Following Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order requiring all “non-essential” businesses to cease operations and residents to stay home, Mark Schlissel, president of the University of Michigan, notified the community in an email Monday afternoon that spring and summer term classes will take place remotely through online platforms.
Schlissel said all schools and colleges at the University should work to ensure that students are able to meet graduation requirements despite classes being moved to an online format. He noted certain programs cannot be delivered adequately online and may have to be canceled for the spring and summer terms.
“This decision aligns with our ongoing efforts to respond to the pandemic, by maintaining this critical part of our mission while encouraging social distancing,” Schlissel wrote. “In conjunction with our provost’s offices, I ask schools and colleges to prioritize offering programs and coursework that allows current students to keep working toward their degrees and not fall behind.”
Schlissel said the University will continue to provide services like dining hall take-out meals to those who remain on-campus or in residence halls.
The decision to cancel spring and summer term classes comes after the University ordered all research laboratories to “ramp down” research projects that are not related to COVID-19. With the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order, all University employees are required to work from home unless their on-campus work is considered essential to the University’s mission to slow the spread of the virus.
At a press conference Monday, Whitmer said the order was enacted to promote responsible social distancing as confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue to grow. The executive order, which asks that Michigan residents not leave their homes unless absolutely necessary, is planned to remain in place for at least three weeks.
“Please know that even with today’s action, the number of cases will go up yet today, tomorrow and the days ahead. It will take some time for us to impact this,” Whitmer said. “We will be continually evaluating the science, the data, the impact on your health. It is going to take greater testing. We made strides, but we must do more so we can understand the challenges that we are confronting. So we can draw based on data.”
Currently, there are over 1,000 diagnosed cases of COVID-19 in Michigan and 15 confirmed deaths. On Sunday, the first death in Washtenaw County was recorded at Michigan Medicine.
Symptoms of the coronavirus include fever, cough and shortness of breath. People who believe they have been exposed to coronavirus should call their health care providers or the nearest hospital. Individuals can also contact their local health department, which in Washtenaw County can be reached at 734-544-6700.
Daily News Editor Liat Weinstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.