What to know about the University's plan for winter semester

Friday, November 6, 2020 - 11:11am

The University released plans for the winter 2021 semester on Friday.

The University released plans for the winter 2021 semester on Friday. Buy this photo
Maddie Fox/Daily

On Friday, the University released plans for the winter 2021 semester. Here’s what you need to know.

What does this mean for housing?

Undergraduate students currently living in the residence halls will have their housing contracts canceled. To live on-campus next year, they will have to apply for housing. The University has listed health concerns, financial and academic needs, international status, employment as Housing ResStaff and other extenuating circumstances as potential justifications for living in the dorms. The University will only house one student per room in residence halls. The specific process for reapplying will be shared with on-campus students. Graduate and professional students can continue living in their current housing because of low case numbers in their communities.

Most undergraduates, including those living off-campus, are strongly encouraged to stay at their permanent residences and access instruction remotely.

Will there still be in-person classes?

Yes, but only classes more effectively taught in person or essential to licensure will meet in person, continuing with the University’s guidance since the stay-in-place order. No instructor will be required to teach in person. There will be fewer hybrid classes because of feedback from instructors on the format’s difficulty. 

What will COVID-19 testing look like?

Undergrads living in residence halls, attending in-person classes or activities, using U-M buildings, working or doing research on campus will undergo mandatory weekly testing. Other students, faculty and staff will have access to weekly asymptomatic testing. Residence halls will require students to test negative for COVID-19 before moving in or out. Overall, the University said there will be “major increases in asymptomatic testing for all members of the campus community.”

How will public health policies be enforced?

The University will take a stricter, no-tolerance approach to public health policy violations. Gatherings of three or more in residence halls will result in automatic probation, and students who violate policies in quarantine or isolation housing will have their housing contract terminated. Off-campus students who violate COVID-19 restrictions will be referred to the Office of Student Conflict Resolution and/or the Washtenaw County Health Department.

Will there be a spring break?

While Spring Break is still canceled for the Winter 2021 semester, the University will have two mid-week, one day “well-being breaks” on Feb. 24 and March 23 without any scheduled academic activities. 

Will the University buildings still be open?

Yes, the libraries, Unions and recreational sports buildings will remain open in the winter semester, though hours will be modified. Lounge spaces in University Housing will be available through reservation-only.

Will the dining halls offer dine-in services?

No. Dining halls will continue to offer “grab-and-go” dining only. 

What mental health resources will be offered?

Counseling and Psychological Services will expand their staff by eight new counselors to combat long wait times. Wolverine Wellness and CAPS will continue to offer their services virtually. Student Life will also offer a wide range of virtual extracurricular programs and events related to health and well-being.

Why did the University change course from the fall semester?

University President Mark Schlissel wrote that the fall semester saw an “unacceptable level of COVID-19 cases among” undergraduate students that threatened to strain public health capacity. The top concerns moving forward are the cold and flu season and colder weather that may move people to congregate indoors, as well as the surge of COVID-19 cases across the state and country. While the stay-in-place order reduced student cases in Washtenaw County, they remain high overall with a weekly test positivity rate of around 4%. The University also cited community feedback including continued requests for more testing, public health guidance and lessons from the current semester.

Daily Staff Reporters Jasmin Lee, Calder Lewis and Dominic Coletti can be reached at itsshlee@umich.edu, calderll@umich.edu and dcoletti@umich.edu


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