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Michigan State to go virtual for start of spring semester

michigan state university sign in front of a blue sky

Michigan State University is going virtual for the start of the upcoming semester.

MSU president Dr. Samuel Stanley Jr. says most classes will be virtual-only for at least the first three weeks of the semester. Some labs, and other classes that have to meet in person will still do so. And Stanley says dorms and dining halls will remain open for students who want to return to campus.

“I realize that students prefer to be in person, and so do I,” Stanley wrote in a letter to students and staff on Friday. “But it is important that we do so in a safe manner. Starting the semester remotely and de-densifying campus in the coming weeks can be a solution to slowing the spread of the virus.”

Friday's announcement came just two days after Stanley sent out a separate letter, confirming in-person classes for the spring semester. But since that first letter went out, Stanley noted Michigan set a new record for daily confirmed cases of COVID-19.

“Given this intense surge in cases, we now feel the best decision for our campus is to start classes primarily remotely on Jan. 10 and for at least the first three weeks of the semester,” Stanley wrote Friday.

He said MSU employees may also start the spring semester with remote work, if possible, and if approved by a supervisor.

Oakland University and Wayne State University also plan to start the upcoming semester with virtual classes.

The superintendent for the Detroit Public Schools Community District announcedFriday there will be no online or in-person school Monday through Wednesday next week. Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said that's because of the city's all-time high COVID test positivity rate of 36%.

Ann Arbor Public Schools also announced on Friday that schools will shift to virtual learning when school resumes next Wednesday. The school district said it's hoping for a return to in-person learning on Monday January 10.

This story has been updated with additional information about the changes Ann Arbor Public Schools and the Detroit Public Schools Community District announced on Friday.

Dustin Dwyer reports enterprise and long-form stories from Michigan Public’s West Michigan bureau. He was a fellow in the class of 2018 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. He’s been with Michigan Public since 2004, when he started as an intern in the newsroom.