Earlier this week I wrote to you about the start of the Spring 2022 semester and updated you on what had been reported on our campus and in the surrounding region with cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19. I promised that we would continue to monitor the situation in mid-Michigan and beyond for any changes in the pandemic that required new actions. In the 48 hours since that note went out, a surge in cases has been reported, presumably due to the Omicron variant, with the state of Michigan reaching an all-time high in cases per day.
Given this intense surge in cases, we now feel the best decision for our campus is to start classes primarily remotely on Jan. 10 and for at least the first three weeks of the semester. For those who were planning to move back to our residence halls next week, they will still be open and available. Some students may choose to remain in their other homes or locations during these weeks of online classes, and that is fine. For those returning to our residence halls during these three weeks, food and dining options will be available in our dining halls, and the library and IM facilities will remain open.
I realize that students prefer to be in person, and so do I. But it is important that we do so in a safe manner. Starting the semester remotely and de-densifying campus in the coming weeks can be a solution to slowing the spread of the virus. During the first three weeks, my leadership team and I will be reviewing case numbers and other COVID-19 trends regularly to determine what additional protective measures will be enacted.
Most classes will be done remotely to start the semester, although there will be some labs and professional school programs that need to meet in person. Students will be hearing from their instructors in the coming week with more details. Please reach out to your instructors closer to the Jan. 10 start date if you have any questions about the format of your class. Faculty and academic staff who have questions about transitioning lessons to remote formats can reach out to their college leadership or the Office of the Provost.
Employees should consider their existing working arrangements in light of the current situation, and as has been the case, supervisors should consider allowing remote work where possible given operational needs. Employees who work in person should continue to follow the best practices to help deter the spread of the virus and to keep our campus safe. These measures can be found on the Together We Will website. Research projects can continue, and additional guidance will be sent to researchers if needed.
Employees and students who are required to take part in the Early Detection Program must resume testing upon arriving back to the East Lansing area.
In the coming weeks, there also will be additional information shared on the vaccine and booster requirements, and we are still requiring all vaccinated students, faculty and staff to receive their booster if and when they are eligible. Please continue to watch for these emails and check the Together We Will website for the latest information.
Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D. (he/him)