(Photo credit: Cory Morse | MLive.com, Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020)
As fall semester has begun, many universities around Michigan have taken different approaches to the semester. Some offering only remote learning, some opting for hybrid courses and others bringing students back into the classroom. Even campuses with the most extreme restrictions in place are experiencing uncontrolled outbreaks due to students living back on campus and in college communities. Across Michigan, we’re seeing spikes of COVID-19 that can be traced back to college campuses.
Here are a few Michigan campuses experiencing outbreaks now:
Michigan State University
This week, Michigan State University has seen unprecedented spikes of Covid-19 outbreaks. This has led to the Ingham County Health Department suggesting 40,000 students quarantine for 14 days, until 11:59 on Saturday, September 26th. The outbreaks can be narrowed down to large gatherings that have taken place on campus housing and specifically include seven large rental houses and 23 sorority and fraternity houses who have multiple members who have tested positive.
University of Michigan
Students and staff at the University of Michigan have been disappointed with the administration’s handling of COVID-19. Few restrictions were placed on campus housing, classes, and other campus facilities leading to inevitable outbreaks on campus. Many students experiencing COVID-19 that are subjected to quarantine housing have raised the alarm on ill prepared facilities and conditions. This, along with lack of transparency, has led to strikes on campus among graduate students and resident assistants who fear the administration is putting them at risk.
Grand Valley State University
A student stay-in-place quarantine order has been implemented by The Ottawa County Department of Public Health amid an outbreak on Grand Valley State University’s campus. Within the order, students are required to stay in their residence, except to attend class, obtain food, medicine and medical care, for medically supervised athletic practice, for worship and religious practices, or for employment. Over 2,000 students and counting have signed a petition stating that the stay-in-place order is too lenient and leaves students and faculty at risk.
Western Michigan University
Like many other campuses across Michigan, cases have been exponentially growing on Western Michigan University’s campus. However, even with these spikes, administrators at the school have remained committed to preventing a campus-wide shut down. Instead they shared they will re-assess specific areas of campus that may be able to be shut down, but want to keep parts of the University open for students who require in-person instruction to graduate. This has been met with pushback from students concerned about their health and safety, stating that they believe WMU is unprepared with a plan to control outbreaks.
Overall, universities, colleges and K-12 school districts all over the State have been experiencing cases of COVID-19 since school re-opened. However, outbreaks on campuses have been particularly difficult to control. Many universities, including MSU and U of M, have noted that their tracking systems to show cases on campus are flawed and only show positive case data collected by on-campus medical facilities, not those that are taking place in the greater community. Michigan health officials have been closely monitoring university related outbreaks around the state and will continue to advise schools, state officials and leadership on how to proceed as new data is released.