Wayne State held a virtual presidential town hall on Thursday, July 16 to discuss the fall class plan announced to the WSU community via email on Wednesday.
Members of the campus restart committee spoke during the town hall, focusing on students and expectations to keep everyone on campus safe.
President M. Roy Wilson said the decision to announce WSU’s plan came with careful consideration, based on current information available.
“July 15 was a good time because you still need a certain amount of time for the registrar to get the courses up (and) for faculty and for students to be able to plan accordingly,” Wilson said.
WSU is in “a very dynamic situation,” Wilson said.
“As far as Michigan is concerned, we are in a better place than we were in April. But it's still a good news—bad news scenario,” he said. “The good news is that in comparison to other states, we are doing relatively ok. On the other hand, we are trending in the wrong direction so that's concerning.”
While many changes listed in the fall plan were discussed, other details were also included.
All students who will be on campus must receive their seasonal flu shot by Oct. 15, College of Nursing Dean and Public Health Chair Laurie Lauzon Clabo said. Students with medical or religious reasons for not getting the vaccination will be exempt.
“The combination of two respiratory viruses in any setting is a dangerous combination and one we are going to avoid by making sure that all of us receive our flu vaccine,” she said.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reported 891 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, the highest daily number of cases since May 14.
“We are carefully monitoring the situation not just in Detroit, but across the state,” Clabo said. “We have seen a small but persistent increase in the number of new cases per day in Michigan —moving from an average of about 275 new cases a day at the end of June to about 600 new cases a day in the past week.”
Students should also be vigilant when it comes to hand hygiene, washing hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water often throughout the day, Clabo said.
“Hand sanitizer stations have been deployed at the entrance to all of our buildings on campus and we ask you to make wise and frequent use of those hand sanitizer dispensers,” she said.
Clabo also said students should expect things to look different on campus this upcoming semester.
Furniture has been moved and chairs have been blocked off to maintain distance. A limit to the number of people allowed on elevators and “directional traffic” in some hallways will also go into effect.
“It's all of our responsibility to make sure we maintain a six-foot bubble around us at all times possible,” Clabo said.
Campus dining, the Student Center, and other campus retail will open later in August, said Tim Michael, associate vice president for student auxiliary services and chief housing officer. The WSU Bookstore is currently open.
Face coverings and physical distancing will also be required in dining and retail locations, he said. Buffets and self-service dining will be eliminated and replaced with to-go meal programs.
“You will experience our new normal ways of engaging in these activities as we implement (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and Health Department guidance to help our patrons dine and shop safely,” Michael said.
WSU will continue to update students and adjust their plan accordingly as things move forward, Wilson said.
“Regardless of what was said yesterday, we are prepared to be able to change as necessary and either add more courses in the traditional format or less in the traditional format,” he said.
The presidential town hall and fall semester student plan can be found on WSU’s website. The next virtual town hall will address faculty and staff on Wednesday, July 22 at 3:00 p.m.
Nour Rahal is the news editor of The South End. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.