Wayne State announced their fall class plans and changes to the way students will interact with the campus ahead of the upcoming semester in an email sent to the campus community.
The plan was formulated by the coronavirus campus restart committee, made up of nine different subcommittees that address all aspects of university life.
“Although things have changed, we remain firmly committed to our academic mission. You will still receive a premier education from Wayne State University — whether that instruction occurs on campus, remotely or through a combination of the two,” President M. Roy Wilson said in the message. “We will continue to provide ways for you to maintain vital social connections with fellow students even when you are physically distant.”
The plan is based on the most current public health and scientific information on COVID-19, taking into account that guidelines and plans may change based on the evolving situation.
Several formats of courses will be offered in the fall, with the number of each course type varying.
Remote and online courses will make up a large portion of instruction, with 46% expected to be offered. Classmates and professors will meet online at a set date and time for remote courses while online courses will not have a set meeting schedule.
Individually arranged courses are anticipated to make up 32% of fall courses. Courses that fall into this category include “dissertations, theses, individual research credits and special projects,” according to the announcement.
In-person courses that take place on campus are expected to make up 20% while 2% of courses will function under a hybrid model, involving both online and in-person coursework.
The Board of Governors approved a 0% tuition increase for students at their June 5 meeting. WSU is also developing “new and innovative ways” to help students when it comes to paying for tuition, with information available on the Financial Aid website.
Several other Michigan universities announced their fall plans before WSU, but Student Senate President Riya Chhabra said that waiting to do so allowed for more consideration.
“We had the opportunity to see what our fellow colleges and universities were doing and see like what works and kind of pick and choose and make the plan that’s best fit for our needs,” Chhabra said.
Student Senate representatives have been involved in the campus restart committee since it formed in April, Chhabra said. These representatives advocated for what students wanted to see in the plan and will continue their work on the committee.
“They’re still meeting with the administration and as Student Senate president I often meet with the administration too, so this is a conversation that’s ongoing and probably will be for the rest of the year,” she said.
Representatives advocated for a hybrid model similar to the one announced, Chabbra said. They wanted to see that students had many options when it came to fall course formats.
“There are certain classes like labs and stuff that would be more likely to be taught in-person just because there’s just a lot of equipment and everything involved. So we did advocate for that, or like art classes like dance and such that need to be taught in-person,” she said.
Campus wide safety measures will also be put in place in the fall, with many already in effect throughout the spring/summer semester.
Students are required to complete the Warrior Safe training module before returning in the fall, which includes information on COVID-19 and ways to stay safe while on-campus.
Campus Daily Screeners must be filled out before students can return. The screeners are to be consistently completed 48-hours before a student comes on-campus. After completing the form, and if approved, students will receive a QR code which they may be asked to show on-campus.
If the screener is completed and not approved, individuals may be contacted by the Campus Health Center for more screening and potentially referred for COVID-19 testing. People experiencing symptoms must stay home and the CHS will facilitate testing.
Wearing a face mask is required in all public spaces and students will receive a mask in their “Warrior swag bag” upon return.
These protections are appreciated by Paris Brown, a rising sophomore criminal justice major and African American studies minor.
“Wearing a mask will protect your peers if you are a carrier, or protect you from the virus,” she said. “It may be hard to hear someone speaking but that's better than contracting or spreading COVID.”
Social distancing guidelines will also be posted in public places around campus for the community to follow. Furniture in classrooms will be arranged to adhere to social distance guidelines and should not be moved.
On-campus housing will still be available for students wanting to move in for the fall. The move in process includes students being tested for COVID-19 with students being retested throughout the year. Guests will not be allowed in the building and the use of face masks will be enforced outside of students’ rooms.
Dining halls will also be in operation with reduced occupancy and face mask requirements. Meals to-go will also be available throughout the day at the Student Center’s new meal station.
Cashless transactions will also be in place at dining halls and retail locations on campus to minimize contact. Students are also asked not to share class materials and food with other students.
Wayne State’s libraries, with the exception of Purdy Kresge, will open with increased sanitation and social distancing practices. Walter P. Reuther Library will have appointment-based entry while the other three allow walk-ins with occupancy limits. Guest visitation will not be permitted in any of the library facilities, as OneCards must be shown upon entry.
A Fall Student Engagement Committee is working to create activities that will allow students to remain involved with WSU. All student activities will occur online this semester.
“Campus activities helped me learn the campus,” Brown said. “It helped me find out where to go and get comfortable so I felt at home.”
Some activities for students to participate in include viewing WSU Theatre productions, live instruction with the Academic Success Center or experiencing WSU sports virtually.
Some students are concerned that these events will not compare to activities under normal circumstances.
“Campus activities being online is not going to be fun,” said Remey Barrow, a rising sophomore pre-nursing major. “The peer connection is not going to be there. The freshmen are not going to enjoy the real college experience with campus activities online. It might bore some people.”
Chhabra said the student senate is also involved in the Fall Student Engagement Committee, finding ways to address similar concerns.
“We’re working with them to make sure our events are still as interactive and still as enjoyable for students even if they’re online,” she said.
Student Senate is helping students transition into the fall semester with projects focused on the pandemic and helping students, Chhabra said. A public health project in particular will have a central website and database where students can find useful information.
“We just want to make sure students have all the information and resources they need to come back to campus safely,” she said.
WSU is continuing to monitor community health and will adjust their plan as needed to ensure safety. More information and the full statement can be found on the university’s website.
Alanna Williams is a correspondent for The South End. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Jack Filbrandt is the editor-in-chief at The South End. He can be reached at editorinchiefTSE@gmail.com.
Cover photo by Jonathan Deschaine. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.