Important COVID-19 updates: finals, commencement, flexible work arrangements

March 13, 2020

This communication summarizes information regarding protecting personnel health and university operations.

Dear Colleagues, 

Thank you for your understanding, assistance, adaptability and patience as our campus community works through how to best manage the impact of the global coronavirus pandemic facing us. 

Bottom Line Up Front 

This communication summarizes information regarding protecting personnel health and university operations:

  • All managers are encouraged to provide opportunities for employees to work remotely when possible, while keeping their units open for business
  • A one-time, paid time off bank for employees has been created 
  • Final exams will be conducted remotely
  • Commencement is cancelled, Spring Open House and other events have been postponed or canceled
  • Non-essential on-campus activities have been altered to minimize health risk 

To be clear, the health and safety of our students, staff and faculty is our highest priority as we navigate through this public health challenge. The decision to deliver classroom instruction remotely was made in the best interest of the campus community.

Our second priority is the continuity of campus operations. We must maintain a high level of service for our students, prospective students and all campus constituents. 

UM-Dearborn is open and will remain open at this time. Please note that individual buildings and offices on campus may have modified hours of operation or adjusted methods of service delivery, please contact the individual office websites for additional information. 

We encourage staff to think of creative and innovative ways to continue university operations and think about ideas shared in the strategic planning process or Thought Leader sessions that may apply to our current situation. 

The Details


UM-Dearborn senior leaders and deans have discussed at length how to best staff departments to support students and the campus community. We are asking each vice chancellor and dean to develop a staffing plan that allows the colleges, units and departments to remain open with reduced staff working on-campus. We ask for college or unit staffing plans by end-of-day Friday, March 13, developed in keeping with the following guidelines.

Please remember the decisions to move to remote delivery of instruction was intended to reduce the number of people coming in close contact with one another. Minimal physical staffing plans align with the thinking behind the decision to move to remote delivery of instruction.  

Vice chancellors and deans should do the following:

  • Note that the health and safety of our staff is important and will be factored into staffing decisions. As a reminder, if employees are sick they should not be working on campus or remotely. 
  • Ensure we can provide the same level of service to students, prospective students and others as if we were operating under traditional circumstances. Vice chancellors, deans and their reporting teams should all plan to have their offices open and staffed between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday – Friday or their regular business hours. Those who regularly work on Saturday and Sunday should discuss weekend schedules with their supervisors.
  • Supervisors will determine on-campus staffing, such as the number of staff required to be in the office, rotation of hours or days, etc. While each unit should proactively identify how many functions can move to a remote delivery modality, you must ensure at least a minimal physical staff presence. This number and location of staff on campus must be adequate to maintain unit functionality. Whoever is staffing the unit must be prepared to be able to direct any and all inquiries in the appropriate direction. Posting clear and highly visible signage to direct people to the location where those on-campus staff will be located is strongly recommended.  
  • Remind staff that working remotely requires an expectation of productivity, responsiveness and the ability to be readily available during established work hours.
  • Staff should remain in a location that, if called back to campus, they can return in a reasonable amount of time. 
  • These plans will be in place until further notice. 

Vice chancellors and deans have been asked to treat their student workers and work-study students like staff, meaning allowing them both to perform job responsibilities at home or assist with on campus needs.

The Office of Human Resources has staffing guidelines to assist vice chancellors and deans with the development of their plans. Please contact your Human Resources Consultant if you would like or need assistance.  

ITS is available to meet with departments to instruct and assist staff with their remote working needs. To schedule these consultations, please respond to this brief survey/form or reach out to the Service Center at 3-HELP (313-593-4367) or Also, please consult this website for specific information and instructions on technology tools.

One-time, paid time off bank for employees during coronavirus pandemic

To further minimize the impact of coronavirus, the university has established a one-time, paid time off bank related to the pandemic.

Effective immediately, employees are eligible for up to 80 hours of paid time off to be used in the case of quarantine, isolation or family care needs related to coronavirus exposure, illness or other related scenario or a temporary lack of work. This is a one-time bank of paid time off for use during the current pandemic.

This one-time, paid time off bank applies to faculty and staff on all campuses and in Michigan Medicine. Part-time and temporary employees, including student temporary staff, will be eligible for a prorated amount of time.

More details about the policy and how to access this bank of time will soon be available on the University Human Resources website or you can contact the Dearborn human resources office. 


There has been much discussion about campus events. Out of abundance of caution and care for our community, the decision was made today that, effective immediately, all events that can potentially compromise the health and safety of the campus and/or are not essential to the continuity of operations will be postponed until further notice, regardless of the number of attendees. 

All final exams will take place remotely in alternative formats. This essentially extends our previous action to prevent all classes from meeting in person. Faculty and instructors will communicate how this will be handled as soon as possible. As a reminder, classes remain canceled today but will resume Monday, March 16, delivered remotely in alternative formats. Students will not be required to come to campus for instruction or exams.

Regretfully, Spring 2020 Commencement scheduled for April 26 has been canceled. We know that this will be very disappointing to many, and we are identifying ways to celebrate 2020 graduates in the future. 

Spring Open House scheduled for May 2 has been postponed. 

We would highly encourage you to explore options for alternative event formats if possible. We realize that many of the events over this time period were intended as celebratory in nature, and we will be developing creative ideas for honoring and recognizing student, faculty, and staff achievements.

If you have an event or meeting booked through University Union and Events, they will be canceling the booking as well as canceling any food orders or other associated services.  Therefore, you do NOT need to take any action; this will be handled for you. Senior leaders and deans will work with event organizers regarding the financial implications of this decision. 

What is closed on campus 

Due to proximity and the presence of perspiration and other bodily fluids, the Fieldhouse (Wellness Center, ice arena and gymnasium) will close effective immediately.  

All athletic competitions, practices, and events are canceled until at least April 17.

The Environmental Interpretive Center has canceled all external events and visits from K-12 partners until at least April 17. 

The Early Childhood Education Center will be closing at 5:00 p.m. today and will remain closed until further notice. 

Minimizing risk

Avoid gathering socially in large groups. Gathering in large groups is not recommended -- and this includes gathering socially. Reducing the density of people in physical spaces will help to prevent the spread of disease within our community and for society at large. 

These actions are based on general public health principles recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. They are designed to protect everyone in our communities, particularly those at higher risk from coronavirus.

There are everyday actions we can all take to help prevent the spread of all respiratory viruses:

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Consider alternatives to shaking hands.
  • Unless you are sick with cough, sneezing and fever, it is not advised to wear a mask.

We acknowledge this is a trying and stressful time for many, with many of us in unprecedented territory. While the university has plans for crisis and disruption of operations, actual events present unanticipated challenges and unknowns. Our health professionals are monitoring the spread of the virus and working closely with public health officials at the federal, state and local levels to protect health and safety. We will continue to post the latest information to our coronavirus information page and university leadership will provide updates going forward.

If you have any specific questions regarding this communication, we encourage you to speak with your immediate supervisor. 

Thank you for all that you do. We will continue to communicate frequently and as information changes.


Mark S. Schlissel, M.D., Ph.D. 

Domenico Grasso, Ph.D.