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Person affiliated with MSU being monitored as school switches to virtual classes

Posted at 9:29 PM, Mar 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-11 21:30:55-04

EAST LANSING, Mich. — A Michigan State University spokesperson said planning to reduce the impact of the coronavirus makes for a fluid situation. The university decided to suspend face-to-face classroom instruction and has opted instead for virtual instruction.

FOX 17 learned through the university that the Ingham County Health Department is monitoring someone who is affiliated with MSU. That's the extent of the information released on that. In the meantime, some students FOX 17 spoke with say they're taking their own precautions. Joyce Farley said her face mask is not an overreaction to the deadly virus.

"I have lupus. So I'm immunocompromised. I'm what the CDC considers that vulnerable population. So I would rather be safe than sorry," she explained.

The doctoral student said she learned she'll argue her dissertation over video conference.

"I wholeheartedly agree with the decision to shut down the university because... there's a reason why they say to get the meningitis shot because university campuses, dorms, all that jazz, public areas (are) big breeding grounds, petri dish galore," she said.

Kaitlyn Piggott, a sophomore studying pre-med said, “I think I had like 40 messages on my phone saying what was going on, and it was kind of like a panic, a little bit. No one really knew what was going on, but people were kind of freaking out.”

MSU spokesperson Emily Guerrant says the health and safety of its 75,000 staff, graduate and undergraduate students come first.

"We have been working for the past couple of weeks in case this step was needed in getting our faculty ready, giving them the appropriate support they would need to be able to make transitions for classes that are traditionally face-to-face in a classroom," Guerrant explained.

She acknowledged not all classes are conducive to virtual instruction, and that's something instructors will need to communicate with students about. Guerrant says the bottom line is the need to limit large gatherings and person-to-person contact.

"From a health perspective, we feel they are safer in their permanent home if that is an option for them," she said.

Kaitlyn Piggot says family members have been calling concerned and curious about the vibe on campus.

"I don't really know how to explain this. Like, it really does not seem like it's real," Piggot said.

For those with no place to go, MSU says those students are welcome to stay and will get the support they need. The university said all campus and extension offices are affected. That includes the medical school in Grand Rapids.

So what does this mean for graduation? Guerrant says nothing is off the table, and they'll continue to take the lead from the CDC and state officials in order to adjust as they see fit.