Dear U-M Parents and Families,
Hopefully this message finds you and your loved ones well. We miss our students—Ann Arbor is simply less vibrant without the hum of many Wolverines at work. But thanks to the thoughtful and deliberate effort of hundreds of U-M community members and health experts, our campus is prepared for your student and ready to Go Blue!
Today, President Mark S. Schlissel announced that the University of Michigan will offer an innovative, public health-informed, in-person semester this fall. Students will be able to engage in a breadth of in-person and remote classes structured for public health and wellness, or will be able to take classes entirely remotely if they wish. We’ll also have a multitude of safety measures in place.
The planning we’ve done to get us to this point has been extensive. U-M has public health and medical expertise not commonly found at other institutions. This includes an accredited, leading University Health Service that provides on-campus care for our students, and a highly ranked academic medical center, Medical School, and School of Public Health, whose renowned faculty members are advising the State of Michigan leaders on their COVID-19 pandemic response. We’ve also engaged with hundreds of students to hear their ideas, concerns, and hopes for our fall semester.
Instruction and Student Life
Every U-M school and college is working with our Provost’s Office and health professionals to ensure that our students’ unique academic program needs are met in ways that maximize safety and quality. Generally, large classes will be held remotely, small classes will be held in person, and medium-sized classes will be a hybrid of the two. Classrooms will be configured to provide physical distance for instructors and students. Schools, colleges, and units will work to every extent possible to address any individual concerns, especially with vulnerable members of our community in mind.
Given the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the fall term will be active though different than what our returning students experienced this past spring. Many of the finer points are still to be determined, but we can say that residence halls and dining facilities will be open, albeit with adjustments for physical distancing and other safety measures. Students will also see boxed meal options and staggered timelines for activities like move-in and dining. In the weeks to come, Housing will provide more specific information to students planning to live in the residence halls.
Many on-campus programs and activities will be offered to enhance the college experience and a sense of connection and belonging, including for students who live off campus. We know that an essential aspect of a residential experience is the co-curriculum where students engage meaningfully outside of the classroom. We are committed to students thriving, connecting, practicing skills, and translating their learning in this way.
Michigan Athletics is consulting with the Big Ten and NCAA to determine whether our student athletes can safely compete this fall, and our public health experts are advising us on how we may be able to offer recreational sports opportunities for students. We are studying potential safety changes for our campus bus system, as well.
The Academic Calendar and Learning Experience
Also somewhat modified this fall will be our academic calendar. Classes on the Ann Arbor campus will begin on Aug. 31, 2020, as previously scheduled, but fall break will be eliminated and in-person classes will end Friday, Nov. 20. Classes will resume, but remotely, on Monday, Nov. 30 after a nine-day Thanksgiving break, and will continue until Dec. 8. Finals will run Dec. 10-18. Winter Commencement will be postponed until the spring.
Individual U-M schools and colleges may have different calendars based on factors that include professional training and clinical activities.
This plan lessens the chance that students will travel from and to campus over a break, and helps us limit the spread of the virus. Many of our peer institutions have taken similar steps with their calendars.
Most certainly, a worthwhile and transformative Michigan experience awaits. Our leading scholars, expert staff, and innovative students have been working together this spring to make it so. U-M’s Center for Research on Learning and Teaching and Center for Academic Innovation are providing course design assistance and recommendations, workshops, help with creating instructional communities, and more to support the quality of a U-M education. Our world-renowned faculty will be teaching, leading research, and mentoring students, and their outstanding academic support colleagues, student life professionals, and a myriad of campus staff will be working to nurture the leaders and best.
COVID-19 Safety and Protocols
Above all, it is important that we proceed safely in a world where COVID-19 has not yet been tamed. You can rest assured that our plans are informed by the latest public health guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the State of Michigan, and our U-M experts. Our health and safety officials will continue to monitor the spread of the virus in our community and beyond, in real time, for as long as is needed.
We will deploy multiple layers of safeguards to protect your student’s health and that of our community, including protocols for testing, contact tracing, and quarantining as needed; hand-washing; social distancing; use of hand sanitizer and masks; minimizing out-of-area travel; and reducing classroom and campus density. All this will add up to a highly effective approach to limit the spread of this illness, allowing students to confidently pursue their Michigan education.
Yet if your student has medical issues, is immuno-compromised, or otherwise at risk, you may want to carefully consider the options of attending classes in Ann Arbor or choosing to attend remotely. We respect that these choices are individualized and are committed to providing the highest quality education and experience possible.
To deliver on a residential campus experience, we all have a shared responsibility for safe and healthy behaviors that protect the individual and those around them—classmates, faculty, staff, and our broader community. Many students have a high desire to be on campus as part of their cherished Michigan community, and we are eager to see them living and learning here. As their parents and families, we need your help to reinforce our expectations for your student’s safe behavior.
Students will receive more details throughout the summer on how they can help. Even as we write, a group of student leaders is working to co-create a model of shared responsibility, and we’ll be offering more about that in the coming weeks.
Financial Support for Hardship
Finally, we know that some families have endured unexpected financial hardships due to the pandemic. If your family has suffered a significant and prolonged decline in family income, and has a current Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on file, your student can request a review of their financial aid eligibility by contacting the Office of Financial Aid at 734-763-6600 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to Find Out More
This is a great deal of new information and you may have questions. Your family is invited to explore, at your convenience, more details on the new Campus Maize & BluePrint website. You are also encouraged to sign up for the monthly Family Matters newsletter from Student Life, which provides helpful updates to both new and continuing student families.
We are proud of our Wolverines and their potential to positively impact their future world. Thank you for your steadfast support of your student, and the University of Michigan—the nation’s top public research university. Here’s to a healthy and engaging fall semester!
Simone Himbeault Taylor, Interim Vice President for Student Life
Kedra Ishop, Vice Provost for Enrollment Management