Central Michigan plans in-person classes this fall

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News

Central Michigan University on Monday joined a growing number of state universities that are planning to  hold in-person instruction for students in the fall. 

President Robert Davies made the announcement, adding that the university based in Mount Pleasant will offer remote and online options for students and faculty who are unable to return to campus.

"The health and safety of our students, faculty and staff remains our top priority, and we will continue to closely follow guidance from local, state and national health leaders as we move forward with plans to resume in-person instruction," Davies said.

But he cautioned that the campus might look different.

"COVID-19 has changed the way higher education will be delivered in the future and requires us to think creatively and innovatively about our operations at CMU."

CMU joins other universities that formally have announced they would hold in-person instruction in fall. Among them are Grand Valley State University and the three public universities in the Upper Peninsula — Michigan Technological, Northern Michigan and Lake Superior State universities. Lake Superior has also announced that it will begin the fall semester early on Aug. 10.

"We do not take this decision lightly," said Northern Michigan President Fritz Erickson. "We feel confident that every precaution will be taken to protect our entire campus community, while being able to provide a robust learning and living experience for students. We want to deliver the unique, personalized Northern experience that draws students here and that they have come to expect.”

Meanwhile, Oakland University announced a "hybrid" fall semester with online and in-person instruction.

Unofficially, the presidents of the University of Michigan and Wayne State and Michigan State universities recently hinted at which way they are leaning for fall 2020.

UM President Mark Schlissel said the Ann Arbor-based school was hoping for a public health-informed semester in the fall with in-person instruction, reduced building density and more. Wayne State President M. Roy Wilson said the Detroit-based university was "unlikely" to have in-person classes in fall, while MSU President Samuel Stanley said the East Lansing-based school was planning for online classes.

At CMU, plans are underway that will impact teaching, student support services and events. It will include social distancing in shared spaces, such as classrooms, offices and event venues.

The university has also said it will reduce the number of students living in each residential suite. Additionally, an on-campus isolation and quarantine space has been established in the event of new cases of COVID-19 in the community.

Davies said the university has established new protocols for cleaning and disinfecting these areas.

"Our university is committed to the ideals of innovation and excellence," he said. "We have the right people and the right resources for a successful academic year."