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Lansing Community College goes mostly online for fall amid coronavirus

Related: What we know about Michigan college plans in fall amid coronavirus

Lansing Community College has announced that three-quarters of classes will be online in the fall, the latest indication that Michigan campus life will be far from normal because of continuing fears about the coronavirus pandemic

Faculty of the large commuter campus, with a main campus just a few blocks from the state capitol, were told most classes will be online in a letter last week from Provost Sally Welch. Welch confirmed the plan to Bridge Thursday.

Tuition rates will be the same for classes that are online or on-campus, but a $25 virtual learning fee will be removed for online classes.

Public universities, private colleges and community colleges are huddling to create plans for the fall that keep students and staff safe but also continue education.

LCC is one of just a handful of schools so far to formally announce plans for the fall. Jackson College (also a state community college, located in Jackson), announced in early April that all classes in the fall semester will be online.

Oakland University will take a hybrid approach, with many courses online, and in-person classes moved to large rooms to facilitate social distancing. Everyone will be required to wear face masks while on the Oakland campus.

Northern Michigan University announced Thursday that it will return to in-person classes in the fall.

At LCC, all classes that do not require a hands-on lab will be fully online for the fall semester, Welch said. 

Those that require hands-on work to earn certification, such as welding, heavy equipment repair, robotics and training courses for emergency medical technicians and phlebotomy will have some coursework online, and some classes on-campus but with greatly reduced number of students in class at a time.

“Part of the problem with face-to-face (classes) is the social distancing you need,” Welch said. “If we limit the number of courses that are hands-on, we can move them around on campus to keep students separate.”

Welch estimated that about 130 course offerings out of more than 500 will have some classes on-campus.

“The faculty have done an amazing job trying to adapt,” Welch said. “But there are some (classes) you just can’t do online.”

Mike Hansen, president of the Michigan Community College Association, said it’s likely that fall semesters look different across the state’s 28 community college campuses. 

“Some have made a commitment to be online, some want to start online and see what happens, some are taking more of a wait-and-see attitude.”

“Everybody (at the state’s community colleges) is all over the place,” Welch said. “Say we came back to campus full-force in the fall and someone comes into a class and tests positive? Then everyone in the class has to be quarantined.

“There are so many unknowns out there, and not enough testing to know who has it (and) who doesn’t,” Welch said. “We’re academics and we want to find answers, and we can’t.”

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