If you are traveling this spring break – whether within the United States, internationally, or just across the U.P. – there are steps you can take to help prevent the spread of any virus, including influenza. These include:

· Avoid close physical contact with sick people.

· Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.

· Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60-95% alcohol.
       o   It is especially important to clean hands after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.

· Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.

· And, if you feel sick with fever, cough or difficulty breathing, do not go to class, work or university and community events. Contact your physician or the NMU Health Center (906-227-2355) to develop your best course of action.

 

Regarding the coronavirus virus outbreak, Northern has taken the precautionary measure to suspend university-sponsored travel to China for the remainder of the semester and until further notice. This suspension follows the recommendations of the U.S. State Department, which advises against all non-essential travel to that country. Unfortunately, this does impact one faculty-led study abroad opportunity that was scheduled for China in May and a couple of student internships. Fortunately, NMU does not have any students or faculty studying or researching in China this semester.

 

Yesterday (Feb. 20), the U.S. State Department raised its alert from Level 1 to 2 for Hong Kong due to increased novel coronavirus cases there. Northern strongly encourages all those within the university community who are traveling abroad this spring break or in the upcoming months to diligently monitor the spread of the coronavirus outbreak in order to make the best health decisions for yourself; your family, friends and colleagues; and our community. You can do this at Travel.state.gov and CDC.gov. Also please remember that students, faculty and staff who are traveling internationally should complete NMU’s international travel registration. Doing so enables the university to provide you any information it receives about changing situations in the area in which you are traveling.

 

If delaying international travel now or in upcoming months causes any issues for students, the NMU International Programs Office is available for assistance. Please contact IPO at 203 Cohodas Hall or by calling 906-227-2510, or emailing Diana Vreeland, IPO director, at dvreelan@nmu.edu. Faculty impacted by the travel suspension and in need of assistance should work with Academic Affairs, 610 Cohodas Hall, 906-227-2920.

 

We wish you a relaxing and healthy spring break. To any in our university community who are currently suffering with the ‘flu, get a lot of sleep, drink plenty of water and get well soon.