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Michigan State to bring students back to campus in fall amid coronavirus

Students will return to the Michigan State University campus this fall.

What exactly college life will look like in East Lansing, though, is yet to be determined.

MSU President Samuel Stanley announced Wednesday in a letter to students, staff and faculty that the Big Ten campus will reopen for the fall semester. Classes will begin Sept. 2 and continue on campus through Nov. 25.

After the Thanksgiving break, though, the last three weeks of the semester and final exams will be online, Stanley wrote. If there is a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic,  it will likely hit in the fall, according to health experts.  MSU joins a handful of other universities in crafting schedules to get students and staff off campus for longer periods than typical school years.

“This plan is designed to address epidemiologic models that suggest a potential resurgence in COVID-19 cases in December and give students the opportunity to return to their permanent residences before peak influenza season if they choose,” wrote Stanley, who is a medical doctor. 

“We recognize that some students may choose not to return to campus for health or other reasons, and we will endeavor to provide an enhanced selection of remote classes that allow them to begin or continue progress toward their Michigan State University degree.”

Most of Michigan’s public universities have now announced plans for the fall semester that, to varying degrees, acknowledge the unprecedented health concerns caused by COVID-19. More than 5,000 Michigan residents have died from the virus since mid-March.

The University of Michigan has yet to announce fall plans for its three campuses.

Stanley’s letter did not detail what health precautions would be taken on the 50,000-student campus. Some colleges have announced that everyone on their campuses must wear face masks, and that classes will be altered to allow for social distancing.

Nor did the letter address whether sports teams will play in the fall, or if fans would be allowed to watch games in Spartan Stadium.

“Work has been proceeding for some time in critical areas, including alterations to our academic calendar, approaches to contact tracing and testing, managing our residence halls, and allocating and scheduling our class spaces,” Stanley wrote.

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