Campus Update - March 4, 2020

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