Dear Campus Community,
We have solidified our plans for Fall 2020 at the University of Michigan-Flint.
The cornerstone of the plan is based entirely on the health and well-being of all members of our campus. Throughout the spring and summer, teams of staff and faculty have developed a way forward that will preserve and enhance the quality of the educational experience that UM-Flint has to offer. Our work has been and will continue to be guided by the latest public health information on the most reliable ways to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus that continues to persist.
The creation of our plan for Fall 2020 was also informed through feedback from faculty, students, and staff. For instance, of current UM-Flint students surveyed by the Office of the Dean of Students, over 70% stated they wanted to attend class remotely. Academic Affairs has analyzed this data, and working in partnership with other units across the campus is finalizing the details of the course schedule.
The UM-Flint Reopening Committee continues to meet regularly and review all aspects of campus operation. This includes everything from the protocols for entering a building on campus, to evaluating classroom and event spaces for configurations and cleaning procedures, to examining how to enhance the online learning and teaching experience. These efforts are ongoing, and the Reopening Committee continues to seek feedback as we navigate this new way of operating the campus.
The Fall Semester
Due to the pandemic, the fall semester will look and feel very different from past semesters. Based on data from the medical community and public health experts, we have concluded that the safest way to conduct the fall semester is with the majority of courses offered online, and with limited events and activities on campus. However, even though much of what will happen will take place remotely, there is additional planning underway to offer a robust schedule of online and small, in-person events and activities to keep all of us connected.
Classes for the Fall 2020 semester will begin Aug. 31, 2020. The previously scheduled fall break in October will be eliminated. The last day of in-person classes for the semester will be Friday, November 20. After the Thanksgiving break, any remaining in-person classes will move to remote delivery along with all other classes on Monday, November 30, and continue until December 11. Final exams will take place December 14-19. Grades will be due December 22.
Some courses, generally labs and other similar courses that require being on campus in an academic space, will offer face-to-face experiences. Academic leadership is working with the Office of Environment, Health and Safety (EHS), and Facilities and Operations to determine properly physically distanced classrooms and other space on campus for any courses requiring in-person instruction.
Working Remotely and Returning to Campus
All employees who are able should continue to work remotely, until further notice. For those employees who must be on campus, supervisors (deans and directors) have completed work plans that are consistent with the State of Michigan’s Executive Orders and current U-M practice. Departments will resubmit work plans for the fall semester. Employees should contact their supervisor if they have any questions about their specific work arrangements.
Through the end of August, if an employee needs to come to campus, they must receive permission from their supervisor and follow a new procedure put in place by the Department of Public Safety (DPS). Please contact DPS in advance at 810-762-3333 prior to your visit.
Campus meetings are expected to be conducted remotely, and not held in-person even if the employees are on campus. This helps to reduce the spread of the virus.
Our campus has solid infrastructure and our faculty have good experience in online education. Prior to COVID-19, approximately 23% of our course sections were offered fully online. For Fall 2020, we are moving toward approximately 75% of courses being fully online.
Online classes will be offered either in synchronous mode, in which the class meets at a regularly scheduled time and day(s) online together or in an asynchronous mode, in which students receive assignments and work independently on their own schedule and with regular deadlines to keep them on track.
The Provost Office sent a message last week indicating the course schedule changes that are being made to reduce campus density and follow proper physical distancing measures that will be necessary for the courses that will be offered face-to-face. Additional changes may be made in the coming weeks, and we will keep you informed.
Although we had hoped to host a commencement ceremony this summer, UM-Flint will not hold a commencement ceremony on August 16, 2020 as originally planned. The current state guidelines for large events under the precautionary measures to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus preclude us from moving forward with this event.
For planning purposes for our April, August and December 2020 graduates and for our April 2021 graduates, we are moving all commencement ceremonies to late April 2021. Additional details on the graduation celebration will be released in the coming months.
Student Affairs and Housing
The Office of Housing and Residential Life will continue to operate student housing on campus. New procedures are in place to encourage physical distancing, comprehensive cleaning protocols, wearing of face coverings, and other measures to mitigate the spread of the virus. Students can sign-up to live in housing by visiting umflint.edu/housing.
Food service on campus will be limited with operating procedures established in accordance with public health guidelines for safe food distribution. Meal plans are available to both residential students and any member of the UM-Flint campus community.
The departments of EHS, DPS, and Facilities and Operations have collaborated to establish health and safety protocols for the reopening of campus.
An assessment of all buildings has been completed, with recommendations for single entry points, screening processes, and campus signage determined. Some of those measures are being put in place this summer to prepare for fall.
All cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment is being purchased centrally in Ann Arbor and distributed across the enterprise. That effort is being led at UM-Flint by EHS and Procurement. Departments should not purchase their own supplies at this time.
The Genesee County Health Department will take the lead on contact tracing activities on campus, with support from EHS and others. Discussions regarding testing on campus are ongoing and involve input from Ann Arbor public health and risk management colleagues.
UM-Flint will adhere to the same protocols established by U-M for employees with a positive case of COVID-19. If an employee has symptoms or tests positive, they should immediately contact University Human Resources.
For students who become ill or have symptoms, they should contact the Office of the Dean of Students immediately for assistance and guidance.
Student Affairs is establishing new approaches to creating a student experience in the COVID-19 era. Events for students will include more online activities. Details will be announced soon.
Some event spaces may be used for additional classroom spaces for those courses that meet in person. This limits the number of events that can potentially be scheduled in those spaces. Some event spaces are unavailable due to construction projects and the inability to support proper physical distancing.
For departments planning events, the Office of Event and Building Services will take reservations and manage the number of attendees based on state guidelines put in place due to the pandemic. Currently, there are no events scheduled on campus for the foreseeable future. Departments are encouraged to offer as many remote events as possible. Further communication regarding the reservation process and guidelines will be emailed in the near future.
Events by external groups are currently not being booked on campus, and these will not take place until a later date.
It will take all of us working together to keep our campus healthy and safe. Measures such as face coverings, physical distancing, additional hand sanitizing stations, limiting campus entrances, and asking all guests to fill out a survey on their current health will be enforced. Never has it been more important to look out for one another and abide by public health guidelines that have been proven to help prevent the spread of the virus.
In the best interest of this shared responsibility, a hotline for reporting non-compliance is available to anyone who sees any unsafe or unhealthy activity on campus. The number for the hotline is 866-990-0111. All calls are confidential.
Moving Forward Together
Living through history in real time is not easy. The pandemic has created obstacles and challenges unlike any we have experienced. However, it is important to recognize that we are making progress. This campus community has adapted to a remote learning environment and has kept the institution operating effectively. The ability to be flexible and agile in an uncertain environment is paramount for our collective success. President Schlissel shared these same sentiments in his message to the Ann Arbor campus earlier today, and you can read his message here.
The work to refine our processes and protocols will not stop. Changing the way we live our lives these last few months has been hard. However, we have done it. We must remain vigilant now as we move through this next phase of living through a pandemic. Your help and input matters and we encourage you to continue to do all you can to keep yourselves and others safe. We will continue to update the campus on any further changes as events warrant.
Thank you for your enduring support of our university.
In good health,
Interim Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
Vice Chancellor for Business and Finance