Ferris State latest in Michigan to return students in fall amid coronavirus

Ferris State

Ferris State University, in rural northwest Michigan, will bring students back to campus in the fall. (Courtesy photo)

Ferris State University announced Tuesday that students will return to campus in the fall.

The 13,000-student campus in Big Rapids becomes the seventh of the state’s 15 public universities to announce fall plans, with six schools moving ahead with in-person classes despite continued health concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

The state’s largest public universities — Michigan State University and the University of Michigan — have yet to unveil plans.

Ferris State President David Eisler made the announcement in a virtual town hall meeting Tuesday morning. In a news release after the town hall, Eisler expressed optimism that the campus could safely resume education and residential life.

“Additionally, the university has developed plans to move back to remote delivery should conditions require it,” Eisler said. “We are also developing online learning opportunities for students who may desire them and remote instructional accommodations for faculty who may be in high-risk categories.”

Ferris officials are reviewing classrooms to ensure the ability for students to maintain social distancing, and are boosting campus cleaning.

Michigan’s public universities, private colleges and community colleges closed in-person classes in March and switched to remote learning to slow the spread of COVID-19, which has so far killed more than 4,500 Michigan residents.

With a vaccine unlikely by September, universities are wrestling with how to offer quality education to students, while also avoiding putting students, faculty and staff in danger.

Colleges around the country that have decided on fall plans have reached different decisions. 

California State University’s 23 campuses, with almost 500,000 students in a state with fewer coronavirus cases per capita than Michigan, announced Tuesday that its campuses will be largely online for the fall semester, with exceptions made for hands-on lab classes. Those plans are similar to ones announced in Michigan by Oakland University, in hard-hit Oakland County, and Lansing Community College.

The president of the Ivy League’s Brown University said the school plans to return to in-person classes. As of Tuesday, six Michigan public universities — Ferris State, Grand Valley State, Central Michigan, Northern Michigan, Michigan Tech and Lake Superior State — have announced students will return in September.

Ferris State is located in rural Mecosta County, bordering the Huron Manistee National Forest, an area that, so far, has not been a hot spot for the virus. As of Tuesday, there were 16 confirmed cases in Mecosta County and two deaths.

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Tue, 05/12/2020 - 10:51pm

This university is chock full of useless arts and humanities programs - One could only hope that all of this chaff were done away with and only the real (i.e., worth the expenditure) degree programs were kept. Alas, this is a pipe dream - The mafia unions would never let their useless degenerate comrades fall - Corruption is as corruption does. It's too bad that unions and tenure are allowed in Taxpayer-funded universities. Hopefully this is corrected someday.

A Yooper
Wed, 05/13/2020 - 11:07am

The California State University system is totally online this fall.
Too bad MI can't see the benefits of this.
Sure, the will lose some $$ from no dorm fees, food service $$ etc., but there will also be savings from less heat/AC, less electricity for lights and equipment, buildings maintenance, etc.
A good idea.

Wed, 05/13/2020 - 5:39pm

Are you kidding me?
Even my neighbor's kids are smart enough to say that they will not go back in the fall if their classes are online - Maybe that's because they are paying for a good part of their own education! They understand what you get in an online class vs. real-world instruction!
You've lost it, yooper! Never known a yooper this crazy. Are you sure you're not from Detroit?