University plans for in-residence fall semester
The University of Michigan announced on Monday some in-person classes will resume on all three campuses this fall. However, all classes will be delivered remotely after Nov. 20 and fall break is canceled, according to an announcement from University President Mark Schlissel. The winter semester will begin Jan. 19, 2021, Schlissel wrote in an email.
“Thanks to the thoughtful and deliberate efforts of hundreds of members of the U-M community, our cautious optimism about the fall has coalesced into a path forward,” Schlissel wrote. “Their work has given me confidence that we can do this safely, and we will continue to plan and prepare in the months ahead. We now have the opportunity to begin a new journey together, equipped with the very best guidance and ideas from our leading scholars, innovative students and expert staff.”
Other updates to the calendar include the elimination of spring break, resulting in continuous class sessions from Jan. 19 to April 20, with finals running April 22-29.
The University launched a Campus Maize and Blueprint website that contains information and updates regarding reopening for all three campuses and Michigan Medicine. According to the website, students will be expected to wear face coverings in public spaces and indoor social gatherings are limited to 10 people.
For the Ann Arbor campus, larger lectures will be delivered remotely in the fall. Smaller discussions will be held in person, and medium-size classes will be a hybrid of the two. Individual schools, colleges and departments of the University will determine these decisions.
According to the announcement, the University will open on-campus housing. However, there will be social distancing requirements in shared spaces and move-in times have been extended from three days to at least seven. For those living on-campus, students are expected to self-quarantine for 14 days before moving in.
Students can expect to have a roommate, however are not expected to social distance within their own rooms. For students with pre-existing health conditions, there are limited single rooms still available, according to the website.
Dining halls will also be reopened with reduced capacity to accommodate social distancing requirements. Students will have the option to either place a dine-in reservation online or obtain a take out meal.
The University is finalizing a testing protocol when students arrive on campus and throughout the semester. Facilities will be set aside for students who test positive or come in close contact with COVID-19 to quarantine.
Planning for the fall semester will continue to be guided by the advice of medical and public health experts, Schlissel wrote. In an April 29 interview with The Daily, Schlissel said the fall semester is unlikely to be normal and shared steps University community members might need to take to return to campus.
“We can mitigate risk (by) wearing masks and making sure that people, if they’re not well, stay home,” Schlissel said.
In a May 24 interview with the Wall Street Journal, Schlissel said the decision on the fall semester would likely carry over through the entire academic year. He noted public health concerns may only be exacerbated in the winter flu season.
“What’s going to be different in January?” Schlissel said.
Six committees of faculty and staff have been planning details of an in-person fall semester since the beginning of May, according to a May 1 email from University Provost Susan Collins.
“Their work, along with the vital work being done by faculty and staff in the schools and colleges, will be critical to our decisions about how we will offer a Michigan education to all our students in the fall term,” Collins wrote.
The University faces losses between $400 million to $1 billion for the fiscal year, according to an April 20 email to the University community from Schlissel. The University since eliminated non-essential expenditures, instituted a hiring freeze, reduced leadership salaries and implemented a voluntary staff furlough program. Schlissel told The Daily in an April 29 interview about 70 percent of University revenue comes from tuition.
“We’re dependent on tuition for everything,” Schlissel said. “If there’s no tuition, then there are no faculty, there are no staff, there’s no one to keep the lights on. There’s no way around that.”
The University is expected to discuss fall semester tuition at the the Board of Regents meeting on June 25.
Summer News Editor Calder Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org