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U of M, MSU, and more suspend face-to-face classes as precaution against spread of coronavirus

University of Michigan near Rackham and Michigan League
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
Students walk on the University of Michigan's Ann Arbor campus (file photo)

A number of universities in Michigan are suspending face-to-face classes now that there are known cases of COVID-19 in the state.

The University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Michigan Tech, Central Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University, Wayne State University, Western Michigan University, Northern Michigan University, and Oakland University all announced Wednesday that they will be moving to online classes. 

The length of the suspension varies from school to school. 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer confirmed the state's first two presumptive positives, in Oakland and Wayne counties, late Tuesday.

Other universities throughout the country have cancelled classes and/or moved to online learning, including the University of Toledo and Ohio State University

Read more about the details from each university below:

University of Michigan 

The University of Michigan announced Wednesday afternoon that all classes will be cancelled Thursday, March 12 and Friday, March 13. Classes will resume "remotely in alternative formats" Monday, March 16 through April 21, the last day of the semester.

According to the announcement, "The two days of cancellations give faculty time to transition to alternative formats. The provost’s offices on each of our campuses have been making arrangements in our schools and colleges to facilitate these transitions."

In his press release, President Mark Schlissel did not urge students to leave campus, but did say for those "who choose to remain on campus," Michigan Dining and U-M Housing will remain operational.

All events with more than 100 individuals are cancelled until at least April 21. University sports will continue, but attendees for home games will be limited to student-athletes, coaches, officials, essential personnel, and a limit of two family members per participant in attendance. According to the statement, "credentialed media and broadcast partners will be accommodated at games and encouraged to utilize social distancing." Single-ticket holders will be refunded on a rolling basis, and season-ticket holders will receive a partial refund for the impacted games at the end of the season. 

Additionally, all outside-hosted events through April 21 have been cancelled. The open spring football practice, scheduled for April 18, has also been cancelled.

U of M-sponsored international travel is suspended until that date as well, and domestic travel is strongly discouraged. All study abroad programs scheduled for the upcoming spring semester are cancelled. Programs that begin July 1 or later will be decided on in the weeks to come.

The changes apply to all three University of Michigan campuses. 

You can see the latest updates from U of M here.

Michigan State University

Michigan State University cancelled all face-to-face classes effective noon Wednesday until April 20th. Courses will be moved to online learning.

In a press release, the university said there is a probable case linked to the campus, and that the Ingham County Health Department is investigating and monitoring.

MSU is urging students who can return to their permanent residence to do so, but says the campus will remain open, as will residence halls and dining facilities for those unable to go home. 

No events with more than 100 individuals "in a confined space" will be scheduled within this time period, "unless there are special circumstances," according to the school's information page.  

Spokesperson Dan Olson told Michigan Radio, "Michigan State’s athletic teams are preparing for postseason and regular-season competition as scheduled. Daily team activities and practices will continue as we monitor the situation. Decisions for team travel are determined on a case-by-case basis and by the department’s leadership team, although there are no changes to announce at this point."

The university previously suspended all nonessential university-sponsored travel to mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Italy.

You can see the latest updates from MSU here.

Central Michigan University

At CMU, classes will move online after spring break through March 20. Classes resume after spring break on March 16, but students are being advised not to return to campus.

The decision was made "out of an abundance of caution, and to prevent and contain the spread of the coronavirus." CMU's campus will remain open, and business operations will continue "with appropriate measure to protect the community."

All CMU-sponsored events or gatherings of more than 50 people are canceled through March 31, including student events. No new events will be scheduled before March 31.

There are currently no known cases connected with Central Michigan.

You can see the latest updates from CMU here.

Michigan Tech 

Michigan Tech's suspension of face-to-face classes takes effect Monday, March 16 until at least Friday, April 17. Like the other universities, Tech's campus, dining services, and residential housing will remain open and operational.

In an email to students and faculty, President Rick Koubek said,  "The health, safety, and security of our campus is of utmost importance and a tenet on which we pride ourselves as an institution." He added that these actions are being taken to mitgate the impacts associated with the potential spread of COVID-19. 

