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Fall 2020 Frequently Asked Questions

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2020-21 academic calendar

What is going to happen this Fall 2020?

The University of Michigan plans to offer a public health-informed in-residence semester this fall. 

Our plans are informed by the thoughtful and deliberate efforts of hundreds of members of the U-M community including our public health and medical experts and scores of faculty, staff and students from across the campus community.

We will have more information to share as we move forward with our plan to gradually and carefully resume various campus activities, and encourage people to visit either the ECE COVID-19 page, or the Maize and Blueprint website for the latest updates. 

How did U-M make the decision for fall?

The university sought expertise and advice from dozens of faculty and staff who are leaders in their fields including experts in public health, medicine, innovative teaching, engaged learning, physical space use and much more. Student Life is engaging hundreds of our students in wide-ranging aspects of planning. 

U-M’s plan to conduct an in-person semester relies on research-based public health strategies including social distancing, minimizing out-of-area travel, wearing face coverings, washing hands frequently, symptom screening, clinical testing, contact tracing and quarantine that add up to a highly effective way to limit spread of this illness, allowing students to pursue their Michigan education.

From a public health safety perspective, U-M has public health and medical expertise not commonly found at other institutions. This includes a highly ranked academic medical center, Medical School, and School of Public Health, whose renowned faculty members are advising the State of Michigan leaders on their COVID-19 pandemic response.

Academic calendar

The academic calendar has been adjusted to reduce back-and-forth travel between campus and home, and to allow sufficient time between semesters for implementing any needed public health protocols before students return. 

The new calendar provides a full week break the week of Thanksgiving and allows time for students to return to their permanent residences and remain there until the start of the winter semester.

  • Fall 2020
    • Fall classes begin Aug. 31, 2020 and meet continuously through Nov. 20, 2020.
    • There will be no fall break.
    • The last day of in-person classes is Nov. 20, the Friday before Thanksgiving. Students are strongly advised to travel home and remain there until the winter term begins.
    • Fall classes resume Nov. 30 – Dec. 8 as remote-only instruction with exams and final projects conducted remotely.
  • Winter 2021
    • Winter semester will begin on Jan. 18 with a day celebrating the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Classes will begin on Jan. 19 and meet continuously through April 20.
    • There will be no winter break.
    • The later start to the semester is designed to provide students with additional time for rest and self-isolation (if needed before returning to campus), and faculty planning for winter instruction.
    • Final projects and exams will be April 22–29.

Am I required to go home after Nov. 20?

Students should return to their permanent residences and remain there until the start of the winter semester. We recognize that some students may be required to remain on campus due to program requirements (e.g., clinicals, certification requirements).

Students that cannot go back home due to travel restrictions or other conditions, are directed to contact the Housing office as soon as possible to discuss arrangements.

What are plans for winter commencement?

There will not be a December Commencement ceremony this year consistent with public health guidance on travel and large indoor social gatherings. All students who complete graduation requirements will earn and receive their degrees. Graduates will be invited to participate in spring ceremonies as they normally are. 

The university is continuing to plan for an in-person ceremony for graduates who would have attended Commencement in Michigan Stadium in May of 2020.

Classes

Will classes be remote or in-person?

The EECS Department will provide students the option of taking our courses as a hybrid (meaning a combination of in person and online) learning experience or studying from home in a fully remote mode.

All courses offered by EECS this Fall can be completed in a fully remote mode, even if they are hybrid courses.

We are in the process of finalizing which courses will be hybrid and which will be online only, and will share that information in a future email. In general, large lecture classes will be completely online, and lab courses will be hybrid (but again, can also be done completely remotely). Medium size classes might be either.

What is a hybrid course? And can hybrid courses be completed online?

A hybrid course is one that will offer opportunities to attend classes and/or labs, as well as learn the material online.

Any hybrid course can be completed online. Faculty will prepare alternate assignments as needed for online students. This applies to both lab and lecture courses.

When will I know what format my classes will be?

ECE expects to post the format of most or all Fall 2020 classes by mid July. We will send an email when the information is available.

Do I need to be on campus for final exams?

