Engineering follow-up from today’s stay-at-home order

Dear Engineering faculty members:

Earlier today, you heard from the University and the Washtenaw County Health Department about preventive COVID-19 measures that have been enacted, including a stay-at-home order issued for undergraduate U-M students and an adjustment to some undergraduate courses.

These measures, although disappointing to some, were taken to further support community health, exercise an abundance of caution, and provide choices to our students and instructors. Despite the diligence and sacrifices of so many of us, including the thousands of students and employees who have supported community health and safety, COVID-19 cases continue to rise on our campus, in the region, state and nation.

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

I want to emphasize that these measures are preventive, and are intended to give our community a more secure environment, but also choices that best fit their unique situation. 

Changes to Courses

Undergraduate course delivery on campus may be changing as a result of these orders. According to the President’s message, 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.

Within Engineering, our current course modalities were designed with this in mind. In particular our lab and design courses are substantially enhanced by in-person instruction. Additionally, the protocols in place within classrooms – including room capacity, social distancing, PPE and cleaning procedures – were designed to minimize risk. As a result, the risk of classroom transmission remains low, and we have no known cases of in-class transmission within Engineering.

Instructors may choose at this time to change the modality of their courses to fully remote. If you teach a hybrid or in-person course, as soon as possible (and no later than noon Wed, 21 Oct) please: 

  • Work with your instructional team to evaluate and decide whether you will continue in your existing mode of instruction (e.g. hybrid or in-person).
  • If you elect to change your modality, please fill out this formDo not submit a form if you are not changing modality.
  • Regardless of your decision, please communicate the status of your course to your enrolled students as soon as possible.

Graduate and professional students are not subject to the order. However instructors may also elect to change the modality of their graduate-level courses. Please follow the same steps above to evaluate if a change is needed, and then report and communicate that change.

Changes to Research

According to the President’s message, undergraduate students will not be allowed to participate in in-person research and scholarship. However:

  • 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.

Please communicate this information to your affected undergraduate students, and make alternative arrangements where possible and necessary.

Further information

I want to thank you in advance for again navigating these challenging and changing waters with us. Our ability to be flexible and resilient in the face of changing conditions is a testament to your dedication. I am confident in our ability as always, and I believe we will continue to work in a manner that fulfills our educational and research missions.

We will work to keep you informed as conditions change and share more information if and when it becomes available.

In the meantime, if you have any further questions, please reach out via email to let us know:

  • For undergraduate matters:
  • For graduate matters:
    • Associate Dean for Graduate and Professional Education Mary-Ann Mycek (, and
    • Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Steve Ceccio (
  • For research matters: