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Ready or not, NMU students on their way back to campus

It’s safe to say the 2020-21 academic year for Northern Michigan University will be a little different than previous years.

The world still is in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning the coronavirus threat still exists.

So, social distancing, hand sanitizing and other protocols will play an important part in campus life. However, considering many people will descend upon campus in a short time — next week, to be exact — special measures have to be taken beyond the basics.

NMU’s “Passport to Campus” is geared toward keeping students, faculty and staff safe. For several days before the semester, NMU students, faculty and staff will take part in the event at the Northern Center. They will be asked to reserve a time slot for COVID-19 molecular testing and receive two complimentary NMU-branded face coverings during the appointment and other items relevant to school or work.

Before their scheduled Passport to Campus appointments, members of the NMU community will receive a text link to a responsive web page that will guide them through the process. They will be instructed to send a text indicating that they have arrived in the Northern Center parking lot near the bookstore entrance.

They will wait in their vehicles until receiving a return text to make their way into the building. This will eliminate congestion at the check-in desk on the ground floor.

That’s an important step; congested areas are not conducive to COVID-19 safety.

After being tested, they will be given essential items such as university-issued laptops, housing keys, ID cards and parking passes.

Apart from testing, cleaning on campus has to be performed in a special manner. So, NMU is using MicrobeCare, an antimicrobial coating with hospital-grade disinfect to high-touch areas. It is guaranteed non-toxic and is not supposed to wear or wash off once applied.

Routing cleaning, however, will continue.

Social distancing also is a challenge.

NMU is reconfiguring most classrooms to align with 6-foot social distancing guidelines and installing plexiglass barriers in others to enhance student safety.

In the lecture-style classrooms with tiered seating and fixed tables, barriers are being affixed in front of each seat to provide separation between the rows. In fixed auditoriums such as Jamrich auditorium, there will be markers for where students can and can’t sit.

Students who do test positive for COVID-19 will be isolated and placed in Spalding Hall.

However, as with just about every coronavirus-related situation on the planet now, things are fluid, and could change from one week, or even one day, to the next.

Proper planning, though, is crucial, and we’re glad to see that NMU is taking steps to reduce the chances for a COVID-19 outbreak on campus.

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