Roughly two months after students returned to campus, the University of Michigan says it will cancel winter semester housing contracts and not let as many students attend classes in person after Nov. 20.
"Cold and flu season, colder weather, and 'Covid fatigue' present very real obstacles for us," President Mark Schlissel says in a campus-wide email. U-M lists 278 new Covid diagnoses in the past two weeks and nearly 2,200 since March 8.
"Our fall term has been like no other. Some plans worked well, and others didn't," he acknowledges.
The Michigan Daily student paper reports on the latest disruption:
Plans for the winter semester at the University of Michigan will be significantly different from the fall reopening plan that earned the school a heavy dose of criticism and eventually culminated in a temporary stay-in-place order for undergraduates.
Only certain freshmen will be allowed to return to on-campus housing, the university will increase the availability of testing, and offer fewer classes in an in-person or hybrid format. ... Mandatory testing will be implemented for students living in University Housing or participating in on-campus activities.
Though Schlissel previously said the winter semester would closely mirror this fall, this semester saw widespread protests, including strikes by graduate students, resident advisers and dining hall workers over safety concerns.
As planned originally, the fall semester will finish remotely after a nine-day Thanksgiving break. Classes resume Jan. 19, two weeks later than scheduled before Covid hit.
Students were supposed to be able to choose in-person, remote or mixed instruction classes, but now "only courses that must be taught in person will be delivered that way, as determined by instructors and program leaders," Schlissel says in Friday's email to students, faculty and staff.
(At Michigan State University, most undergraduate classes are online only this semester.)
U-M undergraduates who need to stay on campus for the winter term can request single-occupancy housing because of financial or academic needs, status as international students or other factors.
The president's message ends on this note:
I join all of you in wishing that our winter term could be normal, and we could enjoy the transition into spring free of the anxieties of this pandemic. The semester will be the third consecutive one of hardship for our community.