“Grizzlies Together — Again,” Oakland University’s plan to repopulate campus in 2021, includes, among other things, increasing the number of students living in the on-campus residence halls and apartments to 80% capacity.

“Grizzlies Together — Again,” Oakland University’s plan to repopulate campus in 2021, includes, among other things, increasing the number of students living in the on-campus residence halls and apartments to 80% capacity.

Photo provided by Oakland University

OU plans in-person classes, events for fall

COVID vaccine required for student residents prior to fall semester

By: Mary Beth Almond | Metro | Published April 6, 2021

ROCHESTER — Oakland University students can expect to return to classrooms and their dorms this fall, according to OU officials.

Over a year has passed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and OU Student Congress President Ethan Bradley said the one thing students have missed the most is simply being around each other.

“With limitations on housing and not having in-person classes or a lot of in-person events, we’re not really seeing our classmates and we’re not really feeling like a community as much as we normally do,” he said. “I’m really excited to see us getting to bring back some of that this fall.”

OU President Dr. Ora Hirsch Pescovitz — who recently announced “Grizzlies Together — Again,” the university’s plan to repopulate the campus in 2021 — said the upcoming school year will be “close to normal” on campus.

“There are a lot of things that our students and faculty really missed about the pre-pandemic era, and that includes, of course, so many student experiences, athletics, being in the student union, being together in their residence halls. We did have some students in the residence halls, just not at full capacity, so we’re going to go back to having a really vibrant and exciting student life,” said Pescovitz.

The university’s plan for the fall includes increasing undergraduate face-to-face learning to nearly 80%, along with increasing the number of students living in the on-campus residence halls and apartments to 80% capacity. The campus will also resume all in-person dining at the residence halls and the Oakland Center, and will revive student activities and programming, along with athletic competitions that will include spectators this fall.

OU students who want to ease back into campus life can still expect some virtual course offerings, carryout options from the on-campus dining halls, and in-person, virtual and hybrid-style support services. The university also plans to offer additional mental health services to support students who may experience stress and anxiety.

“We’ll be a little more cautious around one another, and I think some things will look a little bit different, but I do think the fun, exciting, educational and productive things that you think about when you think about college life will be coming back this fall,” Pescovitz said.

Oakland University Senior Vice President of Student Affairs Glenn McIntosh can’t wait for the start of the fall semester.

“I’ve been in higher ed for 30 years, and one of the things I’ve always been excited about is that first fall semester day when classes begin and the campus community is just buzzing with energy and excitement about what’s to come,” he said. “When we hit September of this year … it will be about 15 months of a near-empty campus, so I’m excited and expecting our parking lots to be filled, campus walkways populated with people, and people using our social spaces and cafeterias.”

OU officials said the rationale for the plan is based on the ongoing widespread distribution and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, adherence to prevention measures, less restrictive state requirements, and low numbers of virus cases and positivity rates on campus, among other factors, which are continuously evaluated.

As a physician, Pescovitz said she is “a very, very, strong proponent and believer” in the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines.

“Without a doubt, probably the single biggest factor (in our plan) is the anticipation that there will be widespread distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine and that the majority of our students, faculty and staff will be vaccinated by the fall. Although we are not going to make it mandatory (for all students), I am going to strongly encourage that there is vaccine awareness and we are going to have big campaigns for students, faculty and staff to get vaccinated,” Pescovitz said. “I really think that will really be our biggest weapon right now in helping us to protect our campus community and the surrounding community as well.”

Students living on campus in residence halls, apartments and cottages, however, are required to be vaccinated prior to fall move-in on Friday, Aug. 27. OU officials said exceptions will be made for students who seek a religious or medical exemption. The requirement means students living in any of Oakland’s six residence halls must be fully vaccinated and submit their verification of vaccination status prior to moving in.

The university kicked off COVID-19 vaccinations for faculty, staff and students April 7-9 at a Rite-Aid clinic in Meadow Brook Theatre. Appointments for the second of the two-shot vaccination series — at an OU site — were to be scheduled at the initial visit.

Students who could not make it to their second shot appointment were encouraged to schedule their vaccination for the student-only one-shot vaccine clinic April 13.

Oakland University students who wish to receive the Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine can make an appointment for one 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday, April 13, at the Oakland Center. Appointments are required to receive a vaccination, and details to register are available at oakland.edu/return-to-campus/covid-19-vaccines.

The goal, according to Pescovitz, is for every member of the OU community to receive a vaccination before the end of spring semester and to ensure that all students, faculty and staff are completely immunized before the start of fall semester.

“We are fortunate that Oakland is receiving these vaccines at a time when Michigan is experiencing a dramatic increase in both the number of COVID-19 cases and COVID-19 variants,” she said in a statement. “The most effective way to prevent infection and transmission of this virus is vaccination. I expect everyone will do their part and get vaccinated.”

For more information about OU, visit oakland.edu or call (248) 370-2100.