Wayne State President M. Roy Wilson sent out an email to the campus community on March 23, announcing fall 2021 academic plans.
The plans are subject to change based on COVID-19 vaccine distribution, COVID-19 case rates and ongoing guidance from state and federal health organizations, according to the email.
About 50% of classes are currently planning to be in person as either traditional or hybrid, said Darin Ellis, associate provost for academic programs and associate vice president for institutional effectiveness.
“We can't just make a plan for fall and say, ‘this is what we're going to do,’ no matter what,” Ellis said.
Instructors who want to schedule their classes for face-to-face instruction in the fall can plan to do so, Ellis said, but if COVID-19 cases continue to rise, classes will still operate under a primarily virtual format. Students should be aware of how the classes are offered when registering, according to the email.
“I am a little anxious to go back to campus, but who isn’t after a year of doing something completely different?” said WSU public health junior Mackenzie Connell.
The Campus Health Center will continue tracking and reporting any COVID-19 cases on campus, as well as providing COVID-19 testing and vaccinations, according to the email. The Campus Daily Screener will continue to be mandatory to help monitor cases on campus and guide the campus response.
New WSU COVID-19 restrictions were implemented on April 7, amidst rising COVID-19 cases in the region. These restrictions were extended through the end of the semester on Wednesday.
The current campus restrictions “will not have an effect on the fall semester,” said WSU Director of Communications Matt Lockwood in an email to The South End on Tuesday. “We expect the majority of our fall classes to be offered in person.”
Some students have been opposed to WSU’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and would prefer to return to campus full-time this upcoming semester.
“I think the online school as it is now is a complete joke and if Wayne State wants to go in person it should be 100%,” said Marc Hanna, a finance and supply chain student. “I think in this situation all students should be responsible for our own safety. I mean, they're treating us like we're little kids with these campus screeners.”
Sporting events will have spectator attendance following state guidelines for health and safety, and policies outlined by WSU’s Public Health Committee, according to Wilson’s email. Athletics has created a Restart Protocol Handbook, guiding students and employees for the return to sporting activities.
Some on-campus activities are also planning to resume, following health guidelines, according to the email. The Dean of Students Office regularly updates its website to include campus engagement and student health and wellness information through the Warrior Life and Wellness program.
“My concern is that we're going to be back to in-person doing rigorous academic stuff and we're going to have pretty strict rules on anything social,” Connell said. “I don’t think we will have activities like FestiFall or Greek life parties and that's a lot of what makes campus like what it is, whether administrators want to believe it or not.”
Resident District Manager Alex MacKenzie said campus dining and retail options are currently open, consistent with applicable health and safety requirements.
“Towers Café is take-out only while providing the same menu, service and hours,” MacKenzie said. “With the Student Center closed, Dining Services has created a Midtown Market Pop-Up in Towers Café. Students can conveniently visit the Pop-Up and grab snacks, groceries and essentials – a great way to spend Warrior Dollars before the semester ends.”
If any items are missing from the Pop-Up, students can fill out an order form to pick up their items, he said.
Despite the precautions in place, safety concerns still arise within the WSU community.
“For example, one of my roommates, she’s back to work at Wayne State more recently than me and within their confined spaces, they don't always wear masks because it's just them, but they're not all vaccinated,” Connell said.
WSU will continue to update the campus community on COVID-19-related decisions on its coronavirus website.
“I think for this fall, we really have to watch the pandemic,” Ellis said. “We have to follow the science and the best advice of the CDC as interpreted by our expert public health committee.”
Grace Reyes is a contributing writer for The South End. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo by Quinn Banks, The South End's multimedia editor. He can be reached at email@example.com.