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University of Michigan president Mark Schlissel announces in-person fall semester

This could very well be good news for sports.

University Of Michigan Press Conference Announcing Athletic Director David Brandon Resignation Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images

The University of Michigan will move forward with plans to welcome back students to campus for fall instruction, president Mark Schlissel announced on Monday. The university is calling it a “public health-informed” fall semester that will offer a hybrid of in-person and online instruction.

The release from the university says that students will be able to choose from a hybrid experience on campus this fall or choose to stay home and do their courses online remotely, although not all courses may have this option.

This is obviously positive news as it pertains to the possibility of playing football, basketball and other sports this season. The biggest step was getting kids back on campus and it appears that with the state recovering from the coronavirus outbreak and in what appears to be the containment phase, things have moved in a positive direction. Though, Schlissel says in another statement they are still a few weeks away from determining that.

“Many student-athletes have already returned to campus for voluntary conditioning activities under strict public health guidelines,” he said. “Michigan Athletics is working with our public health experts and consulting with the Big Ten and NCAA on determining whether our student-athletes can safely return to competition this fall. An announcement will be forthcoming in the weeks ahead.”

Here is the statement from Schissel’s office:

I am pleased to announce that the University of Michigan plans to offer a public health-informed in-residence semester this fall. It will consist of a mixture of in-person and remote classes structured to reflect our commitment to promoting public health while fulfilling our fundamental mission of transformative undergraduate, graduate and professional education.

Thanks to the thoughtful and deliberate efforts of hundreds of members of the U-M community, our cautious optimism about the fall has coalesced into a path forward. Their work has given me confidence that we can do this safely, and we will continue to plan and prepare in the months ahead. We now have the opportunity to begin a new journey together, equipped with the very best guidance and ideas from our leading scholars, innovative students and expert staff.

Because of the ongoing challenges of COVID-19, the semester ahead will look and feel different than anything we have seen before. But the pandemic won’t change our commitment to the members of our community.

Although not all courses will be available in every format, most students will be able to choose whether to return to Ann Arbor for a hybrid learning experience or study from home in a fully remote mode.

Our Ann Arbor campus will open its residence halls for housing and dining, and will offer many on-campus programs and activities that enhance the college experience. UM-Dearborn and UM-Flint have campus-specific plans for hybrid instruction that their chancellors will share with their communities.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been substantially contained in many parts of the country including Michigan. Nonetheless, the potential for new infections, whether students are at home or in residence, will continue throughout the coming academic year, and perhaps beyond, until a safe and effective vaccine is developed and administered widely, or a successful drug regimen is discovered. Our plan to conduct an in-person semester relies on basic 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.

We will protect our students, faculty and staff with a broad array of research-based public health measures and tools. We will make full use of our longstanding excellence in teaching and learning, both in person and online, and tap our innovative spirit to deliver a world-class Michigan educational experience in these most unusual times. And we will ask all of you to join in prudent health and safety actions that will embody our commitment to caring for one another.

The primary components of our fall plan for the Ann Arbor campus are described below. We also have launched a Maize and Blueprint website with more information. It will be updated regularly as more details are finalized. Please note, however, that major changes in conditions could mean we have to adjust parts of our plan. We will remain agile and ready to adapt as needed because we have seen how quickly circumstances can change.

In the meantime, all staff and faculty who can work from home should continue to do so, and our previously announced plan to gradually and carefully resume various campus activities will continue.