For most students taking in-person classes, you should plan to return to your permanent residences after Nov. 20 and remain there until the start of the winter semester. The university is moving to fully remote courses after Thanksgiving break to minimize the amount of travel back and forth to the area. We recognize that some students may be required to remain on campus due to program requirements (e.g., clinicals, certification requirements).

If I defer to W21, given the fact that many grad courses are sequenced (with the first one taught in F and second taught in W), will those Fall courses also be taught in Winter?

We will not be adjusting our course schedule for the upcoming academic year, as we do not have the personnel to make additional offerings beyond what is typically taught in the Winter semester.  That said, some instructors may be willing to make course material from F20 available online for students beyond the F20 semester but this will not be done uniformly.  For this reason we are strongly encouraging students to enroll remotely for Fall 2020 rather than requesting a deferral until Winter 2021.  

If I enroll for F20 and start taking classes remotely, can I arrive mid-semester (for example, upon receiving my visa)?

Yes

I’m taking courses X, Y, Z.  Z is a lab-based course, what should I expect in doing lab assignments remotely? 

Different courses have different combinations of mode of delivery and different arrangements for completion of lab assignments.  The best thing to do is to get in touch with the lead instructor(s) for your course(s) and seek information specific to those courses.  Some examples are as follows.  Some lab courses will be using hardware kits shipped to the students for them to use at home/remotely; this will be combined with video instruction and online office hours.  Some courses will use these kits for students to complete most of the assignment at home and spend less time in person in the lab if they choose to do so.  Some team-project based courses will pair remote students with on-campus students to work as a team.  Some will primarily offer in-person labs. 

I am concerned about unfairness due to cheating by some students when taking exams remotely. 

Here are some of the guidelines our faculty will be following this fall to discourage and mitigate cheating: 

  1. Avoid using curves.  We’ve advised faculty to not use curving in assigning grades, so as to remove competition as a motivation behind cheating.  You are encouraged to get confirmation and more specifics from your instructor(s). 
  2. More, lower-stakes quizzes throughout the semester rather than a few, high-stakes exams (midterm+final).  
  3. Open book, open notes exams and quizzes. Consider imposing time limitation and/or using randomization to discourage cheating. 
  4. Consider using oral component to augment assessment, e.g., normal, written exams plus a small 5-10 min oral exam. 
  5. Our project courses (MDEs/Capstones) are typically team-based, as are many of our other lab-intensive courses.  The assessment in these courses are already primarily based on group projects; these courses are generally hard to cheat in.

How is the university maintaining the quality of the educational experience? 

The Michigan educational experience encompasses meaningful interactions, diverse thoughts and ideas, a commitment to educational excellence and student success – all of which stem from having committed and engaged faculty, staff and learners. While physical buildings have traditionally supported these activities, we are committed to recreating and delivering this experience in new and innovative ways, whether in-person, online, or a combination of both.

U-M faculty have long been recognized as are experts in delivering a high-quality education, whether in person or online, at scale.

Although we are working to make the best experience possible, we know that we are better together, even in constrained conditions, and so we are working to provide hybrid experiences, take advantage of safe in-person opportunities, and continue to offer the very best remote teaching we can provide.

Will there be study abroad for fall?

All countries outside the U.S. are currently under a U-M COVID-19 Travel Restriction until further notice. Under this U-M Travel Restriction, all undergraduate student University of Michigan Related Travel (UMRT) is prohibited and graduate students on UMRT must follow the Safety Plan approval process. For more information, visit the Global Michigan website.

Advising, Deadlines, Course Registration

How will advising happen?

Most, if not all, advising will be done remotely by appointment.

I’m a new MS student. Will I be able to complete all course work and degree requirements in 3 semesters? 

Yes, it is possible to meet the MS degree requirements in 3 semesters. The MS program requires students take 30 credit hours, which would correspond to taking roughly 3 courses per semester in order to graduate in three semesters.

I’m a new grad student. Can I get a deferral for W21, or F21?

Deferrals are handled on a case-by-case basis. Rackham policies for deferral, including a description of circumstances that would warrant deferral, are found here.

A rule of thumb is that deferrals are granted only when the student is unable to come to campus due to circumstances beyond their control.

