Thursday, April 2, 2020

Coronavirus timeline: How news of its impact on MSU’s campus evolved

March 12, 2020
People walk through Wells Hall after MSU cancelled classes due to coronavirus March 11, 2020.
People walk through Wells Hall after MSU cancelled classes due to coronavirus March 11, 2020. —
Photo by Matt Schmucker | The State News

In the wake of two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Michigan, Michigan State suspended face-to-face instruction Wednesday and strongly encouraged students to return to their permanent places of residence. 

“MSU is suspending face-to-face instruction in lectures, seminars and classroom settings and moving coursework to virtual instruction,” President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. said in an email. “This suspension of in-person classes will last until Monday, April 20 and we will reevaluate this decision on an ongoing basis, sharing additional updates or modifications as more information becomes available.”

Stanley also said the university learned the Ingham County Health Department is investigating and monitoring an individual linked to MSU's campus. 

News of the disease and its impact on campus has evolved over time, from statements saying MSU's risk of exposure is unlikely to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declaring a state of emergency to the World Health Organization calling the coronavirus a pandemic.

Jan. 24 — University Physician addresses China coronavirus outbreak

MSU Physician David Weismantel issued a statement Jan. 24 about the recent outbreak of a coronavirus originating in Wuhan, China. 

While MSU leaders recognized the concern, the risks of being exposed to this virus at MSU are unlikely, Daniel Olsen, MSU deputy spokesperson, said.

Jan. 27 — Three Michigan cases undergo testing for coronavirus

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, or MDHSS, approved testing for three new possible cases of the Novel Coronavirus — two in Washtenaw County and one in Macomb County.

“At MDHHS, we recognize the potential threat associated with this virus and are working to identify any suspect cases in Michigan,” Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief medical executive and chief deputy for health said in a press release.

Jan. 28 — Three Michigan coronavirus samples tested negative

Three possible cases of 2019 Novel Coronavirus in Michigan came back negative, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, or MDHHS. A fourth possible case from Washtenaw County was sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, for testing.

State health officials were pleased with the results, Khaldun said in a press release.

Jan. 30 — MSU halts China travel as coronavirus spreads

MSU announced it would halt the next eight weeks of all non-essential university travel to China just as the World Health Organization, or WHO, declared the novel coronavirus a global health emergency.

Feb. 14 — MSU students address diversity concerns during board meeting

At the February Board of Trustees meeting, MSU students spoke about the Wharton Center incident, the coronavirus and international student rights. 

Feb. 21 — Coronavirus halts additional MSU travel abroad

The university physician sent out an update on coronavirus to the MSU community suspending all university-sponsored travel to China, Singapore and Hong Kong through the end of July.

“This suspension takes effect today and includes all study abroad programs in those countries,” Weismantel said. 

Feb. 28 — MSU announces COVID-19 plan and potential response

MSU announced the steps it would take to prevent the virus from reaching campus and how it would prepare for coronavirus scenarios.

According to Stanley’s email, a university committee is developing contingency plans for accommodating housing and educational needs of international students that may be unable to travel home for the summer, as well as for students expected to arrive next fall semester.

March 7 — MSU accommodates travelers from coronavirus outbreak regions

MSU announced it would assist students with a 14-day self-quarantine for anyone who traveled to China, Italy, Iran or South Korea, according to a letter to the community from Weismantel and Stanley.

The update echoed travel guidance from the CDC as students started returning from spring break.

March 10 — MSU suspends international, non-essential domestic travel

Stanley sent an email to the community Tuesday announcing that all university-sponsored international travel and non-essential domestic travel would be cancelled.

The letter came just after universities across the country began canceling in-person classes.

“MSU is preparing for a variety of possible scenarios and campus units have plans and resources in place for a potential outbreak,” Stanley said in the email.

March 10 — MSU prepares online framework as some schools cancel classes

MSU began preparing a potential transition to online classes. Stanley touched on this issue of in-classroom learning in his most recent email to the MSU community. 

“MSU has been preparing for pivoting the campus to online learning should that decision be required,” Stanley said. 

March 10 — Two COVID-19 cases confirmed in Michigan, Whitmer declares state of emergency

Whitmer announced a state of emergency following two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Michigan. 

The two individuals who have COVID-19 are in the metro Detroit area. One is a female adult from Oakland County, who had traveled internationally, and one is a male adult from Wayne County, who had traveled domestically. Both are currently hospitalized.

March 11 — MSU suspends in-person classes until April 20

The transition to virtual instruction happened at noon Wednesday.

During the period of virtual instruction, students can return to their permanent residence and work remotely, per Stanley's email. MSU is strongly recommending this because there are “advantages for social distancing.”

“But for those not able to go home, we will continue to fully support students in our residence halls and dining facilities,” Stanley wrote.

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