DEARBORN, Mich., February 19, 2021 – University of Michigan-Dearborn's Department of Athletics & Recreation announced today that student-athletes will have the opportunity to return to competition beginning March 1, 2021. The decision follows new information from teams in the Wolverine Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC) conference regarding the development of advanced health-safety guidelines.
As we shared earlier this week, and throughout the pandemic, the university is committed to returning our student-athletes to appropriate activities as soon as it is safe to do so," said Bryan Earl, interim athletics director. "After we received new information from the conference and in consultation with our U-M chief health officer, it was determined that UM-Dearborn will return to athletic competition, contingent upon teams following health and safety guidelines (testing and masks) during competitions with UM-Dearborn."
The university's athletic department, working with the emergency management team and guided by public health professionals, developed a plan to return to competition, practice, training and conditioning that includes an ongoing testing program, the wearing of face coverings during contact and non-contact training and competition, and modifications to the Fieldhouse to promote social distancing and safety measures like closing common areas, plexiglass barriers, limiting building density and deep cleaning.
Earlier this week, the university made the determination not to return to competition due to the increased risk student-athletes would face when competing against other teams in the WHAC that could not guarantee the same enhanced level of safety measures.
On Thursday, February 18, the university learned that schools within the WHAC are working to implement more stringent health and safety guidelines relating to their student-athletes, including ongoing testing plans and a mask policy. In addition, it learned that the athletic conference is working on a conference-wide policy that will help ensure the health and safety of all student-athletes. These new policies align with those that UM-Dearborn's athletics department developed in their return to training and competition plan.
The UM-Dearborn Fieldhouse and Wellness Center will remain closed to faculty, staff and students who are not athletes.
The university's winter 2021 semester began on January 13, with all classes taught in a remote format through February 26. Classes that were previously identified to have an in-person component will return to campus beginning March 1. These classes include those such as labs, senior design and similar courses that require a high-level of student interaction or special equipment. All of the health and safety measures currently in place to keep the campus community safe will continue throughout the winter 2021 semester.
The university is actively planning for the upcoming summer and fall semesters, with more information expected to be shared later this spring. The university is working to resume a closer-to-normal semester this fall, while continuing to prioritize the health and safety of the campus community.
Additional details regarding the process and timing for return to practice, training, conditioning and competition will be shared with student-athletes by the head coach of their respective team. All athletic scholarships for the 2020-21 academic year will continue to be honored by the university. Questions from student-athletes regarding eligibility and future participation should be directed to Assistant Director of Student-Athlete Services Eric Stark and their respective head coach.