Michigan colleges plan for fall instruction amid pandemic

Jun 1, 2020

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Michigan colleges and universities are making plans for resuming instruction in the fall, but officials are still uncertain about how institutions will function due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Some Michigan schools are preparing for in class meetings and lots of social distancing, while others are opting to continue classes online, The Detroit News reported. TAll of the schools are considering different approaches in their plans to reopen after in-person classes were cancelled this spring.

Oakland University still expects to start with a welcome week in September as students move into dormitories and attend classes. But everyone will be expected to wear a mask and there will be periodic testing.

“I consider the health and safety of my campus to be my primary responsibility,” said Ora Pescovtiz, the university president. “It’s even more important than educating the students. I can’t educate them effectively if my campus isn’t safe.”

To encourage social distancing, Oakland University’s classes will be staggered and may be scheduled in the evenings and on weekends. Residential suites will hold two people instead of four, and student bathrooms will be professionally cleaned on occasion.

M. Roy Wilson, president of Wayne State University, said he didn’t know how the campus could open in the fall. The school is located in Detroit, the state’s epicenter for the virus, and has lost two students to the virus.

“We don’t have all the answers to that yet,” Wilson said during a virtual town hall meeting last week. “When you really think about it, that’s three months away. I always try to remind people that three months ago, it was a very different situation here.”

Northern Michigan University and Lake Superior State University are starting their fall semesters in August so that they end by Thanksgiving.

“One of the great things about public higher education in Michigan is that we have 15 distinct universities and each university is in a different location and has different structures and how they approach these issues can differ,” Northern Michigan President Fritz Erickson said.

Jackson College, a community college in Summit Township, will have virtual classes in the fall.

Western Michigan University is considering a hybrid model similar to the one planned for Oakland University, including changing cleaning requirements and expanding testing capability.

“If anything, the virus has reinforced the importance of education as a source of stability and long-term career impact,” Western Michigan President Edward Montgomery said. “It is still absolutely critical investment that will pay off for parents and students.”