Q & A

The three public universities in the U.P.—NMU, Lake Superior State and Michigan Tech—on Wednesday, March 11 suspended face-to-face classes and will move to an on-line learning environment. This move follows Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s decision to  declare a state of emergency “to maximize efforts to slow the spread of the Covid-19 virus.” At press time, Michigan has two documented cases of the coronavirus and more are expected to occur. The North Wind spoke with NMU President Fritz Erickson, NMU Chief of Police Mike, Bath and Derek Hall to discuss the situation and provide the NMU community with information regarding on-line delivery of instruction and campus safety protocol.

President Fritz Erickson 

What technological capacities does NMU have to go online?

We are technologically prepared, probably more so than most institutions—because of the laptop program, and because of the internet availability. We feel very confident that we have all the technology in place for all courses to be converted to some form of online. Most notably ZOOM technology. 

What does this mean to students abroad currently?

We’ve offered students that are currently studying in stage three countries the opportunity to get back home and to provide the support they need to be able to do that. We don’t have the ability to require anybody to come back, but we certainly don’t want to have any obstacles. If they do come back, they need to follow whatever self-quarantine guidelines that are put into effect by those countries.

What about students not in a stage three country?

We are currently in communication with all of our students on study abroad to make sure that they are informed, know what their options are, and what the university will do to really support and help them. We don’t have a lot of students that are currently studying abroad, so we’re in contact with each one individually. 

Chief of Police Mike Bath

Does NMU have a current plan for pandemics and what does it consist of?  

Yes, NMU has an Emergency Response Team that is reviewing and updating the pandemic plan. We are working closely with the NMU Health Center, the Marquette County Health Department, the State of Michigan Coronavirus resource site and the CDC. 

What is the role of the police department in responding to emergencies involving community health?  

The NMU Police Department works with various university stakeholders to ensure we provide a safe learning, working and living environment.  As part of the Emergency Response Team, we are providing input to the various actions that are being implemented.   

Is NMU public safety prepared to handle a pandemic and the resulting panic if it were to occur?  

Yes, we play a key role in keeping the university safe, and we are working closely with the medical community to formulate our response plans and take appropriate actions.

Chief Marketing Officer

Are people with jobs around campus still going to have to show up to work Thursday and Friday?

It’s going to be a normal work day for employees. We wanted to give faculty a bit of a buffer time because this is such a big change. There’s a lot that goes into cancelling classes and events around campus. Traditional face to face classes are going to an online format in some way. It’s not only us, it’s universities around the country. 

How will students learn about what will happen with their classes?

Faculty should contact students before the beginning of classes next week.

Will students be allowed to stay on campus if classes are cancelled for the rest of semester? 

Yes.

Article continued on page 15