EAST LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — A spate of Michigan colleges are canceling in-person classes and shifting to online teaching amid concerns about the coronavirus after the state confirmed two cases this week.

Michigan State University was the first to announce Wednesday that all classes will be conducted online through April 20. More information on how virtual classes will work will be released soon.

Michigan State advised students to go home for the duration, saying “there are advantages for social distancing.” Those who can’t go home can still stay on campus and will have access to all facilities and cafeterias.

Michelle Seid drove to East Lansing Wednesday to pick up her daughter.

“I am a registered nurse so thing whole thing has me as a health care provider very concerned so I wasn’t surprised at all,” Seid said. “I was just waiting.”

She has another daughter attending Kalamazoo College and was waiting for word on what will happen there.

“The best thing is for everyone to get home stay safe and not have community involvement. I think it’s the right thing to do,” she said.

Students, staff, faculty and parents with questions can call the university’s toll-free hotline at 888.353.1294.   

Michigan State said it was looking into large events that have already been scheduled and put a moratorium on scheduling any more. It had already put a halt to all university-related international travel before April 20 and is also suspending nonessential domestic travel.

The University of Michigan said it was canceling Thursday and Friday classes. Learning at all of its campuses would go online starting Monday through the end of the semester on April 21.

Michigan suspended international travel, discouraged domestic travel and canceled all events at which more than 100 people would gather. The athletic department was looking at limiting spectators at sporting events.

Central Michigan University says all classes will move online after students return on spring break through March 20. Officials are advising students should not return to campus following spring break, which is this week. 

Central will decide about classes for the following week by 4 p.m. March 19. The university says there are currently no known cases of COVID-19 at CMU but made this decision to contain the spread of the virus.

In addition, CMU-sponsored events with 50 or more people are canceled through March 31, which includes student organizations. No new events will be scheduled on campus through March 31, CMU said. 

CMU also canceled university-sponsored domestic travel through March 31. The university previously put travel restrictions to China, Italy, Iran and South Korea.

Grand Valley State University announced the cancellation of Thursday and Friday classes and said it was moving online Monday through March 29.

Like at MSU, GVSU advised students to go home, but said they can stay if they must. Students who need help should call 616.331.2120.

“I honestly want to stay on campus,” GVSU freshman Maya Nemer said. “Obviously, not for the virus to spread, but I think a lot of my classes and a lot of our classes would be harder online.”

Students said they saw the announcement coming as other colleges began suspending in-person classes. An email confirming it came to their inboxes just before 7 p.m. Wednesday.

“The online classes for GVSU do a very good job, though I myself still prefer in person,” GVSU senior Connor Thornton said. “I’m a person who likes human interaction as well.” 

GVSU President Philomena Mantella said the move was necessary in the interest of public health and safety.

“It weighs heavy on you because we care about our community, but I feel we did our due diligence,” Mantella said Wednesday, speaking only to News 8. “We worked with people who are experts in the field and we looked at the guidance more broadly and we acted in a way that we think is in the best interest of Grand Valley and the broader community.”

Western Michigan University announced that in-person classes would be suspected on Thursday and Friday so that faculty members can start moving courses online. Starting Monday, classes will be “provided through distant education.” WMU says more information will be provided to students in the coming days.

Western says there are no known cases of the virus on campus. It will continue to monitor the situation and make a decision Friday on if more time is needed to prepare for online classes.

Student Chris Rush believes WMU made the right decision.

“I wasn’t surprised because I knew it was coming. I saw that a lot of schools were closing so I knew that we were definitely next,” Rush told News 8. “It’s definitely important that everything is being quarantined.”

Classes at Ferris State University are being suspended or replaced with remote classes starting March 16, including the Kendall College of Art and Design. This format is set to continue through March 27 and will be reassessed if necessary.

Ferris says the campus will remain open after spring break, but students who live on campus are encouraged to stay home. More information can be found on Ferris’ website.

