classroom suspension plan for infectious hazards


Classes will be suspended only under extreme circumstances. This plan assumes a suspension for an extended period due to infectious hazards. Steps taken due to an actual suspension might not follow the actions written in this plan. This plan is a model that identifies possible issues while it allows for the exact conditions of the suspension. This plan is effective as of October 2009.

Principles and Priorities

  1. The Provost will rely on expert medical advice from the Chief Health Officer and the Michigan Department of Community Health when considering decisions related to class suspension. A final decision to suspend classes will be made by the Provost after consulting with Deans, Executive Officers, and others in the administration.
  2. All schools and colleges would suspend classes together, with the possible exception of the Medical School and the School of Nursing.
  3. Research will continue as long as possible, regardless of class suspension. Because research does not involve large group gatherings, this is not in conflict with the University's response.
  4. The University will make every effort to devise a plan that allows students to complete the necessary coursework for their semester and to do so in a manner that allows the University to sustain its resources.
  5. Individual schools and colleges will handle clinical and field assignments and requirements.
  6. If the winter term is delayed to the middle of January, there will be impacts on benefit eligibility and proration of pay for those appointed on a per term basis (a four-month minimum is needed for benefits). Executive Officers can approve a waiver of this requirement, but because this would require manual processing at a time when staff absenteeism might be high, HR planners recommend keeping appointment start and end dates consistent with normal term starting times, i.e. September 1 to December 31 and January 1 to April 30 or May 31 as appropriate.
  7. A decision to suspend classes does not imply any particular action on handling tuition and fee revenue. The University leadership has sole authority to make decisions about tuition discounts or refunds as outlined in the Regents bylaws. In an instance where classes are suspended, the leadership will determine the appropriate action on handling tuition and fee revenue based on the circumstances at the time. In particular, individual schools and colleges do not have the authority to make their own decisions on handling tuition.
  8. Unless a class suspension occurs before the established drop and add deadlines, the existing policies for dropping or adding a class will remain in effect. See Student Registration Deadlines for more policy information. Campus-wide communications to students and faculty should direct students who are considering dropping a course to their academic advisors, who are familiar with these policies and the implications for financial aid, visa status, and progress toward degree.
  9. The Office of Financial Aid is required to follow Federal guidelines concerning disbursement of aid. Regulations may be relaxed as they were during the aftermath of Katrina, but UM will not be free to make its own decisions.
  10. In the absence of approved exceptions, existing University Policies will be followed.

Instructional Response and Recovery

The possibilities for making up class days depend on the actual timing of class suspension. The following lists are not absolute responses, but are intended to stimulate discussions while preparing for and to offer possible options when responding to class suspensions.

Provost/ University Wide Decisions

  1. The Provost or a designee will formally announce the date for restarting instruction with at least one week prior notice.
  2. Consider these options when replacing suspended instruction days:
    Replace suspended class days with one identical make-up day, per missed day (same classes, same rooms, same times, same days of the week), in order to complete the desired number of class days (typically 67-72) and administer final exams. Honor observed national holidays. Use scheduled breaks (e.g. Spring Break) to make up missed class time. Use end-of-term study days to make up class days. Ensure at least 1 week of instruction before beginning final examinations upon return from class suspension.
  3. If there are not enough make-up days in the term to meet the minimum number of class days, reduce the number of meeting days to a minimum of 60.
  4. If conditions warrant, spring or summer terms could be canceled altogether to accommodate changes to fall or winter academic calendars.
  5. Develop University-wide guidelines for determining "incompletes" for average campus classes. The Registrar‟s Office may create a special "incomplete" code, which will not remain permanently on the transcript, to handle the exceptional circumstances of epidemical flu, i.e. extended absence due to illness, fear, etc.
  6. Should circumstances warrant, delay the start of the next semester to accommodate suspended days from the previous semester. Consider reducing the number of instructional days or using breaks.
  7. If the University extends a semester‟s end date, there would be a GEO and LEO bargaining concern that would need to be addressed.
  8. Coordination between offices will be essential. Because a student's decision to drop one or more classes can affect financial aid, housing, and/or visa status, it is very important that students who are sick with the flu know where to seek advice. The Dean of Students' Office and academic advisors in the every school or college should be prepared to not only provide well-informed counsel but to notify faculty, housing, the International Center and financial aid of a student's decision when appropriate.

    Note: A response step followed for H1N1 was a message asking students to delay arrival to campus if they were ill with flu like symptoms. The message asked late arriving students to contact their academic advisors, who would alert faculty so that students would not be automatically disenrolled. (Housing should alert the Dean of Students if students do not arrive in dorm rooms on time, so that the Dean of Students can inform faculty if necessary.)
  9. The only option for campus wide commencement events is to keep to the original dates or cancel the event if we are directed to suspend operations. Commencement is too large to be rescheduled.
  10. The Office of New Student Programs has a plan in place to conduct orientation sessions remotely via the web. The web orientation will be put into operation if the university cannot host orientation on site.

School and College Decisions

  1. Schools and colleges will have to assess the availability of instructional staff to cover classes if instructor absenteeism is high
  2. Schools and colleges are encouraged to plan for handling clinical and field placements, internships, grading, and other departmental matters should the University suspend classes.
  3. Graduation requirements are developed with great deliberation in the schools and colleges. It is unlikely they can be relaxed on a one-time basis.

Individual Instructor Decisions

  1. Faculty will need to adjust syllabi in the current or subsequent terms to meet prerequisites.
  2. Use final exam days as class days. This might not be a practical option as many courses grade only on mid-term and final exams. Consider the possibility of administering final exams using regularly scheduled class days/time, which might give instructors the option of choosing to administer exams or to carry out instruction. Reducing the number of exam days is not feasible for scheduling reasons.
  3. Whether classes are suspended or they continue with high rates of absenteeism, faculty should be prepared to answer student inquiries about making up work and/or taking an incomplete. There may be many more requests than usual for these kinds of accommodations. Faculty should have plans in place that will treat all students equitably even if there are numerous requests.
    Recommendations for Teaching During a Flu Outbreak