Michigan State University will be shifting most of its classes to online instruction for the start of the new semester. The move comes as Covid-19 rates surge around the state and hospitals remain stretched in terms of human and other resources.
The plan calls for remote (online) education for the first three weeks of the semester. Exceptions will be made for courses that require in-person learning, like some labs, clinical classes, and music classes.
Dorms will stay open, as will the MSU Library and activities at venues like the Wharton Center. “Recreational options” will also go on as planned.
MSU previously began the 2020-21 academic year with online instruction amid surges of the Covid-19 pandemic then.
The decision to go remote could, of course, be extended later in the semester if medical resources continue to be stretched thin by the disease.
ELi reported two weeks ago that MSU was requiring booster shots for students, staff, and faculty, while the City of East Lansing has yet to institute any vaccine mandate, an approach that has “irritated” the people serving on East Lansing’s Parks & Recreation Advisory Commission. MSU had also required vaccination against Covid-19 prior to the return of students for the current academic year.
The Omicron variant is extremely contagious, although reports suggest it may produce less severe disease. Vaccination will not prevent a person from getting Covid-19 but it does dramatically reduce the likelihood of hospitalization and death. (Unvaccinated people are 14 times more likely to die than vaccinated people if infected.)
Some small business owners in East Lansing have been telling ELi that the on-again, off-again nature of in-person work and learning at MSU is wreaking havoc on their operations, making everything very unpredictable. Many are also stressed by a shortage of workers and from having staff quarantining because of illness and/or positive tests.
East Lansing Public Schools are expected to resume classes as normal, with the masking and testing requirements that have been in place.