Over the past two months, the state of Michigan has seen a remarkable turnaround as COVID‑19 cases rapidly decline. Nearly 9 million doses of safe and effective vaccines have been administered in our state, and we are optimistic about the positive trends in cases and hospitalizations as well as the overall course the pandemic seems to be on, both in Michigan and nationally.
While we know we must be cautious — some COVID variants are severely impacting unvaccinated individuals — this positive news led to recent decisions on the state’s public health and workplace rules and provided guidance for MSU’s fall semester. I want to update you on how that impacts the MSU community.
Lifting of most campus COVID‑19 rules
Last week, the state rescinded most of its remaining COVID‑19 public health and workplace orders. This means, in most settings, there no longer are any face mask mandates, restrictions on the sizes of gatherings or limitations on venues, such as restaurants.
To align with state and federal guidance, MSU is lifting most of its own COVID-19 mandates, effective immediately, except for health care settings:
While the lifting of COVID‑19 mandates is welcome news, it is important to remember:
Looking toward fall semester
As I shared earlier this year, we are planning for a typical fall semester, with a majority of classes in person, residence halls returning to fuller capacity and fall activities back in full swing. I know many of you share my excitement that soon, we will be together again on our beautiful campus.
As we look toward fall, MSU is not mandating COVID‑19 vaccinations at this time outside of some very limited settings. However, based on the trends we will monitor over the next several weeks, including the number of COVID‑19 cases and the impact of vaccinations, this could be revisited. Also, Spartans who are vaccinated, including those living in the residence halls, no longer will have to quarantine if exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID‑19, per CDC guidance.
While the COVID‑19 Early Detection Program is no longer mandatory for undergraduate students, it is still operating and could become mandatory for unvaccinated students if there is an increase in COVID‑19 cases in the community.
Key prevention measures will remain in place for the fall semester, such as:
As I have said many times, we must remember we are on the virus’s timeline. While we are optimistic about current trends and data, we will continue to monitor cases in our region and state. If needed, we will put the necessary COVID‑19 protocols back in place to protect our campus community. The one thing each of you can do now to avoid that is getting vaccinated with an FDA-authorized or WHO-approved vaccine. It is the best thing you can do to protect yourself and those around you, particularly as dangerous variants such as the B.1.617.2 Delta variant continue to spread.
Vaccines are widely available in communities across the country and world, and now is the time to take steps to protect yourself ahead of the fall semester. We will soon announce an incentive program for students, both for those already vaccinated and those planning to receive a vaccine. As a reminder, all members of the MSU community can receive a free COVID‑19 vaccine through the MSU Health Care Pharmacy. For those not in the East Lansing area, you can visit www.vaccines.gov to find a U.S. vaccination site.
Respect, grace and empathy
As we make our way through summer and prepare for fall, we must remember the pandemic has taken a personal toll on many in our community. Some of you have lost loved ones, battled the virus yourself or been affected by the economic downturn that came with COVID‑19.
Returning to a sense of normalcy can be stressful for many, and we must show grace and empathy. Regardless of any public health measures, many in our community may choose to wear a face covering (even if vaccinated) or physically distance themselves. Emerging from a pandemic is a first experience for all of us, and we must support and respect everyone as they make personal decisions about their health, safety and comfort. Harassment will not be tolerated.
I am so proud of the resolve and determination you have shown, and I am looking forward to seeing our vibrant community of students, faculty and staff fully engaged in on-campus life.
Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D. (he/him)