University of Michigan to resume in-person classes Jan. 5, with added precautions

Officials continue to monitor spread of omicron, delta variants

The University of Michigan Union. (Sarah M. Parlette / WDIV)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The University of Michigan will resume in-person classes starting Jan. 5, with additional COVID safety precautions in place.

“We are prioritizing student learning, the pedagogical needs of our academic programs and the enriching classroom interactions that can’t be fully replicated remotely,” U of M President Mark Schlissel said in an email.

The message said Michigan’s plan to resume in-person classes was based, in part, due to high vaccination levels and mask compliance during the fall semester.

University officials said they’ll keep monitoring the spread of the omicron and delta variants.

“In addition, our classrooms -- with required vaccination and masking -- have remained safe throughout the pandemic,” the message from Schlissel and Provost Susan M. Collins said. “Therefore, in Ann Arbor, we do not believe an initial period of remote education will significantly diminish spread of COVID-19.

“In recognition of the activity of COVID-19 locally and nationally, however, we will implement additional public health measures with the goal of limiting spread of the omicron variant virus and continuing our important work.”

Here are some of the additional health and safety measures in place:

  • A COVID-19 vaccine booster is required for all students, faculty and staff on all three campuses, including Michigan Medicine. The deadline for reporting is Feb. 4, 2022, with details on how to report coming soon. “We urge you to get boosted as soon as you are eligible,” the president and provost wrote, noting that a booster increases protection against symptomatic infection with omicron to about 75 percent.
  • All students living in a campus residence hall must get a COVID-19 test upon arrival through U-M’s Community Sampling and Tracking Program.
  • Students must wear face coverings in the common areas of residence halls and in Recreation Sports facilities, at least through Jan. 17, 2022. The U-M indoor and transit mask requirement will remain in effect.
  • Starting Jan. 1, 2022, everyone attending ticketed events, including on-campus performances and athletic events, must show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours. More details will be shared soon. For the U-M community, vaccination verification can be done through the ResponsiBLUE app.
  • U-M is strongly encouraging all students, faculty and staff, regardless of vaccination status, to get tested if they have traveled over the winter break. Most U-M employees return to work Jan. 3 following the break.
  • The university also is recommending that food or drink not be served at on-campus gatherings to minimize the need to remove face coverings.

These additional protocols are designed “to provide the best possible educational experiences for our students as safely as we can and largely in-person,” the email message said.

“Over the break, some of us have experienced holiday events where family members were unable to attend due to testing positive for COVID-19,” Collins and Schlissel said. “The more-rapid spread of the omicron variant, now the dominant strain in the United States, means that greater case numbers are likely here, as they have been around the state and nation.

“These cases seem to be milder than earlier in the pandemic, and those who are vaccinated and boosted almost never get seriously ill. We ask for everyone’s continued vigilance and care as we tackle this next phase of the pandemic. Both of these qualities were essential to our fall term’s success.”

About the Author:

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.