An empty classroom in WMU's Sangren Hall

An empty classroom in WMU's Sangren Hall leaves chairs pushed in neatly, patiently waiting for in-person instruction to begin again. 

Western Michigan University will be moving to virtual classes starting Wednesday, Nov. 18, following Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announcement of a new emergency order from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), according to an email from the Office of the President to the WMU community.

The order enacts a three-week pause around indoor social gatherings and other group activities in an effort to battle the rising COVID-19 cases in Michigan. 

All classes at WMU will be delivered by distance instruction. WMU was already going remote after Thanksgiving to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Starting Wednesday, only classes involving health care programs may continue to be offered in person if they cannot be conducted online. 

WMUx will assist faculty members in developing strategies for continuing instruction remotely in those courses that had planned to continue in person for the full semester and that do not involve health care.

Students working at internships or externships should follow the direction and policies at their location to continue their work.

All WMU employees who can perform their duties remotely will do so as possible. If work duties can not be done remotely, safety precautions will continue to be enforced. Employees should contact their manager or supervisor with questions about work arrangements.

Residence hall operations will not be affected by this order besides indoor gathering, which may only occur in the residence halls. 

These gatherings must adhere to posted distancing requirements and are limited to students from no more than two different rooms or suites.

Outdoor gatherings are limited to 25. All RSOs will meet virtually and club sports are postponed for the duration of the order.

Indoor eating is permitted in WMU Dining Services if diners are seated at tables and are six feet apart. Roommates and suitemates may share a table. Tables must be spaced a minimum of six feet apart. Grab’n go services will continue as well.

All campus research and creative scholarship that has a vice president for research and innovation-approved safety plan remains unaffected by this emergency order. This includes graduate and undergraduate work, including students working in research labs. Laboratory courses will not meet in person.

Waldo Library will remain open but at a reduced capacity. Along with the Student Recreation Center for individual exercise, however, group fitness classes are prohibited. Public transit is also permitted under the order.

The email also mentioned that Sindecuse Health Center’s drive-thru testing event has been extended to begin Monday, Nov. 16, and run through Thursday, Nov. 19. Schedule a test calling (269) 387-3287. 

Students who get tested during the testing event will receive a $5 certificate to spend at participating downtown businesses.

“The rapid rise of cases combined with cold weather and the anticipated holidays are a concerning mix of factors that can make our current situation worse,” the email reads. “We've proven this semester we know what to do; let's continue to do it.”

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