Vandenberg Hall, Bear Lake, building exterior
Oakland University

Michigan universities with notable Jewish presences, such as the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Oakland University and Wayne State University, are all taking similar precautions against COVID-19.

With a new school year on the horizon, universities across the country are preparing for a fall semester the likes of which no one has ever seen.

Michigan universities with notable Jewish presences, such as the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Oakland University and Wayne State University, are all taking similar precautions against COVID-19.

For U-M, classes will be delivered in a variety of formats including in-person, remote and a hybrid mix of both.

University of Michigan
University of Michigan iStock

In an Aug. 6 email to U-M alumni and donors, university President Mark Schlissel wrote that “about 70 percent of credit hours for undergraduates will be taken fully remotely this fall, while courses that can only or best be offered in person, like lab and studio courses, will be offered in person.” Students whose classes are available remotely may choose to remain at home.

Sarah Pomerantz
Sarah Pomerantz

Sarah Pomerantz, an incoming junior and the chair of U-M Hillel’s governing board, is interested in what professors are expecting out of their students in these unique circumstances.

“It’s difficult because you understand the risks that there are, and you understand the reasoning for virtual classes, yet it’s still hard to adapt,” Pomerantz said. “I’m taking Hebrew, and it’s difficult to take language classes online, so I’m interested to see how much the academic rigor continues.”

Face coverings are required while on U-M property, including when inside buildings, outdoors and on U-M transportation. Students planning to move into U-M housing are expected to be tested for COVID-19, and cleared, prior to campus arrival.

U-M is partnering with Quest Diagnostics to provide testing kits directly to students and is offering testing for students who are symptomatic or who meet specific criteria through University Health Service.

For Oakland University, classes will be offered in-person, online with recorded lectures, through livestream courses, as well as hybrid courses.

OU has adopted a daily health screening process to prevent faculty, staff, students and guests from coming to campus if they are experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or have had contact with a person with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis.

In addition to answering self-screening questions online, campus community members are asked to take the Honor Pledge, which is designed to limit the spread of infection through the use of facial coverings, social distancing and practice of other infection-prevention behaviors.

Wayne State’s campus must also take a daily campus screener, which must be completed every day, beginning 48 hours before one’s return to campus and continuing each day on campus.

WSU anticipates the proportion of each type of course instruction to be 20% traditional, 46% remote and online, 2% hybrid and 32% individually arranged. For campus housing, all residents will be tested for COVID-19 as part of the move-in process and will be periodically re-tested over the course of the semester. Face coverings are required in public as well as 6-foot social distancing between residents.

For Michigan State, about half of classes will be online, a quarter of classes will be in hybrid mode of instruction, and the remaining classes will be in-person, in larger rooms to allow for 6-foot social distancing.

Michigan State University
Michigan State University Branislav Ondrasik via Wikimedia Commons

Any student showing symptoms will have access to testing through MSU’s Olin Health Center and other sites on campus. 

Jules Levy
Jules Levy LinkedIN

MSU will also be doing a COVID-19 Community Detection Program, collecting saliva samples from thousands of faculty, staff and student volunteers throughout the semester to analyze and identify the presence of the virus in people who are asymptomatic. The technique allows MSU to “process a large volume of samples, identifying carriers of the virus before outbreaks occur.”

Jules Levy, the president of MSU’s Jewish Student Union, is one of many incoming seniors knowing their final year of college is under less than ideal circumstances, but she’s hoping to roll with the punches.

“I think it’s going to be really tough to make this a fun year,” she said. “But my goal going into it is to really make the best of it, get a lot of freshmen involved in Hillel and keep going with what we’ve been doing before, but changing it to work with the new guidelines.”

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