June 26, 2020: Update on returning to campus

Dear MSU students, faculty and staff:

We know many members of the MSU community want to learn more about the details of how we will return to campus this fall. The challenges we, and every other institution of higher education in the country face in planning for a return that is as safe as possible, are significant. That is why our COVID-19 Reopening Campus Task Force and subcommittees are working overtime to get the details right. And in many cases, our topics for consideration and subsequent recommendations are derived from information, questions and scenarios we have received from faculty, staff and students. We are committed to communicating the decisions on reopening when they are made and addressing specific concerns you have in a timely manner. Now, we want to provide you with updates on some key issues. Rest assured that more communications will follow soon.

As we have said before, the fall 2020 semester will look different from any previous semester at MSU. It is incredibly important that Spartans unite in embracing the protective actions necessary to create a safer environment on campus. This is about making decisions for the protection of your friends, family, fellow students, colleagues and all who come to our campus. This is about personal responsibility and holding yourself accountable for the welfare of others. This is about being a Spartan. We need you — students, faculty, staff, everyone — to do your part to protect your health and the safety of our community.

Face coverings required

Face coverings will be required for everyone (faculty, staff, students, contractors, suppliers, vendors and visitors) while on campus, either indoors or outdoors. You are required to wear a face covering except when you are in your assigned place of residence or in a private, single-occupancy office or lab space with the door closed where you can reasonably expect other individuals not to enter. More detailed information on this requirement will be forthcoming.

A safety kit will be provided to all incoming students. Each kit will include two plain face coverings, hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes. More information will be available this summer on the kits, which will be distributed to students living on and off campus. We do encourage students to secure extra reusable face coverings and bring them with you to campus. For employees returning to campus, face coverings and any other required personal protective equipment will be provided by the university.

COVID-19 testing for students and employees

It is vital that any member of our community immediately seeks medical help if exhibiting any signs of COVID-19. If feeling ill, students should contact Olin’s 24-hour nurse line at 517-353-5557 or contact their health care provider. Faculty and staff should contact their primary care physician. If you are ill, you should self-isolate and avoid close contact with all others. More information on what to do if you feel sick can be found at the CDC website.

MSU will test any student who becomes symptomatic after returning to campus through a combination of on-campus testing and partnerships with our local health providers. We will continue to work with our local health departments on contact tracing for any potential cases.

We also are developing and evaluating screening techniques to better assess the prevalence of infection on campus. A screening technique will help identify potential outbreaks sooner and guide us in the implementation of optimally effective approaches. More information on the screening process will be shared later this summer.

Students living on campus

For students living on campus, MSU’s Residential and Hospitality Services is putting plans in place to provide as safe an experience as possible. Before move-in, each residence hall will undergo an extensive deep cleaning. Move-in dates will be staggered, and students will be limited in how many people can enter the hall with them. In the dining halls, there will be enhanced grab-and-go options to accommodate mandated seating restrictions. Additional adjustments will be made as well, and more information will be sent in July to Spartans living on campus.

Fall course schedule, commencement

As noted in a communication previously sent to students, faculty and staff from the provost’s office, to support as safe a return to campus as possible this fall, faculty members are working to put about half of their classes online, shift about a quarter of their classes to a hybrid model of instruction and move the remaining in-person classes into larger rooms to allow for 6 feet of physical distancing. This summer, faculty and staff have been participating in professional development programs for online and hybrid learning to ensure the best experience possible for our students.

Additionally, as we plan to end all in-person instruction Nov. 25 (with remaining instruction, study sessions and final examinations taking place remotely for the last three weeks of the semester), there will be no in-person commencement this December. The task force is planning a virtual commencement for December graduates.

Feedback invited

Many of you have sent in questions, and please know our team is reviewing all of the input submitted. We need to continue to hear from you, and we encourage all members of our community to provide feedback and to visit the novel coronavirus website for the latest updates and FAQs on MSU’s plans to bring Spartans back to campus safely.

With some simple actions we know are effective – wearing face coverings, maintaining physical distance, and frequent hand washing – we can all do our part and make coming together this fall a success. Thank you all for your perseverance.


Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D.

Teresa A. Sullivan
Interim Provost

Dr. Norman Beauchamp Jr.
Executive Vice President for Health Sciences (co-chair of the COVID-19 Reopening Campus Task Force)

Dr. David Weismantel
University Physician (co-chair of the COVID-19 Reopening Campus Task Force)