In-person classes at the University of Michigan will resume according to the regular schedule on Jan. 5, 2022, with additional health and safety protocols in place for the winter semester.
“We are prioritizing student learning, the pedagogical needs of our academic programs and the enriching classroom interactions that can’t be fully replicated remotely,” President Mark Schlissel and Provost Susan M. Collins said in a Dec. 28 email message to students, faculty and staff on the Ann Arbor campus.
Their message said the plan to move ahead with in-person classes was based, in part, on the success of the fall semester with “very high levels of vaccination and excellent compliance with our rules around indoor face coverings.”
University officials will continue to monitor the spread of the delta and omicron variants and adapt health and safety strategies accordingly.
The president and provost wrote that in recent semesters the university has learned that students return to Ann Arbor in conjunction with the start of any new term whether classes are primarily online or in person.
“In addition, our classrooms — with required vaccination and masking — have remained safe throughout the pandemic. Therefore, in Ann Arbor, we do not believe an initial period of remote education will significantly diminish spread of COVID-19.
“In recognition of the activity of COVID-19 locally and nationally, however, we will implement additional public health measures with the goal of limiting spread of the omicron variant virus and continuing our important work,” they said.
Among the additional health and safety measure are:
- A COVID-19 vaccine booster is required for all students, faculty and staff on all three campuses, including Michigan Medicine. The deadline for reporting is Feb. 4, 2022, with details on how to report coming soon. “We urge you to get boosted as soon as you are eligible,” the president and provost wrote, noting that a booster increases protection against symptomatic infection with omicron to about 75 percent.
- All students living in a campus residence hall must get a COVID-19 test upon arrival through U-M’s Community Sampling and Tracking Program.
- Students must wear face coverings in the common areas of residence halls and in Recreation Sports facilities, at least through Jan. 17, 2022. The U-M indoor and transit mask requirement will remain in effect.
- Starting Jan. 1, 2022, everyone attending ticketed events, including on-campus performances and athletic events, must show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours. For the U-M community, vaccination verification can be done through the ResponsiBLUE app.
- U-M is strongly encouraging all students, faculty and staff, regardless of vaccination status, to get tested if they have traveled over the winter break. Most U-M employees return to work Jan. 3 following the break.
- The university also is recommending that food or drink not be served at on-campus gatherings to minimize the need to remove face coverings.
The additional protocols were developed by the Campus Health Response Committee in collaboration with the campus executive team, deans of the schools and colleges and other academic leadership “to provide the best possible educational experiences for our students as safely as we can and largely in-person,” the email message said.
“Over the break, some of us have experienced holiday events where family members were unable to attend due to testing positive for COVID-19,” Collins and Schlissel said. “The more-rapid spread of the omicron variant, now the dominant strain in the United States, means that greater case numbers are likely here, as they have been around the state and nation.
“These cases seem to be milder than earlier in the pandemic, and those who are vaccinated and boosted almost never get seriously ill. We ask for everyone’s continued vigilance and care as we tackle this next phase of the pandemic. Both of these qualities were essential to our fall term’s success.”