This is a developing story, check back later for updates and follow-ups.
EMU has delayed on-campus move-in day for three weeks, until Sept. 17 and will transition most remaining in-person classes to an online format by Sept. 20. Students were originally expected to start moving in Aug. 27.
In an email to students Monday morning, EMU President James Smith said that over a 72-hour period, the university made the decision to postpone move-in, following their assessment of other university re-openings across the country. Smith said the decision was based on a recommendation from the Faculty Senate Executive Committee and approved by the University's Executive Council. EMU Provost and Executive Vice President Rhonda Longworth is also said to have fully supported the move.
"The decision follows an assessment of the reopening of campuses across the country that has shown increased outbreaks of COVID-19 among students and challenges in limiting social gatherings and parties," the email from Smith said.
Students who were approved to move in early and are already on campus will be allowed to stay. There are currently just over 200 students living on campus, according to Executive Director of Media Relations Geoff Larcom, including resident advisors, student athletes, some band members, and other students approved for early move-in.
Some students with a "unique circumstance" will be allowed to move in on their original date, but these will be "rare instances". Students with housing insecurity or with a high-risk relative at home may be approved to move-in during the delayed period.
Students will receive credit for housing or dining charges during the delayed period, starting from their original move-in date to their new move-in date.
EMU will also transition the majority of its remaining in-person classes to an online format. Approximately 20-25% of fall classes were expected to be held in person, according to the email.
There will be a few exceptions to the all-online format, with some schools within the College of Health and Human Services, including the School of Nursing, having in-person instruction.
President Smith explained three major reasons for the delay in housing.
First, the decision came after university administration assessed other university openings around the country and reviewed the major challenges those institutions have faced.
Second was the upcoming Labor Day holiday weekend, which health officials suspect could cause another increase in COVID-19 cases, similar to what happened after Memorial Day. The delay of three weeks allows for a 14-day period after labor day and before students move in, which is the incubation time for any COVID-19 cases resulting from exposure during Labor Day weekend.
Third, Smith said the delay allows the university to establish expanded COVID-19 testing protocols for students and staff on campus.
"New testing providers and processes are increasing rapidly and we are working toward further testing of students and other members of our community as part of our planning for the return to limited on-campus activities on September 21," the email said.
All students were provided with a COVID-19 test to be administered before moving to on-campus housing. Students were required to receive a negative result before returning to campus.
"Time and data have proven invaluable in the fight against this disease," Smith said in the email to students. "Delaying move-in will provide valuable information regarding the spread of the disease on college campuses, both in Michigan and across the country. It will allow us additional time to work with local officials around enforcement and increased education. It also will tell us whether further protective actions may be necessary, and inform us of other strategies that may be proving successful in the county and elsewhere."
Check back for updates and reactions from the EMU and Ypsilanti communities.