Anyone who has traveled to a Level 2 or Level 3 country will not be allowed to return to campus for a 14 day period. According to the email, "Employees and students who have traveled to a Level 2 or Level 3 country or have reason to believe they have been exposed should immediately contact the university."

You can see the latest updates from Michigan Tech here.

Wayne State University

Wayne State says it will extend its spring break until March 23, and plans to shift to online classes after that. Spring break was previously scheduled to end March 14.

President M. Roy Wilson said in a statement, "This is not an unexpected development and, as we have communicated, we have been preparing for this scenario. Wayne State University, like other institutions, has an important role to play in containing the spread of this virus. To date, we have chosen a proactive approach to help ensure the safety of our campus community."

Students are "strongly encouraged" to return to their permanent place of residence. Campus housing and dining services will remain open for those who are unable to live off-campus. Officials are urging safe dining practices, including social distancing, and students will be encouraged to choose take-out options.

Wayne State will cancel all events with 100 people or more, per CDC guidelines. Any university-sponsored international air travel will be prohibted effective Wednesday.

You can see the latest updates from Wayne State University here.

Oakland University

Oakland University announced Wednesday that all in-person classes are suspended begining at 5 p.m. that day, and will be replaced with "remote learning" beginning Monday, March 16. Courses currently offered online will continue as scheduled. 

The remote learning courses will continue through the end of the semester, April 25. 

"At this exceptionally challenging time for our campus, we must work together to protect the health and well-being of our Oakland University community," Oakland President Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, M.D., said in a statement. "In times like these, I have no doubt in the abilities, perseverance and commitment of our faculty, students and staff to collaborate as we navigate this unfolding, and difficult situation."

On-campus housing and dining service will be available to students during this period. The university also suspended all university-sponsored international and domestic travel until further notice. 

To see the full statement from Oakland, head here

Eastern Michigan University

Updated March 18 at 6:16 p.m.: Eastern Michigan University has now extended online instruction through the end of the winter semester, Monday, April 27. 

Orignal post:

Beginning March 12, face-to-face instruction in courses and lectures will be cancelled, and will extend through Tuesday, March 31. In-person classes are tentatively set to begin again Wednesday, April 1. Current online classes will continue as scheduled. In-person classes will be moved to an online format beginning Monday, March 16.

Students are encouraged to return to their permanent places of residence, however, residence halls and dining facilities will remain open. 

Additionally, all university events have been cancelled through the end of March, with no plans to schedule new events. All university related domestic and international travel has been suspended.

"Every step we take and decision we make is focused on this overarching priority: protecting the health and safety of our campus community and guests to our campus," President James Smith said in a statement. 

For more information, visit the school's COVID-19 website

Western Michigan University

Beginning March 16, all classes at Western Michigan will be delivered as "distant education" through Friday, April 3. In-person instruction will be suspended March 12 and 13. 

"This measure is being taken to ensure continued campus safety and help slow the spread of the illness, which helps ease demand on health care systems now and in the coming days and weeks," President Edward Montgomery said in a statement. "There remain no known cases of COVID-19 on campus."

WMU sites will remain open and services will continue unless otherwise specified. Residence halls and dining facilities will remain fully operational. 

Additionally, all events with over 100 in attendance will be cancelled.

For more information, visit the university's COVID-19 website.

Northern Michigan University

All classes, labs, and campus-wide events have been canceled Thursday, March 12 and Friday, March 13 at Northern Michigan University. All face-to-face classes will continue in an online format beginning Monday, March 16 and will continue that way through April 3. 

Residence halls and student dining services will remain open, but with "some functional changes." Additionally, all events of 150 or more will be canceled in March and April. 

Find out more here.

This is a developing story. This post was last updated Wednesday, March 12 at 10:40 a.m.

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Emma is a communications specialist with the digital team at Michigan Radio. She works across all departments at Michigan Radio, with a hand in everything from digital marketing and fundraising to graphic design and website maintenance. She also produces the station's daily newsletter, The Michigan Radio Beat.
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