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MSU is online in response to COVID-19, how have students reacted?

March 11, 2020

After the confirmation of two COVID-19 cases in Michigan, President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. sent an email announcing classes will be moved online Wednesday — students had many initial reactions to the announcement. 

The email came at about 10 a.m. and students quickly flooded the hallways or residential halls making phone calls to family and others. 

Many questioned their safety, how they would adapt to the online classes and housing situations.

“I guess I'm surprised that it's this serious, and I didn't expect it like to happen here,” business sophomore Bryce Dolan said. “I just think it's pointless. Like, you're not gonna eliminate face to face contact, right?" 

Dolan is employed by MSU and also was concerned on if he is to continue working.

“I'm confused whether I'll continue to keep working or not since MSU shut down face to face, because I work at a restaurant area,” Dolan said.

The surprise came to many students, while others were not surprised MSU followed in the footsteps of other big universities. 

“I have friends over at (Ohio State University) and their school’s online, and I figured since they're so close it's bound to happen here,” business freshman Nick Debaker said. “I just assumed after seeing the article last night, that we'll get an email today about classes going online.”

Tuesday night, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer held a press conference announcing the first confirmed case in the state and declared a state of emergency. 

Many international students have to remain in East Lansing. China has stopped flights in and out of the country, stopping some from going back even if they wanted to, according to Chinese international student Yuxuan Zhang.

Zhang said that families of MSU students in China are happy the university moved to online classes as classes in China have stopped for a while now. 

“Back home, we already have a lot of our classes suspended because of the coronavirus right now,” Zhang said. “So, we worry that there is going to be like a spread of the disease because of the people interacting with each other."

Pre-nursing sophomore Josie Smith said she was unaware of the announcement and found out through Stanley’s email. 

“It’s surprising,” Smith said. “It's sad, too. I'm sorry that the people are sick. ... I honestly think that university could provide more instruction on universal health practices, like students washing your hands, not touching your face."

Accounting senior Eric Burley said he believes the university was right to take precautions early to avoid later fall out. 

“I think it's better (to) stay on the side of caution, especially with the students,” Burley said. “I think they definitely want to make sure that, 'Hey, let's just get this right right now, even if we have to cancel classes a little early, it's better to be safe with it then be late on it.'”

Debaker and Burley both said they plan to stay on campus. Other students said they were quick to make arrangements to head home. 

The university has been hanging signs around campus for students to be cautious.

Burley said the possibility of online classes should have been addressed to instructors sooner, as most found out when the students did and had little time to prepare. 

“Because I have a bunch of classes that I have to do group presentations in. ... I don't think they're going to happen now,” Burley said. “But I get that, you know, no one really probably saw this coming.”

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