We are encouraging incoming graduate students to enroll remotely in Fall 2020 if they are unable to come to campus.

What is the process for a deferral?

ECE will work with each student individually regarding their preferred learning preference. If you have not yet indicated your learning preference for ECE, please do complete this form.  If your original selection has changed, please do contact ece-grad-program@umich.edu and we would be delighted to update your preference. 

During the first week of August, we will be reaching out to those who indicated a preference to start in winter to process the deferral.  By this time tuition, CPT, remote learning perks, and/or other factors that may impact your decision will be confirmed so you can make the best decision for your studies.  

When is the last day to request a deferral (to W21)?

The last day to submit your deferral request to ECE will be August 8th. This will give us sufficient time to process the requests before submission to Rackham, whose deadline is August 28th.

When is the last day I can arrive on campus to still be eligible for CPT/summer intern in summer 2021? 

If you are a continuing student who already has an F1 visa, then the US-ICE allows you to count the remote semester toward the CPT requirement (https://www.ice.gov/doclib/coronavirus/covid19faq.pdf). 

If you are a new international student, this is less clear.  We are hoping to get a clear answer on this soon.  Please check back regularly for an update.

I’m on the waitlist for course X, when do I find out whether I will be allowed to take this course?

Normally, the waitlist is processed right before the beginning of the semester. But since many courses will adopt a hybrid delivery mode this Fall, they have significantly increased their capacity. Please contact the instructor directly about the possibility of a larger class size this Fall.

Living on campus

If I arrive in the middle of the Fall semester, will I have trouble finding (on-campus) housing?

You can find housing information on this website. For off-campus housing, the best way is to contact the company/landlord directly regarding possible partial-year contracts.  While rental leases are typically year-long, they don’t all start in August/September.  Provided there is housing availability — and we believe there will be, given the fact that some students will be remote this Fall — it is entirely possible to negotiate a lease that starts on the date of your arrival and ends in summer or at the end of the academic year.  There are always short-term leases available though those tend to be more expensive.

Will Residence halls and Dining be open?

Yes, our residence halls for housing and dining will be open and operating under public health protocols. Most students will be assigned a roommate and will have the opportunity to develop life-ling friendships in the residence halls. There will be limited access to lounges, and student residents are required to wear a mask when they are in public places like hallways, community bathrooms, etc. (Students’ rooms are not considered public spaces). Virtual programs will be provided for student residents to participate on a weekly basis that will allow them to engage with the rest of the community. RA’s will be available to assist the residents with any questions. Students with pre-existing health conditions may be assigned to a limited number of singles available for high risk individuals.

Dining halls will reduce their seating areas to allow for 6 ft distancing and manage access to reduce density. Both Dine-in (by reservation online) and takeout meals are available to students. Additional meal plan takeout outposts across the campus are being established to increase convenience, and lower the waiting lines. Touchless technology will allow students to access the dining halls, and specialty food like Kosher, Halal, vegetarian, meals will be available. 

More details are available on the MHousing and MDining websites

What can I expect as the Move-In experience?

U-M is planning for a phased move-in which will further enhance the move-in experience and address any public health worries of residents. Students will be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days prior to arriving at on-campus housing and may be required to undergo health testing before or upon their arrival. Move-in will occur in controlled, staggered fashion by residence hall, and include physical distancing, wearing face coverings, temperature checking, and other health measures. The length of move-in will be expanded from 3 days to a minimum of 7 days to allow physical distancing. More details will be forthcoming and are available on the Housing website.

Can I be assigned a single room?

There are a limited number of single rooms available for students with pre-existing health conditions and/or those at high risk. Please connect with the MHousing office to discuss options. 

What can I expect as the student experience on campus?

While student life at U-M looks and feels different this year, U-M will offer many on-campus programs and activities that enhance the college experience. Many of Student Life’s educational programs, community-building activities and learning experiences are being adapted to serve students during this challenging time.

Students may see additional changes to their campus experience such as physical distancing requirements in libraries and other common spaces and buildings, limited access to certain areas, additional cleaning, takeout meals, and staggered timelines for activities such as move-in and dining. A group of U-M experts is examining potential safety changes for the bus system, as well.

