Sprau in the Snow

When two seasons come together, you get one beautiful campus. Sprau Tower, the tallest building on Western's main campus, stands tall in the first snow of the year on Oct. 31, 2019. 

Western Michigan University released its Safe Return Plan for the Fall Semester in an email Friday, July 17.

The plan includes steps the university is taking to keep students safe in dorms and dining halls due to COVID-19.

It also includes information on face to face services and reinforces parts of the plan announced last month with health and safety in mind. Masks will be required in all indoor and outdoor public spaces where social distancing is not possible.

“The health and safety of the entire WMU community is our first priority,” the plan reads. “We have charted a course through the COVID-19 pandemic that continues WMU’s high-quality educational experience. At WMU, we care about each other and must work together to protect the well-being of all people in our campus community. We have adopted this safe return plan to continue to provide students, faculty, staff and visitors with a healthy space in which to learn, live and discover.”

Classes begin on Sept. 2 and will be offered either in-person, hybrid or online. Distance learning will begin Nov. 20 at noon and will remain that way through the end of Fall semester, final exams will be conducted virtually. There will be no Fall Break due to the need to limit travel.

“This academic year at WMU will be unlike any other,” the plan reads. “It will require flexibility, resilience and grace from the entire campus community. This year will also be characterized by a high-quality academic experience that puts health and safety at the forefront.”

Student residence halls and apartments will have a modified move in process which includes new policies and procedures with enhanced cleaning and social distancing measures.

These adjustments include:

  • Closing halls with community bathrooms that are not semi-private. Western Heights has semi-private bathrooms with floor to ceiling walls and a full door. 

  • Strongly encouraging testing for all residents at Sindecuse health Center upon move-in.

  • Modifying move-in to a touchless process while promoting social distancing.

  • Requiring masks indoors but not in one’s own room.

  • Increasing the frequency and intensity of cleaning in public spaces.

  • Enhancing safety measures.

  • Limiting occupancy in gathering spaces.

Move-in procedures include:

  • Designated days for new student move-in for Fall Welcome.

  • Designated days for returning student move-in.

  • Local students within a set radius of Kalamazoo drop off belongings early and return on their Fall Welcome move-in day.

  • Assigned a 90-minute move-in block, with blocks capped at 33 students per building. Limited to 2 move-in helpers, who are required to wear masks.

  • Face coverings will be required while outside one’s room or apartment.

  • An online pre-check-in form and touchless check-in will be provided.

  • Enhanced custodial support to intensify cleaning.

Move-in schedule and more details can be found on the housing’s website. New students will receive their assigned move-in time on Aug. 7 by email. 

The plan said that guests inside residence halls and apartments will be limited. The full policy will be posted on the housing website once final approval on changes is received. Laundry rooms and common areas will remain open but with occupancy limits.

Dining centers will be open to students with occupancy limits and reduced seating capacity. Reminders about masks and social distancing will be posted throughout the dining halls. 

Students will be able to customize some selection from micro-restaurants in the dining center but some options may be closed to expedite services. Anyone going to a dining center will be required to wear a mask except when they are seated and eating.

All dining centers will close every day from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. to allow for cleaning and disinfecting of all surfaces and touch points. Grab ‘n’ go will remain open.

Other practices being implanted include:

  • Daily health screening of all Dining employees.

  • Face masks worn by all Dining employees; guests are to wear face coverings in grab ‘n’ go locations and in the dining centers, except when seated and eating.

  • Physical distancing of 6 feet; guidelines by guests with reminders posted throughout serving areas, dining areas and lobbies; employees observe physical distancing during shifts and breaks.

  • In-person dining areas set up to allow 6 feet; distancing between tables and a reduction of 50% of seating from established seating plan.

  • Serving or plating all choices (eliminating buffet style and self-service stations)

  • Cleaning and disinfection processes conducted three times daily, to include additional diligent staff training on infection prevention protocols.

  • Online ordering and delivery of meals for ill students with meal plans residing on campus.

  • Carryout options for lunch and dinner.

  • Development of an online carryout and pick-up service to help minimize direct person-to-person contact.

  • Ackley, Britton and Hadley residents will have the option to choose a meal plan.

More information can be found at wmich.edu/dining/precautions.

Masks will be required when riding the bus. Riders will enter and exit from the back of the bus. Seating has been adjusted for social distancing and no standing will be allowed. Busses will be sanitized daily.

Student-facing services will resume in person operations on Aug. 17. Office hours and general operations will vary by office.

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