University temporarily cancels classes in response to coronavirus


The University of Michigan will cancel classes March 12-13, and will resume delivering them March 16 in alternative formats. Classes will not meet in person through April 21, the last day of the winter semester.

Also, all U-M events that would convene 100 people or more, as well as similar-sized events organized by others on U-M campuses, will be canceled until at least April 21.

Those are among four new measures, effective March 12, that U-M leaders announced in a message updating the university about its response to the growing spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus in the United States and around the world.

Other measures outlined in the message from President Mark Schlissel and Chief Health Officer Preeti Malani include:

  • All U-M international travel is suspended until at least April 21, with rare exceptions requiring approval. Domestic travel for university business is strongly discouraged.
  • All U-M education-abroad programs will be altered or suspended. All spring semester education-abroad programs will be canceled, and a decision about programs that start July 1 or thereafter will be made in the coming weeks.

Beyond those measures, most university operations will remain unchanged.

“Our goals are to deliver on our mission while protecting health and safety by minimizing the potential spread of the disease, both within our community and in the broader society,” Schlissel and Malani said in the universitywide email distributed March 11.

“The changes we are announcing today follow the general public health principle of limiting the interaction of people within larger groups to diminish disease transmission and protect everyone in our communities, particularly the most vulnerable.”

With the announcement March 10 that two presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 are being treated in the state of Michigan, U-M’s statement urged everyone to follow public health guidelines for preventing the spread of viruses.

The university continues to ask managers and supervisors to encourage employees who are sick to stay home from work.

In other developments:

  • All Michigan Dining and U-M Housing will remain operational.
  • All home athletic competitions will be played as scheduled with only student-athletes, coaches, officials, essential personnel and a limit of two family members per participant in attendance. Credentialed media and broadcast partners will be accommodated at games and encouraged to utilize social distancing.
  • The Office of the Vice President for Research has partnered with teams across campus on a guidance document to help faculty and staff best manage their ongoing research and scholarship activities.
  • The university has created a Remote Resource Guide to assist students, faculty and staff with working or engaging remotely. The Ann Arbor Provost’s Office has additional information on remote instruction.
  • During spring break, the University Health Service on the Ann Arbor campus implemented changes to manage traffic through the building and maintain an environment as safe as possible.
  • Michigan Medicine is prepared to care for patients diagnosed with COVID-19, putting protections in place for patients and employees.
  • The university will assist members of the U-M community who have chronic health conditions with accommodations for classes or work arrangements.

The universitywide message said faculty and instructors should let students know how they will handle the transition involving the cancellation of classes and their resumption in alternative forms.

The events cancellation includes the Honors Convocation on March 15. The university will continue to monitor the impact of the virus and provide updates on major end-of-semester events, including commencements, when more information is available.

“Organizers of other large events may seek to conduct their event virtually. We ask organizers to inform their audiences and participants of changes as soon as possible. The University will endeavor to reschedule any affected third-party events as practical. Individual units may change smaller events at their discretion, and all may consider virtual options,” the message said.

The university also reiterated everyday actions people can take to help prevent the spread of all respiratory viruses:

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Consider alternatives to shaking hands.
  • Unless you are sick with cough, sneezing and fever, it is not advised to wear a mask.

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