The Return of In Person Classes


Two students walking together/ Photo Credit: MSU University Communications

Hailey MacDonald

EAST LANSING – With the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron, spreading quickly, many colleges and universities had to make a decision on whether to hold classes online or in-person when students return from the holiday break. While some universities such as Western Michigan University and University of Michigan started with face-to-face classes immediately, Michigan State decided to start the first three weeks of the new semester remotely. President Samuel Stanley sent an email on December 31, 2021 stating the following, 


We now feel the best decision for our campus is to start classes primarily remotely on Jan. 10 and for at least the first three weeks of the semester…Starting the semester remotely and de-densifying campus in the coming weeks can be a solution to slowing the spread of the virus.”


 After holding the first three weeks of the semester online, the university made the decision to return to in person classes and has received positive and negative responses from both students and faculty members at MSU.


“Face-to-face, in person, love being able to read students’ faces… that’s so much easier to do in person versus on Zoom… coming back in person I feel like has made it much easier to teach those hands on [camera] skills,” says Tara Mesyn, who teaches photojournalism at MSU.


 “Being in person allows everyone in the class to get to know each other, you feel like a little bit more cohesive as a group… I definitely prefer being in person.”


However, the continuous spread of COVID causes students like Katarina Keeley, a senior at MSU, to feel differently. Keeley says she prefers to have a choice between attending classes in person or online.


“I was getting a little nervous coming back to campus just because I knew of some people… on campus had gotten COVID and I was just worried.” 


 Keeley has started a petition, “Allow MSU students the option to take their classes online” and hopes to collect signatures while raising awareness to possibly give MSU students the option to take classes online or in person. Currently, the petition has just under 2,000 signatures.


“The biggest reason why I did the petition was because if there’s anything I want to learn from 2020, it was the fact that yes school is important and that school should be a priority but prioritizing your health is just as important if not more important,” says Keeley.


 “Living with immunocompromised family members. Already was sick prior to the start of the semester, don’t really want to be in a room filled with sick people with cloths for masks while the numbers for COVID are rising every day,” Nwanyioma Osisiogu said in the comment section of the petition. 


According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the Omicron variant is currently the dominant variant in the United States. Omicron is spreading at a quicker rate than the previous variants of Coronavirus, but the symptoms seem to be less severe,


 “Omicron infection generally causes less severe disease than infection with prior variants…Omicron may cause more mild disease, although some people may still have severe disease, need hospitalization, and could die from the infection with this variant.” 


The CDC recommends getting vaccinated and boosted if you are not already, continuing to wear a mask and getting tested if you are experiencing any symptoms such as a fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath or new loss of taste or smell. 


MSU wants to make it clear to students and faculty that proper measures are being taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19. As of now, classes remain in-person and staff and students are required to wear a mask while in a classroom setting and while taking any of the buses. MSU is also requiring all students and staff to get vaccinated and boosted before returning for the new semester unless they have a religious or medical exemption.