Engineering faculty preparation for an in-residence Fall semester


Monday, you heard the announcement from President Mark S. Schlissel regarding a public health-informed in-residence semester this fall. This means we will welcome students to the Ann Arbor campus, classrooms and residence halls for a mixture of in-person and remote instruction. 

This news confirms our need to design high-quality, flexible options for our students. Some students may be unwilling or unable to return to campus for their education. For those who do, however, it will be critical that we provide a mix of in-person experiences that fulfill our fundamental mission of transformative education, while reflecting our commitment to promoting public health and creating an inclusive and equitable environment. 

The challenges of COVID-19 will continue to require new protocols and strategies to keep our community safe. Here in Engineering, we will be asking that each person join in prudent health and safety actions that will embody our values and a commitment to caring for one another, while also fulfilling our mission of providing preeminent education and research. To be ready for the 31 August start date, it will be critical that we continue to work towards an on-campus return to operations, as well as an array of options for students that include in-person, remote and hybrid instruction. 

The University’s Maize and Blueprint website provides comprehensive information about the implementation plan, guiding principles and current status. We will also continue to update the College’s COVID website as new information comes available. 

In preparation for the Fall term, the College recently asked you to participate in a short survey to assess comfort and concerns about returning to campus. Some of the issues you have raised include:

  • Limitations posed by and/or compliance issues with wearing masks;
  • HVAC circulation and cleanliness within buildings;
  • Expectations of students following protocols and safe practices;
  • Childcare obligations pending K-12 school decisions, and backup plans in the event of illness; 
  • Increased vulnerability of you or your family members; and
  • Not enough in-person interactions with students.

The College’s COVID Action Teams are working on many of these issues already, however there are still many more questions and details to work out. The information below provides some answers and guidance on issues that have already been resolved. We will continue to tackle and then communicate about these issues as solutions are identified. We also welcome your additional feedback or questions here.

We encourage you to read the following details to ensure you understand the preparations required. Thank you for your continued resilience and hard work to help make sure we are fully prepared to teach an innovative, in-residence Fall semester.

Mary-Ann & Joanna 


Academic Calendar

As you may have seen, the academic calendar has been adjusted to reduce back-and-forth travel for students, and allow sufficient time between semesters for implementing any needed public health protocols before students return. This includes:

  • A start date on 31 August, no fall break, and online coursework only after Thanksgiving break through exams and the end of the semester
  • Winter semester start on 19 January, later than usual, and no spring break in 2021

Inclusivity in Remote Learning

Students will have the option of choosing whether to return to Ann Arbor for a hybrid learning experience or study from home in a fully remote mode. In particular, many of our international students will need remote learning options because they will not be able to come to Ann Arbor this fall. 

Please keep in mind that all classes are likely to have some students who will be taking your courses remotely. Therefore, it’s imperative that courses be equitable and inclusive around participating in-person versus online. 

This resource from CRLT-Engin offers specific ways to evaluate your courses for inclusive practices based on these five principles of inclusivity developed by CRLT in remote settings:

  1. Transparency
  2. Academic Belonging
  3. Structured Interactions
  4. Critical Engagement of Difference
  5. Flexibility 

Determining In-Person Classes

Your department has received a request from the College regarding your teaching plans for the fall, which should be submitted in early July. Please use these guidelines in consultation with your department chair and facilities staff members to determine whether a class should be fully remote, in-person, or both:

  • Our goal is to ensure excellence of our educational offerings, regardless of delivery method, while balancing the health and safety for students, staff, and faculty. 
  • Instructors should review the learning objectives of the course and critically evaluate which must be done in person, and which can be accomplished at high quality remotely.
  • Design and laboratory courses will have the highest priority for in-person meetings, and the College will provide reasonable resources to accomplish this. This may necessitate adding sections during evenings and weekends, or expanding workspaces into classrooms. 
  • COVID room capacities based on current guidelines for social distancing are:
    • No more than 50 people (students and instructors) in any one room.
    • For lecture courses, no less than 36 sq ft per person (may increase as the length of time in the room goes above 80 minutes). 
    • Minimum of 6 ft. between individuals
  • Students will be required to wear appropriate PPE during class. Instructors will not need to wear face masks while lecturing (although they are welcome to if they choose) within a demarcated “lecture zone.” 


Instructional consultations, assistance, and technology requests

Because all faculty teaching this fall will be adapting delivery modes for a semester that is unlike any we’ve seen before, Nexus is offering instructional consultations to faculty and GSI’s that will help support the quality of a Michigan Engineering education. 

Consultations with Nexus include: 

  • Alternate course planning strategies for online delivery; 
  • Best practices and examples for teaching across modalities;
  • Integration of online best practices for online exams and alternate assessment strategies; 
  • Canvas consultations; and 
  • Leveraging online technology tools for student engagement. 

Fill out this form to request a consultation and to provide information that will help us better understand your goals and needs. Once we receive your form, we will contact you to schedule an appointment.   

Additionally,the College is offering cost-sharing of $200 per device for purchasing iPads and tablets for a faculty member. Please speak with your Academic Unit Administrator if you require technology to successfully conduct your work.

Access to CoE Controlled Lecture Recording Studios and Classrooms 

If you are teaching a course that traditionally has high enrollment or is considered a core or foundational course, we strongly encourage you to consider taking advantage of the CoE lecture recording studios and classrooms that are available during the summer months. The College considers these courses high priority for summer access to these facilities. 

The College of Engineering has 9 lecture recording studios available to pre-record online content for Fall 2020 classes this summer. These facilities provide the following support: 

  • An in-room Media Assistant to manage setup;
  • Classroom recording and technology support;
  • Access to a podium with a PC computer; and
  • Annotation tools 

If you have not already requested access to one of these CoE studios and you would like to pre-record your fall lectures this summer, please fill out this form for Summer Access to CoE Lecture Recording Studios and Classrooms as soon as possible. The ADGPE Office will connect you with safety training instructions and set up your individual instructional consultation with Nexus to answer questions and ensure you have the support you need (this will be required to access these facilities). Once you have completed the instructional consultation, you will be scheduled into the studio with appropriate staffing to support the recording session(s).

Recording in Departmental Teaching Labs & Faculty Offices 

We understand that you may prefer to pre-record online content for Fall 2020 in a departmental teaching lab or your faculty office. For these requests, please fill out this form for summer access to departmental teaching labs and faculty offices as soon as possible. 

Once your request has been processed, the ADGPE Office will contact you to provide safety training instructions and information on how to appropriately access the building. 


“Stackable” Precautions

The University will be deploying multiple layers of safeguards simultaneously that will combine to form a “stackable” set of interwoven interventions that will enhance health and safety for all members of our community. These include:

  • Extensive monitoring in real time; 
  • Health screening tools to support self-monitoring;
  • Purchasing more hand sanitizer, masks and other forms of personal protective equipment;
  • Additional cleaning protocols; and
  • Managing building access and reconfiguring spaces.

On-Campus Working

  • Engineering is developing a return to on-campus operations plan for Phase Two, which will include an increase of in-person work for those involved in instruction, faculty support or student services support. 
  • We will continue to develop plans to protect vulnerable members of our community, and will work with individuals to every extent possible to address their concerns.
  • It is imperative for all of us to monitor any symptoms, and stay home if we’re sick. 

Mary-Ann Mycek, Ph.D.
Associate Dean for Graduate & Professional Education

Joanna Mirecki Millunchick, Ph.D.
Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education