'A critical time:' U-M students told to lay low for 2 weeks amid UK Covid variant outbreak

January 27, 2021, 4:25 PM by  Alan Stamm

University of Michigan student at the main campus last week. (Photo: Instagram/U-M)

Heightened health concerns and a new recommendation limiting public movement affect students at the University of Michigan, hit by a cluster of Covid cases confirmed as the riskier United Kingdom strain.

The university and county health department on Wednesday tell students to "stay in place" for two weeks, which means avoiding social activities and most other outings. Classes and research work are allowed.

"This is a critical time for preventing spread of Covid-19, including the rapidly emerging B.1.1.7 variant," says an announcement from President Mark Schlissel and two other administrators.

We are seeing increased cases in the U-M student community, with larger numbers of close contacts from social activities. ...

Today, the county health department, in collaboration with the university, issued a Stay in Place Recommendation for all U-M Ann Arbor undergraduate, graduate and professional students enrolled in Winter 2021 and living in Washtenaw County. It is effective immediately and urges all students, including those in on-campus housing, to remain in their residence or household through Feb. 7.

The urgent recommendation, effective immediately, says "testing has detected clusters of both the B.1.1.7 Covid-19 variant and the predominant strain of the virus in recent days in the U-M student community."

U-M last Sunday suspended all athletic training, competition and other operations for 14 days because at least five cases of the  mutant strain are tied to several U-M sports teams. The pause affects men's and women's basketball, volleyball and ice hockey.

The first Ann Arbor diagnosis Jan. 16 involved a female U-M athlete who returned from the United Kingdom, according to The Michigan Daily student paper.

In Wednesday's directive, Schlissel, Provost Susan Collins and the vice president for student life say they and county officials are acting "before spread of this more infectious version of Covid-19 threatens to overwhelm our ability to address the virus."

U-M Ann Arbor students may leave their residences to attend in-person classes, instructional labs or other essential educational activities, including research. They may also leave to work or to obtain food, medicine, medical care, COVID-19 testing, vaccinations, or supplies that are essential when such cannot be obtained via delivery.

Religious activities and volunteering at vaccination efforts are permitted. Outdoor exercise is encouraged in groups of no more than two people.


Covid variant halts sports for 2 weeks at U-M, which has at least 5 cases of mutant strain, Jan. 24

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