Earlier today, the University of Michigan announced plans for a more traditional in-person and residential fall semester for the Ann Arbor campus. For this special edition of Family Matters, U-M President Mark S. Schlissel is sharing the announcement with you.
You may also view the Campus Maize and Blueprint site for the latest COVID-19 updates.
Dear Parents and Families,
I want to let you know that we are planning for a return to a more traditional in-person and residential fall semester for our Ann Arbor campus. We will teach most classes in person, and have greater occupancy in our residence halls, in-person dining and student support services, and some continuing precautions to maximize health and safety for our university community.
I know that you and your students have been eagerly awaiting this announcement, and I appreciate your patience and engagement with us as we have worked out our plans. The full message I sent to the U-M community is available on my website, as well.
Our plans are based on the hopeful trends of decreasing COVID-19 cases and increased vaccine supply. We are presuming that any of our faculty, graduate student instructors and staff who wish to be vaccinated will have access to vaccination before the semester, and that a significant fraction of our students will have been vaccinated by then as well.
We strongly encourage students to be vaccinated this spring and summer at home or in Ann Arbor when supplies are available. If the levels of vaccination exceed these expectations, we will adjust as the fall semester progresses by further increasing in-person activities and relaxing public health measures.
At today’s Campus COVID-19 Briefing, we shared information about our plans for the fall and the ongoing engagement with our community that will take place as more certainties emerge and our plans progress. Additional details are here, and the main points include:
- Most moderate to small classes, seminars and discussion sections will be taught in-person, while most large lecture classes will continue to be offered remotely. There could be variations by school and college for pedagogical purposes.
- Our residence halls will have greater occupancy. All new students can be confident they will be able to live on campus this fall and we will accommodate as many others as conditions allow. We project overall capacity will be nearly 80 percent, including undergraduate and graduate students. Campus dining will offer in-person dining, as well as meals to go.
- Our services and facilities will be open with larger in-person capacities, including libraries, museums, University Unions, recreation facilities, and performance venues.
- Many student-facing services, such as advising, will offer in-person support with safety measures in place, while continuing to maintain remote options, and student organizations will be able to resume many of their in-person activities.
- Fall welcome activities will be expanded and enhanced to assure all new students have the opportunity to engage with the campus community and learn about the expectations and traditions of being a U-M student.
- Second-year students who missed most of the traditional rites of arrival last fall will be intentionally included in fall welcome activities, campus traditions and other events that are being designed to make fall 2021 special for all students.
Most decisions about courses will be made for pedagogical reasons, in schools and colleges. That is part of the work we will be finalizing in the weeks and months ahead.
Recent developments and trends are bolstering our optimism and indicate significantly lower risk. A third highly effective and safe COVID-19 vaccine has been approved, President Biden has called for all adults to be eligible for vaccination by May 1, we’re seeing fewer cases on campus and across the nation, and forecasts for hospitalizations are decreasing. Though a definitive vaccine timeline continues to evolve, we can expect that by the end of the summer, the vast majority of our adult community will be vaccinated, and we will be moving quickly to a safer environment.
We’ll also be prepared to change if necessary, and please know that as conditions change and more certainties emerge throughout the coming months, we will continue to discuss those developments.
Earlier this week, Michigan Athletics announced that plans are underway to bring back fans for our sporting events in the fall. I also hope that we can resume live performances in our various arts venues on campus. These are a few of the many features of our university that we are working to restore in an innovative and safe fashion, to promote a more traditional feel to the upcoming fall semester in Ann Arbor.
I appreciate you and your students’ dedication and the sacrifices you have made throughout this pandemic. Thank you so much.
Mark S. Schlissel, M.D., Ph.D.