Michigan State Explores Options from Normal to Remote Operations for Fall

May 14, 2020, 4:29 PM by  Allan Lengel

Samuel L. Stanley Jr.: "The unknown far exceeds what we can know."

Michigan State University has established a reopening campus task force to explore scenarios for fall including fully normal classes, continued remote operations or a variety of blended options.

"What might such intermediate options look like?," asks MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. in a newsletter to Spartans. "To help us manage the risk, cloth masks and hand sanitizer could be issued to all who return to campus. Large classes could be replaced by hybrid courses with smaller classroom groups staggered through the week, augmented by online lectures.

"We will be further refining contact tracing protocols in collaboration with local health departments. We could adjust the academic year to be able to conclude the semester by Thanksgiving, reducing trips to home communities that could increase the risk of transmission." 

The task force is chaired by Norman Beauchamp, executive vice president for heakth sciences, and university physician David Weismantel,

Stanley notes that universities around the nation are under tremendous pressure to resume something close to normal activities in the fall, and "some are making bold pronouncements to that effect."

But he said he's proceeding with caution, noting that before becoming president, he was a physician and infectious disease research executive.

"I can assure you: Safety will continue to be Michigan State’s guiding principle," he says. "At this moment, the unknown far exceeds what we can know about the public health picture and governmental responses that will be in effect in late summer, here in Michigan or anywhere. We must not only consider the health of our student body, faculty and staff, but also their families and our community."

"At the same time, we must do everything we can to ensure the continued forward motion of this university and the success of our students."

He said the university faces tough financial times, noting there could be revenue losses as high as $60 million in the fiscal year ending June 30, and between $150 million and $300 million in next fiscal year. 

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