EAST LANSING — Michigan State University said it no longer needs to offer isolation housing for COVID-19 positive students, or those exposed, as most students head home for the summer and COVID cases fall.
The change is part of MSU’s approach to curbing the spread of COVID-19 going through the summer and into the fall 2022 semester. After dropping masking and capacity requirements, MSU now no longer will offer reserved dorm rooms as isolation housing.
“When we first started … we felt it was important to have quarantine and isolation space,” MSU spokesperson Dan Olsen said. “We were still learning about the virus and how it behaves.”
More than two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, more is known about the virus that has spread around the world and killed millions of people. Medications and vaccinations are also now available.
MSU reserved rooms in South Hubbard Hall last academic year for students who contracted the coronavirus or who were exposed. The year prior, those students isolated in Kellogg Hotel and Convention Center.
About 300 beds in isolation housing were available for students, Olsen said, with an average of about 10 students using the space each day last semester. On April 11, the last date for which Olsen immediately had data, four students were staying in isolation housing.
Quarantine housing is no longer a practical solution, Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail said. Once an illness becomes widespread like COVID-19 has, isolation and quarantine are not efficient when it comes to stopping the spread.
“Quarantine and isolation were more emergency measures,” Vail said. “There’s no reason to continue doing that.”
It's important to stay home with all illnesses, including the flu or measles, Vail said, yet there isn’t specialized quarantine housing for those who contract those illnesses.
“I would be surprised if you saw specialized isolation housing anywhere any more,” Vail said. “We can’t just keep doing extreme measures like that any more.”
A mandate requiring COVID-19 vaccinations and booster shots, with few exceptions, for MSU students and staff is continuing through the summer and into the 2022-23 academic year, Olsen said.
As of Tuesday, 94.42% of MSU students and staff were vaccinated against COVID-19, according to Olsen.
“What was the most important for us, in terms of success last academic year, was the high vaccination rate,” Olsen said. “That was a key point of the success for our academic year and it will continue to be in the next academic year.”
MSU will continue to monitor COVID-19 through the summer and could make changes to its COVID-19 mitigation measures if the spread intensifies leading up to the start of the next academic year.
“Public health and safety and well-being of our campus community is always a concern,” Olsen said. “We will continue to put health and safety at the forefront.”
This article originally appeared on Lansing State Journal: No more isolation housing at MSU as COVID-19 cases fall