Dear Colleagues,

We are writing with news regarding the winter 2021 semester. You may review the highlights below.

BLUF:  Bottom Line Up Front 

  • The Winter 2021 semester will continue in a hybrid format; we expect less than 12 percent of classes will be delivered in person
  • The semester will start on Wednesday, January 13 (adjusted from Wednesday, January 6) and the winter recess (spring break) has been eliminated
  • All courses will be taught online from Wednesday, January 13 through Friday, February 26
  • Starting Monday, March 1 - if the COVID-19 pandemic conditions permit - classes scheduled for an in-person modality will be taught on campus
  • Classes end on Tuesday, April 20 
  • Final exams are held Thursday, April 22 - Wednesday, April 28. Faculty teaching on- campus classes will have the option to conduct on-campus final exams. All other final exams will be conducted remotely
  • We expect that all of the health and safety measures currently in place to keep the campus community safe will continue throughout the winter 2021 semester

COVID-19 continues to present significant challenges to the health and safety of our campus community. Throughout the duration of the global pandemic, University of Michigan-Dearborn faculty and staff have maintained a commitment to the university’s mission while keeping our community safe and healthy. Although the challenges presented by COVID-19 have made this fall different from previous ones, we continue to provide a distinguished Michigan education to all our students.

On June 22, we announced that our fall 2020 semester would be a hybrid educational experience with the majority of classes taught in a remote format with classes only taught in-person, on-campus, if required to provide the academic excellence expected at UM-Dearborn. We’ve instituted a number of health and safety protocols that are working to ensure a safe learning environment. The university, continues to work to ensure accessibility and ameliorate potential unequal impacts on students during this change in instruction. 

Thus far, our plans have been successful, the amount of thoughtful work that went into teaching and learning plans for this semester has paid off, with the university reducing overall density on-campus with only eight percent of courses being taught in-person. Faculty, staff and students that must be on campus for work or class have been following safety guidelines and we have seen a limited number of positive cases among our campus community. We again want to recognize the adaptability, resilience and commitment to excellence of our faculty, staff and students - what you have been able to accomplish is remarkable. 

Unfortunately, COVID-19 continues to spread. While the current mitigation factors do make a difference, in the absence of therapeutics, a vaccine and of sufficient, cost-effective, timely testing and contact-tracing infrastructure, we are not able to return to normal activities. 

Guided by public health experts, we are writing today to share that UM-Dearborn will continue with our hybrid approach through the winter 2021 semester. We will continue our focus on keeping campus density low and academic excellence high. The U-M Regents today have approved a shift in our academic calendar to minimize the potential spread of COVID-19 to the broader community. These plans reflect our continued commitment to promoting public health, outstanding teaching and an excellent learning environment. We are hopeful that the early announcement of these plans will allow the campus community to plan accordingly and maximize the opportunity for student success by minimizing disruption of our winter scheduling and registration processes. 

The primary components of our winter 2021 semester plan are described below. As we move through the fall additional details will be shared. Remember, you can always find all of the current information on our Go Safe - Go Blue - Go Dearborn! website. All teaching, learning and return-to-work plans are being developed with contingency scenarios should the campus need to pivot due to COVID-19 developments.

Until further notice, all staff and faculty who can work remotely must continue to do so. Our previously announced strategy to gradually and carefully resume various on-campus activities will continue as designed. 

Continuing the Hybrid Model
UM-Dearborn’s winter 2021 semester will continue the hybrid approach of remote and in-person teaching. Like the fall, classes will only be taught remotely if an excellent quality education can be delivered in that format. Some classes will require scheduled times for students to gather, either virtually or in-person on campus. Others, such as labs, senior design and similar courses that require a high-level of student interaction or special equipment, will meet in-person on campus employing all appropriate and relevant public health precautions. We expect less than 12 percent of classes will be delivered in person. Diversity, equity and inclusion will remain an important component of course design. 

Winter 2021 Academic Calendar
The winter academic calendar will shift to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 amongst the campus and broader community. Especially during a time that seasonal factors threaten to accelerate the disease’s progression, rather than slow it.

  • The semester will start on Wednesday, January 13 (adjusted from Wednesday, January 6) and the winter recess (spring break) has been eliminated
  • All courses will be taught online from Wednesday, January 13 through Friday, February 26
  • Starting Monday, March 1 - if the COVID-19 pandemic conditions permit - classes scheduled for an in-person modality will be taught on campus
  • Classes end on Tuesday, April 20 
  • Final exams are held Thursday, April 22 - Wednesday, April 28. Faculty teaching on-campus classes will have the option to conduct on-campus final exams. All other final exams will be conducted remotely
  • A decision regarding the spring 2021 commencement will be announced in January 2021

Health Protocols
We expect that all of the health and safety measures currently in place to keep the campus community safe will continue throughout the winter 2021 semester. 

Campus Experience 
The university is committed to providing our students with a vibrant student experience and Campus Life activities will continue with a remote-first approach. All student services will be available, with most interactions, programs and engagement handled virtually. As we approach the start of the winter semester we will share additional information regarding any planned changes to operations at the Mardigian Library, University Center, including food service, the Bookstore, Credit Union and with university events. 

Athletics
Additional information will be shared separately regarding winter 2021 NAIA athletic competitions; athletic training, practice and competitions, as well as the Wellness Center. 

Mission First, People Always
We are proud and thankful for the work everyone has done to maintain UM-Dearborn’s mission to provide an excellent education for our students during the fall 2020 semester. Our community has shown remarkable resilience throughout this global health crisis. As winter semester 2021 approaches, we know that additional questions will arise as we apply lessons learned from this fall. UM-Dearborn leadership remains committed to transparency, collaboration and communication.  

Guided by the advice of public health professionals, UM-Dearborn will continue to hold paramount the well-being of our students, faculty and staff while not compromising the quality of our education. We will also prioritize our obligation to the broader community by doing all that we can to limit the spread of COVID-19 in southeast Michigan.

We should look towards the future with optimism. We are doing great work on behalf of our students and we are providing them with a learning environment that will lead to great opportunities. 

Go Safe - Go Blue - Go Dearborn!

Domenico Grasso
Chancellor

Sue Alcock
Provost 

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