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Wayne State amid coronavirus: few in-person classes, mandatory face masks

Wayne State University will be open for business this fall, but most classes will be online.

A letter sent to the school’s 27,000 students Wednesday by Wayne State President Roy Wilson said about one in five classes will be traditional, in-person instruction, with the rest being online or remote, a hybrid that brings students to campus occasionally, or arranged individually between professors and students.

Everyone on campus will wear face masks, according to the letter, which you can read here.

“Campus life and learning will look different than they did in February, and we have new guidelines and procedures in place, to accommodate physical distancing and prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus,” Wilson told students. “Although things have changed, we remain firmly committed to our academic mission.”

Wayne State is the last of the state’s 15 public universities to announce fall reopening plans. All are having at least some face-to-face instruction, with the amount of campus activity and social distancing varying by campus.

Wayne State is located in the heart of Detroit, the hardest-hit city in the state during the pandemic. There have been more than 12,000 confirmed cases in the city alone, and 1,461 deaths through Tuesday (24 percent of all COVID-19 deaths in Michigan).

A handful of universities around the country, including Harvard University and the Cal State system of colleges, have announced plans to be fully online for the fall semester. Wayne State’s fall plan – to reopen but have the majority of classes online to limit student and staff interaction on campus – is similar to the safety precautions taken at many of Michigan’s public universities.

In the letter to students, Wilson said campus plans could still change if the pandemic worsens. Highlights of the current plan include:

  • Coronavirus testing at move-in for all students in campus housing, along with occasional testing during the year. Wayne State has capacity for 3,000 students to live on campus.
  • Daily, self-reported health screenings that must be completed online. Students must have those screenings approved and receive a QR code to enter campus.
  • Face masks must be worn in all public spaces. Students will receive Wayne State-branded face masks.
  • Extra cleaning and the arrangement of classroom, library and cafeteria furniture to encourage social-distancing.
  • No decision on fall sports. All intercollegiate athletes will be tested for COVID-19 and receive temperature checks before entering student athletic buildings.
  • The school is not increasing tuition for the 2020-21 school year, but it won’t offer discounts for online courses.  

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