As the world navigates the coronavirus pandemic, all of us are facing unprecedented challenges and new realities. Armed with preparedness, quick-thinking and creativity, and with the health and safety of our campus community (and their families) as our top priority. The University of Michigan-Dearborn is committed to ensuring that we continue to provide the academic excellence that has come to be expected at University of Michigan-Dearborn, regardless of the method of course delivery.  

What will the Winter 2021 semester look like at UM-Dearborn?
  • Guided by public health experts, UM-Dearborn will continue with our hybrid approach through the winter 2021 semester. Continuing our focus on keeping campus density low and academic excellence high. We have also shifted 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. 
  • The Winter 2021 semester will continue in a hybrid format; with less than 12 percent of classes delivered in-person on campus. The academic calendar has been adjusted with the semester starting on Wednesday, January 13 and spring break eliminated. All classes will be taught online 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 will be held Thursday, April 22 - Wednesday, April 28.
  • 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. 
  • 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 and Credit Union and with university events. 
How was the decision made regarding the delivery of winter 2021 classes?

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. And, the university, continues to work to ensure accessibility and ameliorate potential unequal impacts on students during this change in instruction. 

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. 

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. 

The university used the latest science, advice and direction by University of Michigan public health officials and local, state and national healthcare professionals and government leaders to inform its decision on Winter 2021 teaching and campus life plans.

What options were considered for winter 2021 instruction delivery?

Guided by the recommendations of the State of Michigan, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, public health professionals and our University of Michigan colleagues, UM-Dearborn leadership planned for various teaching scenarios for the fall term. Each scenario would include, as needed, social distancing measures and other precautionary requirements to promote a safe teaching, working and learning environment for students, faculty and staff. Each scenario is being designed to allow for a quick pivot — either to more on-campus or more remote teaching — based on the nature of the pandemic.

Several scenarios, that could be implemented based on the latest science and public health guidance, were considered. These include:

  • On-campus instruction for courses that are most effectively and optimally taught on-campus, including labs, senior design sections, and the like. 
  • A remote-and-campus hybrid modality, in which much course content would be delivered remotely and asynchronously with students brought to campus periodically (e.g., once a week) for engaged/experiential learning activities. 
  • A fully remote hybrid modality, with both synchronous (requiring days and times) and asynchronous online components. An example would be a course that makes all the content available online, but “meets” on Zoom once a week for active learning purposes. 
  • Remote instruction, including courses originally scheduled online for winter 2021, and courses which have been designed for the online modality with an expectation of asynchronous instruction. 
How will academic quality be maintained in remote classes during the winter 2021 semester?

The health and safety of the UM-Dearborn campus community, students, faculty, staff and their families, remain our top priority. The university is committed to ensuring that we provide the academic excellence that has come to be expected at University of Michigan-Dearborn, regardless of the method of course delivery. 

There is no doubt that personal interaction provides enormous added value, not least in encouraging diverse perspectives and nurturing peer-to-peer learning. This is why, even with remote delivery, finding ways to engage students, and have them engage with each other, is so important. Aspects of social engagement, equity and inclusion and other perspectives of interaction and debate will continue to be part of our educational mission. 

Since the COVID-19 crisis began, University of Michigan-Dearborn has sought to support faculty, especially those with less remote teaching experience, to make the transition to robust and effective online teaching. The university’s Hub for Teaching and Learning and college-based ‘Digital Education Ambassadors’, will continue to offer this training and guidance as we move towards the start of the winter 2021 semester.

 

What are the plans for Spring Commencement?

A decision regarding the spring 2021 commencement will be announced in January 2021.

Why was the academic calendar modified for the winter 2021 semester?

The university considered several options to modify the academic calendar for the winter 2021 semester. The updated calendar allows us to follow health and safety guidelines while maintaining the required definition of a credit hour along with minimum standards for providing faculty instruction to students. Beginning winter classes a week later on January 13, provides campus community members additional time to self-isolate if they traveled during the time between the fall and winter semesters, and to give everyone a longer pause between semesters, not least for course preparation. We understand that many use the spring break as a time to recharge and refocus during the semester. It was determined that eliminating it was necessary to limit the risk of mid-semester travel which could bring an increase of COVID cases to our campus community.

I’m a student having a hard time connecting with faculty and other students in this remote environment. What resources are available to me this fall and will be available during the winter semester?

While we understand that the fall and winter semesters are different than what any of us would have anticipated, the university is committed to working with you to make sure you have the best experience possible. If you are having any problems with technology, connecting with faculty members or engaging on campus we encourage you to email DearbornCOVIDsupport@umich.edu and our Dean of Students team will happily assist you. Useful video tips on remote learning and campus resources are available from the Mardigian Library.  Be sure to also check out the Return to Campus Guide for students, which includes lots of helpful information and resources. 

While we are not on campus together, we hope you’ll continue to stay connected to our community through a variety of virtual programs designed to help you stay engaged. We have a number of virtual programs to help you connect with peers, staff and faculty in the many programs. VictorsLink, our student life portal, continues to be a hub of activity and engagement where you’ll find lots of great information and resources. Also, be sure to look for the Sunday evening email from the Dean of Students - which includes lots of helpful information and highlight upcoming events and activities to engage with.

Will I receive a full or partial refund on my tuition for my Winter 2021 courses since many will be taught remotely?

The university continues to maintain our affordability to support our students during this challenging time. UM-Dearborn faculty are committed to providing the academic excellence expected of the university while delivering all the necessary content, albeit in an alternative format. Students will also be completing their classes, receiving credit and grades, and continuing to work toward their degree requirements. Tuition refunds or discounts will not be provided. The university has looked for opportunities to reduce fees when possible, notably reducing the fall registration fee by $200 and not charging for parking.

Students experiencing financial challenges should look towards the resources below for assistance:

  • A new emergency resources page provides options to request financial support:
    • The Immediate Relief Funding form for unexpected financial hardships
    • The Get to Graduation form if you need assistance in meeting current educational expenses 
    • CARES Act Immediate Relief funding provides financial assistance to those who have been adversely impacted by the disruption of campus operations caused by the COVID-19/Coronavirus crisis.
  • New virtual Financial Aid counseling: Submit Request to set up an appointment.
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