Ford School announces plans for Winter 2021

November 9, 2020

A letter from Ford School Dean Michael Barr:

Dear Ford School community,

By now you've seen the message from President Schlissel earlier today, announcing the University's plans for Winter semester. University leaders have learned from the fall and listened to many stakeholders in developing the plan, which emphasizes additional COVID testing, an increased use of remote learning, reduced density on campus, and additional mental health and other supports.

It's been a difficult time for many of us--doing our best to learn and work under trying circumstances and so much stress and uncertainty. We’re all overdue for some down time, and I hope that you can each find a way to take care of yourselves. Meanwhile, I’m writing to share the Ford School’s plan for the Winter term.

Our core principles for Winter remain the same as we laid out last August: (1) health and safety come first, (2) we'll offer outstanding policy education, (3) we'll maintain our supportive, inclusive, lively community, and (4) our research and policy work will continue apace.

In order to ensure the broadest access possible for our courses consistent with public health protocols and teaching and learning preferences, we will list all Ford School courses for the Winter term as fully remote; however, if the public health situation allows in the Winter, some courses might have optional in-person opportunities to meet with the professor and GSIs, for exam preparation, for optional discussion, for study groups, etc. As with the fall, in the winter, any in-person activity would be fully at the discretion of the professor, GSI, students, and staff. No one will be asked to take on any risks that they do not feel are appropriate for their particular situation, and, at the same time, everyone will be asked to look out for the health and safety of our entire community. 

All of the advising, writing instruction, and community-building activities that make our community so dynamic will continue to be offered on a virtual basis, and we’re working hard already on plans for our Winter speaker series.

As long as public health protocols allow it, we plan to continue to offer access to Weill Hall for study spaces, internet access for classes, and printer use in the Winter under the same set of safety protocols we currently have in place.  

The public health situation is evolving, and our plans may need to be adjusted accordingly. Our commitment to communicating clearly and transparently will not change. We’ll post an updated FAQ document on our Intranet as information is available. Meanwhile, please feel free to direct questions to

It's been a hard semester in many ways. I'm so proud of the learning, teaching, and policy work that's gone on this fall. I'm proud most of all for the support and care you've provided each other--classmates, colleagues, and friends alike.