The University of Michigan announced its 2021 winter semester plans, which will include more remote courses and fewer undergraduates living on campus.
The new plan includes a provision that undergraduate students who don’t need to live on campus should remain at their permanent residences for the semester to reduce density in U-M residence halls.
It also includes mandatory weekly COVID-19 testing for undergraduate students living, learning, working or doing research in person on the Ann Arbor campus, major increases in asymptomatic testing for all members of the campus community and new measures to support mental health and well-being.
President Mark Schlissel says the plan reflects widespread requests from students and instructors for more testing and an opportunity to continue to advance their academic goals as effectively and safely as possible.
“We have engaged broadly across the campus to gather input from faculty, staff and students,” Schlissel said in a press release. “Our plan for the winter term reflects the best of what we learned and what we’ve heard that you hope to achieve going forward.”
Instructors will be able to use the format they believe is most appropriate. There will be fewer hybrid classes that are partially online and partially in person based on feedback from instructors about the difficulty in teaching them, the university said.
No instructor will be required to teach in-person if they would prefer not to.
The university will implement a mandatory weekly testing program for undergraduates who live on campus or attend in-person classes or activities, perform research, use facilities such as libraries, unions or Recreational Sports, or work on campus.
Weekly asymptomatic testing will be available for all graduate, professional and undergraduate students who are not otherwise covered by a mandatory program, as well as staff and faculty working or teaching on campus.
All U-M Housing contracts for undergraduate residents will be canceled for the winter semester.
“We know that asking students to leave their residence halls in the middle of the year is disappointing and disruptive, and we apologize for that,” said Martino Harmon, vice president for student life. “The community created within a residence hall is an important part of the college experience, but safety has to come first.”
Undergraduates who need to remain on campus for the winter term can request housing based on certain need-based criteria, such as health, wellness or safety concerns, financial need, specific academic need, status as international students or U-M Housing ResStaff student employees, or other extraordinary, extenuating circumstances.
Undergraduate housing will be assigned one person per room.
Students returning to campus in the winter will encounter a strict, no-tolerance approach to enforcing COVID-19-related policies.
Depending on the violation, penalties will include automatic probation, University Housing contract termination and removing university recognition for student organizations hosting or participating in social gatherings.
The university will also add two mid-week, one-day "well-being breaks" without any scheduled academic activities on Feb. 24 and March 23.
U-M staff members working from home will continue to do so throughout the winter semester.
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