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To: Samuel L. Stanley, Jr.; Teresa Woodruff; Melissa Woo; Norman J. Beauchamp Jr.

Petition to put Michigan State University classes online

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Campaign created by
MSU Faculty 2022
Petition to put Michigan State University classes online

We write in response to the latest announcement from President Stanley that classes at Michigan State University for Spring 2022 are planned to begin in person. As the MSU academic community, we express serious concerns with respect to reopening plans and request that MSU reverse course to adopt an online-only learning model for Spring 2022.

The current plan to continue with in-person classes at MSU will, in our opinion, will cause a tremendous yet preventable outbreak and disaster for our community. As President Stanley comments in his letter announcing in-person plans, the Omicron variant has already added a great stress for students, faculty, and staff, and the plan for in-person classes will impact not only the physical health of our community, but also continue to add to the declining mental health of all stakeholders. The unnecessary hardships we are no doubt about to endure will expand to all of Ingham County and the state of Michigan.

MSU assures that in-person plans follow CDC guidelines, and that university protocols have served the university well thus far. However, while masks and social distancing can help to reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the newest CDC guidelines for reduced quarantine following infection, coupled with a myriad of other factors will inevitably lead to an even greater number of cases during a period of widespread infection.

For the example, thousands of students, faculty, and staff will travel to campus from around the world, but MSU has no recommendation or requirement for quarantine prior to arrival on campus. MSU has also still not yet verified the vaccination status of students, faculty, and staff, beyond self-report measures. Furthermore, information related to booster verifications will not be announced until after the start of classes. Finally, there are no testing requirements in place prior to arrival on campus. This will undoubtedly lead to a surge in infection of SARS-CoV-2. Even with testing measures in place, infection may not be detected, which will leave a high number of infected individuals to continue to spread the virus in dormitories, classrooms, dining spaces, and public spaces. Students who do not follow public health recommendations and guidelines, which will be many according to national trends, will spread the virus at an even greater rate. The rising numbers both in Michigan and Ingham County, as well as on MSU campus, in Fall 2021 suggest a repeated disaster upon return to in-person classes in Spring 2022. The surges around the USA, and the world, clearly foreshadow a local spike in infection, which we have seen time and again throughout this pandemic.

As Covid-19 cases continue to increase in Michigan, we must be particularly aware of the impact a surge in infection rates will have on not only our own students, faculty, and staff, but also on our wider community. By bringing thousands of students back to campus during a period of increased infection, we put our vulnerable community members, including those of lower economic status and underrepresented individuals, at unnecessary risk. The long-term effects of infection, coupled with the effects on mental health, make an in-person reopening of campus irresponsible for the well-being of all involved. If MSU is to truly follow a Culture of Care, we request for classes to be online for our physical and mental health.

The high probability of a surge in cases suggests that classes will be forced online, but only after our students, faculty, and staff have been unnecessarily infected. Many will die, suffer long-term health effects, or suffer the loss of a loved one. Faculty have already changed course a number of times during this pandemic and have continued to provide top education and support for students who are mentally unwell and struggling through the many losses and hardships of the pandemic. The burden has been passed on to faculty again and again, and we have been asked to perform beyond our contracts and volunteer the little time we have to serving students in dining halls, providing extra academic and mental health support to students, and accommodating students who fall ill to the virus. MSU is on the verge of losing the trust of its faculty, staff, students, and surrounding community.

We have demonstrated in past semesters that we are able to continue to provide top education online, while preventing a new wave of virus. Given the professional training of our university leaders and our Culture of Care, MSU should be an example of necessary shifts, already considered by our Big Ten community including Penn State and University of Maryland, during the pandemic, which currently means following Harvard, Stanford, Temple and Illinois State Universities, among others, in a shift to online classes for Spring 2022.

Why is this important?

The current surge in Covid-19 around the country, and in Michigan in particular, make a surge inevitable at MSU. The physical and mental health of the MSU students, faculty, and staff must not be put at unnecessary risk, and a shift to online classes is needed to prevent another disaster within our community.

Updates

2021-12-31 11:32:02 -0500

50 signatures reached

2021-12-30 14:05:00 -0500

25 signatures reached

2021-12-30 10:10:35 -0500

10 signatures reached