Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, The State News has kept a close eye on the university.
We quickly reported on the first confirmed COVID-19 cases in Michigan in spring 2020 and covered the instant shift from in-person to virtual classes. We were ready and kept track when MSU announced at the end of May 2020 we’d be having an in-person fall 2020 semester. We understood when the plug was pulled and a vast majority of classes were shifted to an online format, days before students were set to move into their dorms.
As students, we had our own questions — ones we always asked and sometimes they were answered.
This time feels different.
Roundabout answers aren’t new to us, but if there’s ever been a time we needed them to be direct, it’s now.
A headline as simple as, “MSU is requiring vaccines, masks for students, faculty and staff,” suddenly feels complex.
Students are returning to campus and so is COVID-19. Students are learning of potential exposures via confidential messages through the Office of the Registrar. Messages that make the next step for the student who tested positive and those around them — vaccinated and unvaccinated — unclear.
When some professors asked to hold classes virtually, their requests were denied by the provost’s office. When students said they were uncomfortable with being in person after an exposure, the university spokesperson said students should contact the professor for accommodations.
There are apparent miscommunications within the university: if our professors and staff don’t know what protocol should be, how would the students?
MSU talked a big game about making sure things are handled safely during the pandemic, but now that we’re at our most vulnerable state having people back in East Lansing, there is a lack of direct communication to the students, staff and faculty at the university.
We understand this is a stressful time, but being open about plans and initiatives to keep people safe should be the priority.
The miscommunication and lack of transparency has instilled fear in students. What if they don’t want to go back to the class one of their peers tested positive for COVID-19 in? How will they stay up to date on their in-person classes if in quarantine?
Students should be able to ask for accommodations in a situation in which they may feel unsafe after being exposed to a virus that led to 18 months of almost entirely virtual school. Most importantly, that should be clearly communicated.
We understand nobody has all the answers to this continuously-changing pandemic, but as students who have adapted to everything it has thrown our way since March 2020, we are tired of feeling blindsided.
MSU, we’re not only asking you to figure out how you want to protect students, staff and faculty best, but to be open and honest about whatever decisions you come to. There are some things people shouldn’t need to rely on us to know.
The State News Editorial Board is composed of Editor-in-Chief Karly Graham, Managing Editor Jayna Bardahl, City Editor Griffin Wiles, Culture Editor Dina Kaur, Sports Editor Eli McKown, Multimedia Editors Lauren DeMay and Chandra Fleming, Copy Chief SaMya Overall, Social Media Manager Jillie Gretzinger and Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator Tessa Jazwinski.
Campus Editor Wendy Guzman and Staff Rep. Morgan Womack did not sit in for this editorial.
This article is a part of our Sept. 14 print issue. Check out the full issue here.
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