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Ann Arbor Mayor & Police Chief Plan Proactive Response As Students Return To Town In A Pandemic

Aug 24, 2020

Ann Arbor
Credit Lisa Barry / 89.1 WEMU

Usually, the return of thousands of University of Michigan students to the Ann Arbor area adds an exciting and anticipatory energy to the community.  But this year, because we are in a pandemic, that excitement is tempered by concerns for public health and safety.  Will students adhere to recommended restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19?  What impact will their added presence have on the Ann Arbor community during this global health crisis?  Those are some of the questions WEMU’s Lisa Barry discussed with Ann Arbor mayor Christopher Taylor and Ann Arbor police chief Michael Cox.

Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor
Credit City of Ann Arbor / a2gov.org

With thousands of University of Michigan students arriving on campus this week and into the city of Ann Arbor, both the mayor and police chief say they plan to do what they can to keep residents as safe and healthy as possible in a pandemic.

They are taking what they call a “proactive and educational approach” with students as Ann Arbor mayor Christopher Taylor says there are lots of “unknowns” this year.

Ann Arbor Police Chief Michael Cox
Credit City of Ann Arbor / a2gov.org

Both Ann Arbor Mayor Taylor and police chief Michael Cox say their initial approach as students go out into the community is to treat this as a public health crisis...not a law enforcement crisis, believing educating students about the COVID-19 crisis and how to behave accordingly will have the necessary positive health impact to curb the spread of the disease.

Chief Cox says limited resources will affect just how much "enforcement" then can do with those ignoring public health pandemic protocols.  He says, "This is about the health of a community, not just individuals," adding they hope to educate students as much as possible about taking the necessary health precautions and worry about the "enforcement" part of it if students don't comply if it comes to that.

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— Lisa Barry is the host of All Things Considered on WEMU. You can contact Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her at lbarryma@emich.edu