University of Michigan-Dearborn announces plans for a public health informed fall 2020 semester

June 22, 2020

Plans include a hybrid semester with many classes in a remote format, a shift in the academic calendar and a continued focus on remote engagement opportunities for students.

Chancellor's Pond in the fall

University of Michigan-Dearborn will take a hybrid approach to the fall 2020 semester with many classes held in a remote format, while also providing select in-person experiences on campus, a shift in the academic calendar and a continued focus on remote engagement opportunities for our students. The university’s plans are structured to reflect a commitment to promoting public health, outstanding teaching and an excellent learning environment.

“Throughout the duration of the global pandemic, UM-Dearborn faculty and staff have maintained a commitment to the university’s mission while keeping our community safe and healthy,” said Domenico Grasso, chancellor, University of Michigan-Dearborn. “Our plans to reopen some campus operations have been developed  in conjunction with public health and many other professionals. Although the challenges presented by COVID-19 will make the fall semester unique from previous ones, we will continue to provide a distinguished Michigan education to our students.”

UM-Dearborn’s fall 2020 semester will blend remote and in-person teaching. Classes will be taught remotely only if an excellent quality education can be delivered in this format. Some classes will require scheduled times for students to gather, either virtually or in-person on campus. Identified classes, such as labs, senior design and other courses that require a high-level of student interaction or special equipment, will meet in-person on campus through November 21.

Shifts to the academic calendar have been made to reduce travel to and from campus to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The semester will begin, as scheduled, on September 1 and will continue through November 21. The university will have an extended Thanksgiving break from November 22 - November 29. Students will not return to campus following the break as all courses and exams will be conducted remotely through the end of the semester. The university is still evaluating options for the December Commencement ceremony, currently scheduled for December 19. Plans for the winter 2021 semester will be shared with the campus community by October 1, 2020.

“UM-Dearborn faculty will incorporate diversity, equity and inclusion considerations into their course design to ensure accessibility and to mitigate any unequal impacts on students while planning for fall instruction,” said Susan E. Alcock, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs. “The student experience at UM-Dearborn this fall will be different, but what won’t be different is the myriad programs and activities designed to foster growth opportunities and build community. Faculty and staff are working hard identifying ways to deliver innovative and impactful learning experiences that meet the UM-Dearborn standard of excellence.”

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 on September 1. The library has a phased reopening of common areas planned following strict campus guidelines for safety. The university has also decided to not participate in NAIA fall 2020 athletic competitions and The Wellness Center on campus will remain closed for the entire fall 2020 semester.

“Our region and state have made significant progress in helping to control the spread of COVID-19. 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,” said Grasso. “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.”

The campus has developed health and safety protocols that will work to ensure that the campus learning environment is safe. Protocols include: in-person teaching schedules, classroom and building reconfigurations to allow for social distancing, face coverings will be required inside buildings, frequent hand washing and the use of hand sanitizer will be encouraged and additional cleaning procedures will be implemented.  

The university announced the launch of a website detailing the fall plan, which will be updated regularly as more details are finalized.