Michigan State University Announces Online Learning Only-Asks Students to Stay Home

In an unprecedented decision with only a week away from students returning to campus, MSU President Dr. Samuel L. Stanley announced that there will be no campus learning this fall. 

A letter from Dr. to students states “given the current status of the virus in our country — particularly what we are seeing at other institutions as they re-populate their campus communities — it has become evident to me that, despite our best efforts and strong planning, it is unlikely we can prevent widespread transmission of COVID-19 between students if our undergraduates return to campus.”   

This announcement comes as a shock to many as the University had no indication that they would reverse their decision to bringing students back on campus. Dr. Stanley also confirmed in the letter that students are asked to stay home.

MSU’s move also comes after Notre Dame University announced it is canceling in-person classes and switching to online learning for the next two weeks after a surge in coronavirus classes on campus. Students had been back to its campus for more than two weeks when the news of the all-online learning was made Tuesday. 

Notre Dame’s President Rev. John Jenkins also was scheduled to tell students Tuesday per the Wall Street Journal that he could ask students to leave campus and return home if cases of coronavirus continue to climb. Two off-campus parties are said to have caused this particular spike, the Journal reported.

Around the nation, the story is similar: Ithaca College in New York also decided Tuesday not to bring students back to campus and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said Monday it would move its undergraduate classes online for the fall.

“This was an agonizing decision that I made in consultation with the members of my senior leadership team, informed by the best thinking of so many members of our college community and data around the evolution of this pandemic,” said Ithaca College President Shirley M. Collado in a statement. “Personally, this saddens me greatly, and I have sincerely missed seeing our campus activated with our students’ energy and their zest for learning and for life. I also know how very much our students want to return to IC — we have heard your voices so clearly.

“However, the reality of COVID-19 is deeply concerning,” Collado’s statement added. “This pandemic has infected more than 5.4 million people in the United States and has taken the lives of more than 170,000. We have been fortunate in New York State, and specifically in the Ithaca area, to currently have a low prevalence of infections. These numbers are encouraging, but we have learned from watching other communities how delicate this equilibrium is, and how quickly it can be disrupted.”

The University of Michigan had said its students will return to campus and the university will offer both in-person education as well as virtual learning.

At MSU, off-campus students are being encouraged to remain home, Dr. Stanley’s letter said.

“So, effective immediately, we are asking undergraduate students who planned to live in our residence halls this fall to stay home and continue their education with MSU remotely,” his letter states. “While a vast majority of our classes already were offered in remote formats, we will work the next two weeks to transition those that were in-person or hybrid to remote formats.”

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