Use code SPRING24 to save on memberships

A Semester Like No Other

A timeline of how the 2020 winter term took an unanticipated turn into uncharted territory due to the COVID-19.
Read time: 3 minutes

The 2020 winter term took an unanticipated turn into uncharted territory in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The effects lasted through the remainder of the semester and beyond, as this timeline shows (current as of May 20, 2020).


  • Winter term classes begin.


  • Students are away on winter term break and return March 9.


  • U-M President Mark Schlissel sends the first in a series of COVID-19 updates to the U-M community, including preparations the University is making for coronavirus emergencies.
  • Some individual units have started to cancel or postpone events.• The University is assisting students who were studying abroad and returning home from affected countries.


  • Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announces two presumptive cases of COVID-19 in the state, one of whom is being treated at Michigan Medicine. She also declares a state of emergency in response to these cases.


  • All classes on all three U-M campuses are canceled.
  • The University cancels all events on campus that would convene 100 or more people until at least April 21.
  • It also suspends international travel (with rare exceptions) until at least April 21.
  • All education abroad programs are altered or suspended.
  • The Big Ten Conference cancels the remainder of the winter and spring sports seasons. In response, U-M suspends all athletic activities.


  • All classes on all three U-M campuses are canceled.
  • Students who can do so are encouraged to move home as soon as possible. U-M Housing and Michigan Dining, the University Health Service, and libraries remain open to serve students who stay.
  • The Washtenaw County Public Health Department has confirmed that a member of the U-M community has tested positive for COVID-19 and is self-isolating.
  • The University encourages all managers to provide opportunities for employees to work remotely when possible while keeping their units open for business.


  • Honors Convocation does not take place.


  • Classes resume remotely in alternative formats through April 21, the last day of classes for the semester.
  • The University closes physical public access to some campus buildings, including libraries, museums, and fitness facilities, while continuing access to the Michigan League, Michigan Union, Palmer Commons, Pierpont Commons, Trotter Multicultural Center, and University Health Services.


  • Researchers across all three campuses have ramped down all noncritical laboratory research activities.


  • Whitmer issues a “stay home, stay safe” order, which calls for the suspension of most in-person work beginning at midnight through April 13. She subsequently extends the order.
  • University Housing informs students who remain on campus that they will be consolidated into North Quad, South Quad, and West Quad.


  • Schlissel sends an update about the financial impact of the pandemic on the University, stating anticipated losses of $400 million to $1 billion for the remainder of the calendar year.

APRIL 23-30

  • All final exams take place remotely in alternative formats.


  • Schlissel announces he is cautiously optimistic the University “will be able to deliver a public health-informed fall semester” on all three campuses.


  • Spring Commencement events originally scheduled for April 30-May 3 are canceled. Instead, the University celebrates 2020 graduates with online and social media content, including a message from former Vice President Al Gore. He had been the planned commencement speaker.


  • All spring and summer term courses at all three campuses commence, remotely in alternative formats.

Become a Member Today!

Your membership dollars allow us to tell stories that celebrate U-M alums’ achievements and their impact in the world. Support this work and get access to all Michigan Alum articles by joining today.

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By using this site, you accept our use of cookies.