ENGIN UPDATE: Yesterday’s order | need-to-knows, next steps & coming soon

The College of Engineering’s weekly update aims to provide transparent and frequent information about how the College is operating, adapting and caring for its community. Updated information can always be found at the College’s COVID website. Questions and feedback can be submitted here

Yesterday, we all received information about a county order and change to undergraduate courses. Contingency planning has always been part of reentry, but when it happens, it comes with confusion and stress. The College is moving quickly to interpret this decision and its impact to our students, faculty, staff and parents. Here are things we want Engineering staff and faculty to know, right now. 



The order was designed in close collaboration with Washtenaw County. It includes a 14-day stay-in-place order for undergraduate students enrolled at the Ann Arbor campus. The University took additional steps, including an adjustment to some undergraduate courses. The order does not directly impact graduate students.

The University’s response metrics that led to this decision include: 

  • Isolation and quarantine housing projected to reach capacity within 14 days
  • More than 70 new cases per million in Washtenaw County
  • Clusters that are exceeding our ability to perform timely and complete contact tracing



The president’s announcement states “all undergraduate classes that are substantially enhanced by in-person instruction due to the nature of the instruction, space or equipment needs can continue to be taught in person. Most other undergraduate classes will continue to be taught fully remotely.” Schools and colleges are managing the process to determine which courses will remain in person.

As part of our thorough preparations for this semester, our current course modalities were designed with this in mind, and the protocols in place within classrooms (room capacity, social distancing, PPE and cleaning procedures) minimize risk. As a result, the risk of classroom transmission remains low, and we have no known cases of in-class transmission within engineering.

Yesterday we emailed our instructors, giving them the option to change the modality of their courses to fully remote. 1.) With a deadline of noon today to confirm, 2.) and an expectation that they will communicate to their students whether or not the class format will change.  

Resources for remote instruction are available through CoE, Nexus, the UM Center for Research on Learning and Teaching, and the UM Center for Academic Innovation’s Online Teaching site.



Yesterday’s email also included information about restrictions (and exceptions) for undergrads participating in in-person research.  According to the President’s message, undergraduate students will not be allowed to participate in in-person research and scholarship, except:

  • Senior students engaged in in-person research and scholarship for credit as part of a class or a thesis project can work with the College’s Associate Dean for Research to request an exception.
  • Undergraduates with jobs in research labs will still be able to go to work with the consent of their supervisors and under public health protocols.



Study spaces in Chrysler Center and Pierpont are continuing unchanged. The Duderstadt Center (DC), as of this morning, has restricted its study spaces to graduate students only.  The Study Spaces website has been updated to reflect the DC changes.  



We are working hard to answer questions and provide clarity. For example, student orgs are asking, how does this affect us? Staff are also uncertain if this affects their operations, and clarity is being sought. For now, staff should continue their work under the guidelines that have been in place.