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June 30, 2021
 
Dear OLLI members,
 
As the OLLI 2020-2021 program year ends, we want you to know that OLLI Staff and the Leadership Council appreciate your continued support and participation during these months when change was constant.  We completed the year with a sense of a strong OLLI community that was willing to give time and resources as we worked to meet so many diverse needs in these 12 months.  Thanks to each of you!
 
We are sending this message to clarify and confirm information about programming decisions to date for Fall 2021 and Winter/Spring 2022.  We would appreciate your support for these decisions which are all being made with the health and welfare of our members in mind.
 
Fall 2021
OLLI staff and an OLLI volunteer leadership group met over a period of months in the spring to make a recommendation on how we can best provide programming for our Fall 2021 season.  As many of you have heard or read in the Friday newsletter, OLLI will be presenting all of our programming virtually with zoom through December of 2021. 
 
We understand the danger of social isolation and continue to balance the need of people to gather in person with the need to keep people safe from Covid-19. 
 
The recommendation to offer only virtual programming was based on factors that became clear over the last several months: 

  • Guidance by the UM Geriatrics Center that Covid variants still pose a very real risk to the community and especially for our age demographic
  • Lack of venues available to host Fall classes/events. All venues we often use for programming remain closed to reservations for outside groups.  They have told us they will revisit this decision in October for January 2022 planning.
 
Members were also surveyed with the help of the UM Statistics in the Community (STATCOM) team so that staff and the leadership group could understand member concerns at this time, including when members would be comfortable meeting in person again. The consensus was that most members did not feel comfortable meeting without some safety precautions like limiting the number of people who can meet in person.
 
  •   Per regular ongoing OLLI policy, members are always prohibited from meeting in their homes for any OLLI classes or meetings due to the Geriatric Center’s liability and safety concerns. Also, and consistent with what we have clarified above, no meetings can be held in community spaces. As policy for Michigan Medicine changes, we will continue to evaluate how this affects OLLI policy.
 
Winter/Spring 2022
Our planning committee will continue to meet and confer with the Geriatrics Center on when we can return to in-person offerings in January or after. We understand the very real challenge of social isolation and plan to be in person as soon as we are able.
 
Currently OLLI-UMs intention is to develop and make available in-person, zoom, and livestreaming beginning January 2022 to the extent that these formats can be accommodated safely within an individual program.  Access, health and safety concerns reported by the members surveyed will be considered in each program design.  Emerging considerations for making these formats available are the status of Covid variants, availability of a suitable venue for lectures since WCC is undergoing renovation from January-June 2022, suitable and affordable technology, and staff and volunteer availability.
 
In support of survey responses from members, OLLI-UM will expect all participants to be fully vaccinated.
 
Our members are our best sources for what’s meeting their needs.  We continue to appreciate your suggestions and your comments on programs and the ways in which you can participate. In March 2020 we transitioned out of an all in-person program to an all-virtual one.  We now need to transition to a program environment that is a mix for January and beyond.  We need your help to do that successfully.
 
Information Meeting for Members
To answer any questions that you may have, we are conducting a zoom meeting for OLLI members and look forward to addressing any concerns. Please join us Thursday July 8 from 4 – 5pm.  Participation information is below:
 
Join Zoom Meeting
https://umich.zoom.us/j/99822886966?pwd=Rm5jQzJEU1JoL21LT2ZFcHQwMmVOdz09
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
Meeting ID: 998 2288 6966 (if calling in)
Passcode: 406355 (if calling in)
 
If you cannot make this meeting and would like more information, please don't hesitate to contact Lisa Barton, the OLLI Director at 734-998-9356 or libarton@umich.edu
 
Finally, as we close this program year and look toward 2021-2022, there’s an exciting line up of events waiting for you this fall.
 
  • Our first two Thursday Lecture Series: Canada and the United States- “Unidentical Twins,” and Our Changing Economic Landscape: Wealth Redistribution, Innovations, and Sustainability 
  • A robust line up of 65 study groups
  • Five new Distinguished Lecture Series, including Bringing Equity to Innovation Policy, and Financing Schools in Michigan: Can We Do Better
  • Afternoons with OLLI – including The University of Michigan Carillons
  • A return of favorite Commons groups – Schmoozery, Happy Hour, Coffee with Marta, Book Beat, Poetry Reading and Lunch Bunch – and the new MI OLLI Collaboration
  • Out of Town’s Diego Rivera and The Detroit Industry Murals at the DIA
  • a special five-part Series on The Futurescape of Medicine
  • Two OLLI Reads offerings featuring Abdul El Sayed and Peter Ho Davies (including free panel discussions),
  • A new Shared Interest Group on Tea and Discovery

We deeply appreciate the work of staff and volunteers during the last six months as they created and finalized these new and continuing programs and look forward to seeing all of you at many of them! Look for details in the Fall 2021 catalog arriving in your home mailbox early August.
 
 
Best wishes for a great summer!  See you at the Fall Kickoff on Wednesday September 1 at 10am!
 
 
                                Lisa Barton                                                                          Lynn Boyer
                                Director OLLI-UM                                                             President OLLI-UM Leadership Council
 

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