Students at four Michigan colleges start 2022 with a step backward.
Michigan State and Detroit's College for Creative Studies join Wayne State and Oakland University in returning to virtual classes as the Omicron variant spreads Covid and caution.
"Given this [week's] 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," MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. announces Friday. "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."
CCS, a private college in Midtown Detroit, disclosed its decision Thursday. "A remote start to the semester is the best course of action to ensure that our campus community stays safe in January," it says on social media. "The City of Detroit Health Department strongly urged this action as a strategy to slow the spread of Omicron." It also plans to resume in-person classes Feb. 1.
At Wayne, President M. Roy Wilson announced a Jan. 10-28 suspension of campus instruction because "the number of [Omicron] cases in the Detroit area has already reached an alarming level." Medical models froecast "a time-limited but rapid increase in the number of cases in our region over the coming few weeks," he added.
In Rochester, Oakland University's stay-away policy is in effect at least two weeks until Jan. 18, "barring a further need to respond to pandemic conditions."
Nearby in Pontiac, public schools will have only virtual learning from Jan. 3-18. "Staff will be teaching remotely, and lessons and assignments will be given daily. Attendance will also be taken," Superintendent Kelley Williams posts Thursday at the district site.
Detroit schools stay empty at least through Wednesday, we report separately.
Friday's announcement by MSU says students can return to residence halls and log into classes from there. "Food and dining options will be available in our dining halls, and the library and [gyms] will remain open."
Nonacademic "supervisors should consider allowing remote work where possible given operational needs," Stanley adds.
The state's three largest universities -- Michigan, MSU and WSU -- require students and employees to be vaccinated and boosted in 2022.