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Virus concerns delay students’ return to Eastern Michigan dorms

Eastern Michigan University logo
Wikimedia Commons

Students cannot move into their dorms on the Eastern Michigan University campus for at least three weeks, and classes will remain online during that period to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the school said Monday.

Student move-in at the Ypsilanti school had been scheduled to start Thursday, but the residence halls will remain closed through Sept. 17, Eastern Michigan said in a news release. Classes begin Aug. 31 but will be online through Sept. 20, it said.

Colleges across the U.S. have been canceling classes or transitioning to virtual learning this fall after virus cases spiked when students returned to campuses.

The University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, canceled in-person undergraduate classes for two week s because of a coronavirus outbreak after the semester began Aug. 10. The university traced that to off-campus gatherings where no one wore masks or observed social distancing recommendations.

Eastern Michigan officials had been watching how schools elsewhere struggled to limit student social gatherings and parties.

“From the outset of our planning process, we have stated that the health, safety and well-being of our campus community were paramount in our actions,” said James Smith, Eastern Michigan president. “The events of the last week at campuses across the region and nation demonstrate that despite the best efforts to keep students, employees and communities safe from transmission, the dangers of increasing the spread of the virus and the challenges of maintaining physical distance and safe behavior heading into Labor Day weekend remain quite serious.”

A small number of international students and student-athletes have already moved into residence halls and will be allowed to remain if they choose, the school said.

Eastern Michigan has about 18,000 students. In-person, on-campus courses were scheduled to make up about 20-25% of its classes this fall.