MSU students petition for online class option

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The Sparty inside the MSU Union is equipped with a mask photographed on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020, in East Lansing.
The Sparty inside the MSU Union is equipped with a mask photographed on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020, in East Lansing.

EAST LANSING — As Michigan State University prepares to resume in-person classes next week, some students want the choice of staying remote.

A petition began circulating last week calling on MSU President Samuel Stanley Jr. to give students the option to continue taking their courses online. The spring semester began Jan. 10 with most classes held online to prevent COVID-19 spread after the holiday break.

Throughout Michigan, there were about 13,124 new cases each day this past Saturday, Sunday and Monday. MSU recorded 453 cases the week of January 17, down from 546 and 661 the two previous weeks but up from the fall semester high of 146 a week.

That's why Katarina Keeley, a senior from Flint, started the petition.

“It’s still a sickness that is spreading,” she said. “There are a lot of students that want to be back in person, but there’s a lot of students I’ve realized that want to continue the online format because they’re worried about getting sick and spreading the virus.”

The petition had collected more than 1,100 signatures as of Thursday.

On Dec. 31, Stanley announced that most classes would be moved online for at least the first three weeks of the semester. The third week concludes Friday, Jan. 28. The announcement came as the state reported a record-high two-day average of nearly 13,000 cases per day, almost a third higher than the previous peak recorded more than a year ago.

After monitoring campus-related COVID-19 cases, Stanley said officials believed case numbers were plateauing, according to a Jan. 21 message.

“With our continued mask requirement, high vaccination rates and most students and faculty boosted, we believe we are well-positioned to resume in-person classes Monday, Jan. 31,” said Dan Olsen, an MSU spokesperson, in a statement. “We know many of our students prefer in-person learning.”

Olsen also pointed to a variety of available classes that are either conducted online or in a hybrid format.

Keeley said one of her five classes offers an online option, but the rest are in-person only.

She appreciated Stanley moving most classes online to start the semester, which allowed her to avoid spending too much time around other people and double-masking when she did have to attend an event.

But there are still those that have contracted the virus despite being vaccinated and masking.

Keeley said she’s not alone in hoping MSU gives students the option to continue online, but she doesn’t deny Olsen’s point that many students prefer in-person learning

“I’m not trying to prevent that,” she said. “I’m just asking for that other option.”

Contact Mark Johnson at 517-377-1026 or at majohnson2@lsj.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ByMarkJohnson.

This article originally appeared on Lansing State Journal: MSU students petition for online class option

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