MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – Because of unanticipated delays in receiving COVID-19 test results, the Marquette County Health Department has recommended that Northern Michigan University delay the start of the fall semester by a day, Monday (Aug. 17), and begin fall classes with remote instruction for the first four days (August 18-21).
“We will follow the advice of the county health department, but I want to emphasize that we are only going to do remote instruction until the test results are in, then we will go to the face-to-face in-person instruction we promised. Based on the rate of return now, that should be no longer than the first four days of classes,” said NMU President Fritz Erickson.
“It is unfortunate that the lab we are using, who we contracted with to return results in 24-48 hours, has not been able to deliver on that time line,” said Erickson. “Our revised plan is that we’ll need remote instruction for this first week only as results are coming back more quickly again, but there are still a large number of tests left to process.”
Northern is conducting about 7,700 COVID-19 tests of students, faculty and staff. With about 7,300 completed, the University has only received 3,800 results. The positive rate of the processed tests is 0.50%
Erickson said during Saturday’s daily meeting between NMU Logistics Team members and Marquette County Health Department officials, the pace of returning test results was discussed and Northern received a new recommendation to start fall classes remotely until the majority of results have been returned.
“We understand the anxiousness of these times and we recognize that having more of the results back will help to make the start of the semester less stressful for all of us,” said Erickson. “I want to thank the Marquette County Health Department officials for discussing this situation with us. Northern will continue to following the MCHD and Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations, as we have been since the start of the pandemic.”
In an email to campus, Erickson reminded the NMU community that “doing the simple things will have the biggest impact” on making face-to-face instruction possible throughout the semester. He said, “Wear your mask, social distance, avoid large gatherings, wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face with unclean hands. These are things we can all do that will help to determine if we can stay with face-to-face instruction once we begin that format. Be smart this weekend and in the upcoming days.”