Nov. 16, 2020: How new state order impacts MSU

Dear Spartans,

Yesterday, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and state officials from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced new statewide regulations to curtail the recent rapid spread of COVID-19 in our communities and throughout our state.

I know this news comes at a time when many are already tired, stressed and overwhelmed by the ongoing pandemic. But as I said last week, we cannot let our guard down. The virus continues to spread, and we need to take the actions we know will stop or slow it down. Recent announcements related to vaccines are encouraging to me and I believe they represent a light at the end of the tunnel. Acting now in the ways we are outlining can help keep everyone safe and well until the vaccines are available.

Impacts on MSU
Our leadership team has been reviewing the new state order over the past 24 hours. Effective Wednesday, the following actions will take place for the remainder of the fall semester:

  • Most classes are currently and will continue to be offered in online formats. Classes will remain online through finals in December.
  • There are exemptions for in-person learning associated with our health care programs. Information for those classes and labs will be shared very soon by deans and faculty.
  • Campus workplace research activities, including graduate and undergraduate workplace research and all lab work, are not affected by the order.
  • All employees who can work remotely must do so.
  • Students currently living in our residence halls may continue to reside there, and we will provide a safe place for all students who consider MSU their home.
  • Dining Halls will remain open, with limited seating capacity of one person per table and 6 feet of spacing between tables.
  • The MSU Library will remain open but will have limited capacity.
  • Group exercise classes offered through IM facilities will cease, however, the facilities will remain open for individual exercise opportunities with proper distancing and wearing of masks.
  • MSU athletic teams that are tested six times a week can continue, which includes football, hockey, and men’s and women’s basketball. Other athletic teams are currently under review. This aligns with the Big Ten Conference policies outlined earlier this fall. No fans, family members or guests of players and coaches can be in the stands for any competitions.

After Thanksgiving
With all classes transitioning to online and remote formats, students should carefully plan for the next three weeks. Talk with your family and ensure you can return home or visit without spreading the virus to others. Those planning to travel or return home, both students and employees, are strongly encouraged to take advantage of the COVID-19 Departure Screening and Testing Program.

While I wish we could all enjoy a safe, healthy and restful holiday with friends, family and loved ones, I implore you to consider the amount of travel really needed in the coming weeks and the number of individuals at gatherings. Above all, I urge you to follow this state order as well as other risk-mitigating behaviors and guidelines. As I had said earlier, wherever is the safest place for you to finish the semester is the place I hope you can be and remain. If you travel, I urge you not to return to East Lansing, to campus or to your off-campus housing arrangements until you have safely quarantined.

The fatigue of following the health practices is clearly weighing on many, however, this is not the time to let our guard down as the virus is spreading with intensity. For those who will continue working on campus, you must follow all of the required safety measures – always wear a mask, maintain physical distance, avoid crowds and increase handwashing. 

Reducing travel and social gatherings is imperative right now, and I need all Spartans to do their part. Together, we will.

Additional information on the start of spring semester will be provided in the next few weeks. The university continues to consult our state and local health leaders on the safest options for our students and employees.


Samuel L. Stanley, Jr., M.D.