Canopies return to offer outdoor study space around campus


The outdoor canopies that were popular places for students to study last fall are back.

The University of Michigan has erected seven canopies at five locations on the Ann Arbor campus: the Michigan Union, South Quadrangle, Palmer Tennis Courts and North Ingalls Mall on Central Campus, and Gerstacker Grove on North Campus.

Starting April 6, they will be open from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on weekdays and from noon-6 p.m. on weekends. It has not been determined how long the canopies will stay up, and the number of canopies may change, based on usage.

Photo of canopy on North Campus.
This canopy at Gerstacker Grove on North Campus is one several that have been erected around the Ann Arbor campus. (Photo by Scott C. Soderberg, Michigan Photography)

The canopies are designed to give students and other university community members a place to study, eat and relax while keeping building densities low amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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Each canopy contains tables and chairs that are spaced out to maintain social distancing. Wi-Fi is accessible in all the canopies, and cleaning supplies and sanitizer are available for visitors to use. In addition, campus staff will clean the canopies regularly.

U-M first put up canopies last fall amid new limits on the use of indoor spaces because of the pandemic. They proved to be extremely popular, drawing about 38,000 visitors while they were up from late August through October.

“From what we’ve seen, this has been a great service for the students, and they’ve enjoyed it,” said Kambiz Khalili, associate vice president for Student Life Auxiliary Services. “I certainly hope they will utilize the canopies this next month as we’re preparing for the end of the semester.”

Photo of workers from Delux Tents and Events of Belleville putting up a canopy at the Palmer Tennis Courts
Workers from Delux Tents and Events of Belleville put up a canopy at the Palmer Tennis Courts. (Photo by Scott C. Soderberg, Michigan Photography)

Officials reduced the number of canopies from 13 in the fall to seven this semester and determined their locations based on usage patterns. In total, they have seating for about 200 people.

The canopies are designed for individual use only, so people will not be allowed to hold classes or group meetings there. Students will be expected to wear masks and maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from each other. A list of use guidelines will be posted at each canopy.

The plan for the canopies originated last year in the Provost’s Office. Officials opted for open-sided canopies instead of tents because the lack of walls allows air to circulate freely. The coronavirus is known to spread more easily in confined spaces.

“Canopies were a great success from last fall and provided our students an outdoor alternative for studying or resting when on campus,” said Amy Dittmar, senior vice provost for academic and budgetary affairs. “We are excited to bring canopies back this spring.”


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