Engineering follow up to Stay-In-Place order

Michigan Engineering Undergraduates –

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

We know you have questions. Here’s what covered in this email:

  • Why this happened

  • How your classes might change

  • Changes to student life

  • Should I go home?

  • What’s Next

Planning for contingencies such as this was always a possibility. But we recognize that, when it happens, it can be frustrating and cause more anxiety – especially coming after months of uncertainty and disruptions.

When you feel a loss of control such as this, it’s hard to stay focused, stay motivated or plan your next steps. We wanted to reach out today to provide you some additional context, and concrete information about what this does and doesn’t change for engineering students.

Remember the College COVID site is your one-stop-shop source of College information, and the Maize and Blueprint website provides University-level information.

Why this happened

We want to emphasize that 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

How your classes might change

Within engineering, we imagine very little about the current arrangement of our courses will change. Our in-person lab and design classes were structured this way because of the importance of in-person engagement to that experience, and have rigorous public safety protocols such as social distancing, PPE, and cleaning procedures. Indeed, we have no evidence that any community spread occured in our teaching spaces.  

Nevertheless, some courses – within engineering or in other schools or colleges – may elect to go fully remote at this point. Engineering instructors teaching hybrid or in-person courses were asked to communicate with by noon today. If you have not yet heard from your instructor, please reach out.

Changes to student life

The county order lists the variety of activities still available to undergraduates. 

Student Services: The Office of Student Affairs, including the C.A.R.E Center, Engineering Career Resource Center, Engineering Advising Center, and the Registrar’s Office, and the Engineering Center for Academic Success are all still available for your use. If you have immediate questions, you can email and we will try to get you answers.

Study Spaces: Within the College, we are evaluating which of our study spaces may be impacted by this. For now, CAEN computer labs, the Chrysler Center and Pierpont Commons remain open. We will update you if those change. The Duderstadt Center now limits its study spaces to graduate students only. Spaces within other College buildings, such as within your departments, are currently available but this may change in the coming days. Your departments will reach out individually to communicate that to you. 

Student Orgs: We know there are questions about whether or not student organizations and teams can continue meeting in person, for example in the Wilson Center. For now, any meetings that can be done virtually, should be. Further guidance will be sent in the coming days. If you have questions about the actions your org can engage in in the coming days, please reach out to

Should I go home?

We realize that the increased stress these measures may bring, combined with changes to your classes, could cause you to choose to return to your permanent homes. If you decide to take that route, and are scheduled to attend an in-person class, please reach out to your professor to make alternate arrangements for completing coursework.

If you do choose to leave campus at this point, please make sure you are following the University’s departure protocol, which includes getting a COVID test within 7 days prior to departure. Students living in Michigan Housing are required to get tested prior to departure. 

What’s Next?

We realize that there are still many, many questions you likely have – including what happens next semester. We want you to know we are actively working on all fronts to get you the most accurate and up-to-date information possible.

We also want you to know that your educational experience is our number one priority. Whether you are here on campus, studying remotely, or somewhere in-between, we are here for you. Delivering a high-quality engineering education, and cultivating socially-conscious and intellectually-curious minds, is our educational mission. 

This pandemic has challenged us all in so many ways. But the grit and resilience you are building as a result are critical traits for an engineer. And the compassion and empathy you are building are critical traits for a human being. Here at Michigan, we are both.

Do not hesitate to share any additional questions or concerns using our Engineering COVID feedback form.

Stay safe,

Joanna Mirecki Millunchick

Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education
Professor of Materials Science & Engineering
University of Michigan
College of Engineering
(734) 647-7150

Jeanne Pearl Murabito

Executive Director
Office of Student Affairs
University of Michigan
College of Engineering