Davenport University says it’s canceling in-person classes starting at 5 p.m. Thursday through Monday. Classes will be taught online starting Tuesday until the end of the semester.

The university will remain open and all other services will be available.    

Grand Rapids Community College says face-to-face classes will be suspended Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The college plans to switch to online classes starting Monday through April 3.

The campus will stay open for staff and business operations. GRCC says appropriate measures will be taken to protect its campus community.

Updates on how GRCC is handling the coronavirus can be found on its website.

Kalamazoo Valley Community College announced Thursday it was moving to online only classes starting Monday through April 6. The Kalamazoo Valley Museum will also be closed through April 6. The college will decide by April 1 whether to extend the online-only period.

Effective March 16, Michigan Tech University will cancel in-person classes until April 17. The university will decide on April 10 about the status of in-person classes. 

Michigan Tech students, who are currently on spring break, are permitted to return to campus. Officials are asking the campus community to practice appropriate social distancing and proper hygiene practices.  

At this time, MTU athletics will not cancel or postpone any athletics events.

Muskegon Community College announced all in-person classes will be suspended starting Thursday afternoon. The college will switch to online classes. It’s expected to continue through April 3.

The status of classes will be decided by March 27. Unless otherwise specified, all MCC sites remain open and services will continue to be provided.

Campus events with an expected attendance of more than 100 will be canceled. International travel has been suspended until further notice.

Calvin University announced Friday classes are canceled and all classes will move online starting Monday, March 16. As of Wednesday night, college officials plan to resume classroom instruction on Tuesday, April 14.

More information on the past, current and future on Calvin University’s response to COVID-19 can be found online.

Cornerstone University canceled classes for Thursday March 12 through March 20. Online classes are set to begin March 23 through April 14 for traditional undergraduate students. Starting March 16 through April 14, professional and graduate students will switch to an online format.

The university will monitor the situation and decide by April 3 if the distant format time frame needs to be extended. More information can be found on the university’s website.

Hope College has canceled classes for Thursday. The school says remote classes will begin March 23. In-person classes are expected to resume April 14. This comes after a student was tested for the virus. Test results for that student came back negative, the college says.

The campus will stay open for office operations, but students are encouraged to leave campus housing. The number of students who will be staying on campus will be limited, Hope says.

More information on how Hope plans to move forward amid the virus can be found on the college’s website.

Aquinas College says it will extend its spring break for another week and shift to online classes starting March 23. The college says no in-person classes will be held. This change is expected to last at least until April 24.

Aquinas encourages students to remain away from campus during the extended spring break. Students can come to campus from March 15-18 to prepare to leave for an extended period of time.

Albion decided to suspend in-person classes and switch to online classes. The last day of traditional classes is March 13. The campus and residence halls will remain open. More information can be found on its website.

Baker College says all lecture courses will be online starting March 16. Lab courses, clinical courses and internships/externships will keep their current format. Residence halls will remain open.

More than 113,000 people across the world have contracted COVID-19, most of them in China, where it originated. Globally, there have been more than 4,000 deaths. There have been more than 1,000 cases in the United States and 31 deaths, the Associated Press reports.

The governor on Tuesday declared a state of emergency as Michigan confirmed its first two cases of COVID-19, both on the southeast side of the state. The University of Michigan Health System said Wednesday it was treating one of the patients and said that person was in stable condition.

Michigan State said it learned early Wednesday someone linked to campus was being checked for the virus.

State officials on Wednesday afternoon held a press conference to discuss precautions people should take and organizations should consider to slow the spread of any illnesses. Among those were coughing into your arm rather than hand, washing your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds, staying home if sick and considering canceling gatherings of 100 people or more.

For most people, coronavirus symptoms can be very mild and the illness passes within a few weeks. For the elderly and people with underlying health problems, it can lead to more serious symptoms and pneumonia.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Coronavirus

—News 8’s Kyle Mitchell contributed to this report.