Michigan State students will return to the East Lansing campus this fall, President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. announced in a letter to the MSU community Wednesday.
Classes with both in-person and online components will begin on Sept. 2 as scheduled, and the university plans to end all in-person instruction Nov. 25. Final exams and the remaining three weeks of the semester will be remote. At that point, students will have the option of returning home for Thanksgiving or remaining on campus for the remainder of the semester.
Stanley also acknowledged that some students may choose not to return to campus, and they will work to provide an enhanced selection of remote classes to continue their progress to an MSU degree.
He added that large gatherings will be strictly limited and regulated, as this all has to be done responsibly.
“For teaching, this will almost certainly entail the continued use of some online and remote classes while adding more hybrid classes and resuming some purely in-person options,” Stanley said in the letter. “We can and will do this in a responsible manner that works to mitigate risk to the entire university community while preserving the high quality of an MSU education, our extension mission, our world-class research and the social interactions that make MSU special.”
Stanley noted social distancing practices and wearing face masks will be essential.
With the adjustments to the semester's schedule, the university will forego the previously-announced pilot fall break, which would have been held Oct. 26 and 27. In the letter, Stanley said the school hopes to return to the fall break in the future.
This decision was reached in part through the perspectives of members of the Reopening Campus Task Force, chaired by Executive Vice President for Health Sciences Norman Beauchamp Jr. and University Physician David Weismantel.
The task force has completed its initial work, which included establishing principles for determining when and how to return to campus activities safely, establishing criteria to determine the university's ability to safely return, establishing guidelines and protocols for units to follow as the campus opens back up, identifying what decisions will apply university-wide as well as clarifying what decisions can be made by individuals and individual units.
Stanley said the plan was designed to address epidemiologic models that suggest a potential resurgence in COVID-19 cases in December and to give students the opportunity to return to their permanent residences before peak influenza season.
He also said to expect MSU to continue making decisions based on orders from the state and what is best for the community.
“The last three months have been unprecedented and difficult in so many ways, and for many in our community, devastating," Stanley said. COVID-19 has disrupted and affected the lives of all of our Spartans. But you have stepped up, overcome difficulties and pushed not only yourselves but our entire community forward. Together, we will navigate the new challenges, and together we will find a path forward to continue our vital pioneering land grant mission.”
This is a developing story. Stay with The State News for more updates on the coronavirus pandemic and how it's impacting the Michigan State and East Lansing communities.