ALLENDALE, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Valley State University will be canceling in-person classes for the rest of the semester amid coronavirus concerns.
Officials say residence halls and living centers will be closed except for special circumstances. In addition, April commencement ceremonies will be postponed.
Earlier this month, GVSU announced it would shift to online classes until the end of March. On Tuesday, school officials announced that precaution would be in place for the remainder of the semester, including final exams. Many other colleges have also switched to similar formats.
Grand Valley students are quickly realizing the challenges that come with it.
“I am a general business major and I think it’s kind of difficult for testing and the online lectures,” GVSU sophomore Maddison Brunt said.
For students studying other, more hands-on majors, the rest of the semester feels far more uncertain.
“My roommates do labs for science classes and that’s definitely more hands on and interactive in the classroom, which can be very difficult,” Brunt said. “As well as my friend who’s an art major and she needs the studio to paint and to do drawings.”
For Haley Bell, a GVSU senior majoring in Studio Art and Graphic Design, virtual learning seems impossible.
“Both of my classes are very hands on studio classes,” Bell said. “One of them is print making, so I bought all of the supplies for the class and now I just don’t get to do any of it for the rest of the semester. So, that’s half of the semester that I paid for, paid for the supplies and I don’t get any of the education from it.”
Bell said she called the registrar’s office on Monday to inquire about getting a partial refund for the semester but was told her only option to get money back would be to drop both classes for a full refund.
“I’m supposed to be graduating in April, so there’s no way I’m dropping my last two classes,” Bell told News 8 on Tuesday.
Determined to graduate this Spring, Bell is holding onto hope that the university will find a way to do more in helping her and other students in similar situations.
“I hope they look at it more like a case-by-case thing,” Bell said. “Because when I called, she was like ‘Sorry, this is the only option,’ but that’s not applicable to all the students and to all the majors.”
News 8 reached out to GVSU for a response to this concern and received the following response from Provost Maria Cimitile:
“We are working with students on an individual basis to be sure their needs are being addressed. We don’t want any student to be penalized by something out of their control.”
The university says all staff members that can work remotely are expected to do so starting Wednesday.
“The university will honor our Class of 2020 and will be in touch later with graduates about other options,” GVSU tweeted.
On Saturday, Michigan State University announced it would cancel in-person classes for the rest of the semester.
Virtually all Michigan universities have suspended online classes. Last week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer canceled K-12 schools for three weeks.
As of Tuesday, there have been 65 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state. There has only been one confirmed case in Ottawa County.