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Here's what Michigan State, other universities plan for this fall

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News
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Most Michigan State University students will be returning to in-person classes in the fall and spectators are expected to be in the stands for sporting events, President Samuel Stanley announced Friday.

Stanley, in a message to the MSU community, said 75% of undergraduate classes will be held in-person when the next academic year begins in August. Other classes will be held in a hybrid format and some will remain online, especially those that would traditionally be held in large lecture halls.

The Beaumont Tower stands on central campus from scenes around MSU's East Lansing campus on July 2, 2018.

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Stanley said a residence hall experience will be offered to first-year students and athletic activities will be open to spectators while MSU follows state attendance guidelines.

"Making decisions now about the future of our university is not an easy task, as the pandemic has shown us," Stanley wrote. "With vaccinations continuing to progress, we are optimistic that we can begin to safely transition during the summer and move toward more in-person experiences in the fall — all while continuing to prioritize the health and well-being of our students, faculty and staff."

MSU summer classes will be held online although some students will be living on campus over the summer. Overnight summer camps and conferences are canceled, although some day camps may occur and campus tours will resume.

Other universities in Michigan are beginning to reveal what is expected on campus this fall.

Ferris State University announced this week it is planning in-person classes.

“With the extremely low number of COVID-19 cases on our campus and in our community, and with vaccines now available, we look forward to providing a fully in-person learning experience for our students," Ferris State President David Eisler said. 

Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson addressed the fall semester during his Feb. 23 address to the community and posted on his Instagram account. Wilson said there is a restart committee that has been meeting regularly and he predicted that classes would be mostly in-person.

"We've been pretty conservative thus far and we've tried to not say things that we have to walk back," Wilson said. "This is a difficult one to really know for sure ... My best guess is that we will be predominantly face to face. It's going to be modified and we will still be social distancing. We probably won't have huge classrooms of 200-300 people. We'll spread out more."

Wilson said because COVID-19 cases and deaths have plummeted he expects vaccine supply to outpace demand by late April.

"I believe most of the classes, or many of the classes, will be face to face," Wilson said.

University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel said last month that plans for the fall semester are underway and officials are monitoring the virus and vaccination efforts nationwide.

A University of Michigan students walk along S. State Street in Ann Arbor on Tuesday, January 9, 2021.

"Although we aren't quite ready to announce formal plans, I want to share our current thinking: We are optimistic that fall will look and feel much more like a normal academic and residential term at UM," Schlissel said.

The UM president said various scenarios are being looked at based on what percentage of faculty, students and staff are able to get the vaccine by fall, and he expressed hope that COVID-19 vaccine supply will outpace demand later this year.

"Our goal is to offer a more normal semester, while still protecting health and safety," Schlissel said. "We may continue to need to mitigate risks by wearing masks and limiting the size of gatherings, but we should be able to allow more in-person instruction and residential and on-campus experiences for our students."


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