Thousands of Michigan State University students start fall semester online

Posted at 5:24 AM, Sep 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-02 07:09:50-04

(WXYZ) — Thousands of Michigan State students are starting the fall semester Wednesday.

For undergrads, everything will be online.

The Spartans had originally planned to return face-to-face, but a couple of weeks ago the school pivoted citing COVID-19 outbreaks at other campuses.

Michigan State’s first day of the fall semester won’t feel as expected for the nearly 50,000 students who had planned for in-person learning.

“My biggest concern is the distractions at home," said MSU graduate student Aaron Staples. "Be it your phone sitting two inches away from you. The other thing is finding a good work environment. I know that my dining room has turned into my dining room, my gym, and my office.”

Because Staples is a graduate student — MSU has offered a potential hybrid component for his learning he says — all undergraduate classes will be online, which aside from focusing and finding an at-home work space poses other obvious challenges for both students and professors.

“I live in the middle of the country and my internet is not great," said Dr. Trey Malone, Assistant Professor and Extension Economist, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics. "And I know that if my internet is not great there are going to be a lot of people out there who don’t have great internet.”

Assistant professor Dr. Trey Malone says faculty are doing their best to try and make this different start as smooth as possible.

“I’m an email away or a tweet away. And most faculty are still that way," said Dr. Malone. “I think all of us have realized how historic this moment is and we’ve all risen to the occasion in a way that is very student centric.”

As far as international students or those who rely on dorms for their housing?

MSU is allowing a small number of students to remain in the dorms. The hope at this point is to return to in-person learning in the spring.