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University of Michigan announces fall semester plans -- new dates, in-person classes, breaks canceled

Fall semester to begin Aug. 31

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The University of Michigan has announced its plans for the fall semester, including in-person and remote classes, a new academic calendar, the elimination of breaks and changes centered around preventing the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

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“I am pleased to announce that the University of Michigan plans to offer a public health-informed in-residence semester this fall,” President Mark Schlissel said.

Fall semester: Important dates, academic calendar

Michigan will begin the fall semester at the Ann Arbor campus on Aug. 31 with a combination of in-person and remote classes, Schlissel announced Monday.

University of Michigan academic calendar: Here are the new dates for fall, winter semesters

On-campus classes will end at Thanksgiving to minimize student travel home and back to campus. That means the last day of in-person classes for the fall semester will be Nov. 20.

After a nine-day Thanksgiving break, classes will resume remotely Nov. 30 and continue until Dec. 8, with final exams running from Dec. 10 through Dec. 18, the university announced.

Fall academic calendar dates:

  • Start date: Aug. 31
  • In-person classes end: Nov. 20
  • Thanksgiving break: Nov. 21 through Nov. 29
  • Remote classes: Nov. 30 through Dec. 8
  • Final exams: Dec. 10 through Dec. 18

Professional schools and colleges might have different calendars based on their program requirements.

The winter semester will start later in January, university officials said.

MORE: 12 changes U of M students will notice this school year due to COVID-19

There will not be fall or winter breaks this year, according to Schlissel.

Officials said there will not be a December commencement ceremony, but those graduates are invited to participate in the spring ceremonies, which have not yet been changed.

Winter semester: Important dates, academic calendar

For the winter term, classes will begin Jan. 19, immediately after the university’s Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium on Jan. 18.

The later start is designed to create time for any necessary public health protocols before students return to campus.

Winter break will be eliminated and final exams will run from April 22 through April 29, officials said.

Winter academic calendar dates:

  • Start date: Jan. 19
  • Final exams: April 22 through April 29

These new semester calendars are designed to reduce the amount of back-and-forth travel for students. Many peer institutions have taken similar steps with their calendars, U of M officials said.

Looking forward

All university staff and faculty who can work from home will continue to do so for now as the university gradually and carefully resumes some on-campus activities.

Schlissel said the “thoughtful and deliberate efforts of hundreds of members of the U-M community” have resulted in the university’s plan to resume classes amid the pandemic.

“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,” Schlissel said. “The pandemic won’t change our commitment to the members of our community.”

Schlissel said the plan depends on every member of the community following basic public health strategies, including social distancing, minimizing out-of-area travel, wearing face coverings, washing hands frequently, symptom screening and quarantining, when needed.

He said the university will continue or strengthen actions such as clinical testing, contact tracing, cleaning and real-time monitoring of the spread of the virus.

“We will protect our students, faculty and staff with a broad array of research-based public health measures and tools,” Schlissel said. “We will make full use of our longstanding excellence in teaching and learning, both in person and online, and tap our innovative spirit to deliver a world-class Michigan educational experience in these most unusual times. And we will ask all of you to join in prudent health and safety actions that will embody our commitment to caring for one another.”

How classes will work

Students on the Ann Arbor campus will be able to choose from a full set of courses, Schlissel said.

Courses will be offered in-person, remotely and with mixed instruction, depending on curricular needs.

“Some students will choose or need to take all their classes remotely, and the university’s 19 schools and colleges will provide a robust set of fully remote classes that will enable most students to make that choice,” the university announced in a release.

Although not all courses will be available in every format, most students will be able to choose whether to return to Ann Arbor for a hybrid learning experience or study from home in a fully remote mode, Schlissel said.

Decisions about which courses and sections to offer in which formats will be made by schools, colleges and departments.

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Generally, large classes will be conducted remotely while small classes will be in-person and medium classes will be a hybrid of the two, according to officials.

“We know that many faculty, staff and students have concerns about returning to in-person learning, teaching and work,” Sclissel said. “We’re continuing to develop plans to protect vulnerable members of our community—and will encourage students and employees with high levels of risk to teach, learn and support our mission remotely.

“Schools, colleges and units will work with individuals to every extent possible to address their concerns. We know that the pandemic has differential impacts on our communities.”

Campus experience

Residence halls and dining facilities will be open around campus, and Michigan Housing will reserve some units to serve as quarantine housing, as needed, school officials said.

Dining hall capacity will be reduced and more boxed meals will be offered.

Most students live in communal settings, whether in residence halls or in off-campus houses and apartments, officials said. Conceptually, these settings resemble “family units,” and all students will be expected to follow public health guidelines just as they would when living in their permanent residences, the university announced.

University officials are working with students to define a shared commitment to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

Many educational programs, activities and learning experiences are being adjusted to serve students during the pandemic. For example, students were allowed to participate in community engagement and career skills activities this summer after many internships were canceled.

Public health experts are advising university leaders on how to safely offer recreational sports for students.

Students also will notice changes such as physical distancing requirements in libraries and other common spaces and buildings, limited access to certain areas, additional cleaning, boxed meals and staggered timelines for activities, such as move-in and dining.

Students planning to live in residence halls will receive more specific information from Michigan Housing, and plans for fall will be shared in the weeks ahead, according to the release.

A group of experts is examining potential safety changes for the campus bus system.

Safety measures

The university will purchase more hand sanitizer, masks and other forms of personal protective equipment to keep the university community safe, officials said.

Students, faculty and staff members will be urged to get seasonal flu shots and stay home when they feel sick. Everyone should closely monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19 and other illnesses.

Plans and protocols for students and staff members who get infected with COVID-19 are being finalized, university officials said. U of M is building capacity for increased contact tracing.

Faculty and staff members will be able to do health screenings on their phones via a university website. The new tool will make returning to campus smoother and safer, officials said. It is expected to be available this week.


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