UM-Dearborn lays out its plan for a ‘hybrid’ fall semester

June 22, 2020

To do its part in the fight against COVID-19 and protect its students, faculty and staff, the university is planning for a ‘remote-first’ approach to the fall. Here’s what that will look like.

We know you’ve been waiting patiently for details about the fall semester, and this week, university leaders released a plan that sketches out many of the big ones. The biggest of all is that UM-Dearborn is planning for a “hybrid” fall semester. This means classes that can be taught remotely without any compromises to quality will be taught in that format, with some classes having scheduled times for students to gather, either virtually or in-person. Other classes, like labs, senior design and other courses requiring a high-level of student interaction or special equipment, will be taught in person using additional health and safety protocols, including mask wearing and reconfigured classrooms that enable social distancing. The university is also taking additional steps to ensure accessibility and mitigate uneven impacts on students due to this temporary change in instruction.

Another big change involves the academic calendar. Classes will  begin, as scheduled, on September 1 and will continue through November 21. The university will then have an extended Thanksgiving break through November 29, after which students will not return to campus. The rest of the semester, including exams, will be conducted remotely for all courses. The university is still evaluating options for the December Commencement ceremony, which is scheduled for December 19. Leadership will share plans for the Winter 2021 semester by October 1. 

“Our region and state have made significant progress in helping to control the spread of COVID-19,” says Chancellor Domenico Grasso. “UM-Dearborn is located in the center of our state’s hardest hit area. For this reason, we are taking extra measures to provide a healthy and safe learning and teaching environment for our community. We will also prioritize our obligation to the broader community to do all that we can to ensure that we don’t contribute to the community spread of COVID-19. Only by joining together and applying the best health practices can we accomplish this goal.”

Other important changes: Campus Life activities at the university will continue with a remote-first approach. All student services will be available, with most interactions, programs and engagement handled virtually, when possible. The Mardigian Library will be open for lobby service for UM-Dearborn students, faculty and staff only starting on September 1. The library plans to reopen common areas in phases, following campus guidelines for safety. The university has also decided not to participate in NAIA Fall 2020 athletic competitions, and the Wellness Center on campus will remain closed for the entire Fall 2020 semester. 

For the time being, all staff and faculty who can work remotely still must do so, and the university will continue to gradually and carefully resume various on-campus activities as conditions allow. The university has also launched a website detailing the fall plan, which will be updated regularly as more details are finalized. Because the COVID-19 situation is still very fluid, aspects of the plan could change and the university already has contingency plans in the event of a second wave.

University leaders are hosting a virtual town hall this week to answer questions faculty and staff may have about the fall plan, enrollment expectations and new information about our FY21 budget. Registration for the Thursday, June 25, 1 p.m. event is required to get a meeting invite with a secure link. In mid-July, university leaders will host a virtual town hall for students.

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