What are some of the things that are still OK to do on campus?

With masks at the ready and practicing physical distancing, there are still many things you can do while on campus including: 

  • Indoor social gathering of groups of 10 or less.
  • Walk and bike outside while enjoying a typical Michigan autumn. 
  • Join various student organizations, many of whom are planning virtual programs and meetings.
  • Use of Recreational Sports facilities, which will provide both in-person and virtual programs and services.

Staying healthy on campus

When should I wear a mask or face covering?

Based on current guidance from the state, you are required to wear a face covering when entering enclosed public spaces, including campus buildings, communal areas and classrooms, where physical distancing cannot be maintained. Roommates/suitemates in a single unit will be considered a “household”, and face coverings and social distancing not required in the room.

Acceptable face coverings include a homemade mask, scarf, bandana or handkerchief.

View guidance from EHS on face coverings: http://ehs.umich.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Face-Covering-Usage-for-COVID-19.pdf

What is being done to make sure I stay healthy if I’m on campus?

We will protect our students, faculty and staff with a broad array of research-based public health measures and tools. 

University-wide, we are working to purchase more hand sanitizer, masks and other forms of personal protective equipment so that we can provide them as needed.

U-M is finalizing plans and protocols for student, faculty and staff testing for infection with the virus that causes COVID-19. We have been contract tracing since the beginning of the outbreak and are building capacity, as well. Details will be shared at a later date.

Our plan for an in-person semester relies on basic public health strategies including social distancing, minimizing out-of-area travel, wearing face coverings, washing hands frequently, cleaning spaces, symptom screening, clinical testing, contact tracing and quarantine.   

All employees working on campus are required to take COVID-19 Training that at a minimum covers the following: 

  • Workplace infection controls practices.
  • The proper use of personal protective equipment.
  • Steps the employee must take to notify the university of any symptoms of COVID-19 or a suspected or 
  • Confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19.
  • How to report unsafe working conditions.

The success of the upcoming semester will depend on all of us respecting the guidelines set forth by our experts and remaining mindful of the fact that each of us has the responsibility to be safe so we can protect our classmates, peers, teachers, mentors, colleagues and loved ones. 

What safety precautions are being taken for in-person classroom instruction?

Our goal is to create an educational and workplace experience that is safe and accessible to all with the expectation all instructors and students will follow the current public health recommendations. Our collective safety requires we all do our part by practicing strong personal hygiene habits, wearing a face covering when appropriate, maintaining a physical distance of six (6) feet and staying home when sick. 

We are reducing the density of classes, and classrooms will be reconfigured to provide additional spacing between students as well as appropriate physical distance from the instructor. There will be limitations on the use of gathering areas to preserve physical distancing. Access to certain entrances may require M-Card swipes to enter buildings. And, we’ve also increased cleaning and sanitation efforts across campus as buildings open.

These and other measures will combine to form a “stackable” set of interwoven interventions that will enhance health and safety for all members of our community. What this means is that we will deploy multiple layers of safeguards simultaneously. Research demonstrates that stacking best practices together results in the optimal control of the spread of COVID-19. 

I think I’ve been exposed to/have COVID-19, what should I do?

If you are sick with COVID-19 or suspect you are infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, contact your healthcare provider and self-isolateThe CDC offers the following guidance on how to self-isolate

Alert the Dean of Students Office for support.

Housing will have living spaces to quarantine for on campus residents that have tested positive. We encourage local students to go home for the duration of quarantine or isolation time. All students living at FSL should be able to self-isolate at their residence. All other off campus students that test positive and do not have the ability to self-isolate need to contact the Dean of Students’ Office for support.

If you are a student employee, there are more requirements. Please check with your supervisor who will let you know what you need to do.

I am feeling stressed (due to remote learning or something else) and am in need of support, who can I contact?

Please visit the C.A.R.E Center website to submit a concern, request an appointment, or find the resource that you think will best serve you.

Additional resources and support are available for students through the Dean of Students Office or Counseling and Psychological Services as well as additional Inclusive Campus Resources that help students find support and community on the U-M campus.