After previously stating that the COVID-19 vaccine and masks would not be required this fall, Michigan State University has decided to take a different course of action. With the university now requiring the vaccine and masks to attend classes in the fall, students have had a mixed response to the news.
“I understand MSU’s reasoning for requiring vaccines and masks for class to try to keep everyone safe, especially with the new COVID variant,” said Kaelan Zalewski, a senior at Michigan State University. “I’m hoping that this will allow us to be in person for classes this year so that we don’t have to move to online classes again.”
In March 2020, MSU sent students home to start online classes due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Classes remained online for students until it was announced that students would be returning to in-person classes for the Fall 2021 semester. This decision was made due to the COVID-19 vaccine minimizing cases and allowing for a safer campus.
Now, MSU faces a new barrier, the Delta variant of COVID-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Delta is currently the predominant strain of the virus in the United States and is more infectious than other variants even to those with the vaccine.
On Aug. 5, President Samuel Stanley of Michigan State University issued a statement regarding new policies made in response to the Delta variant.
“Masks are now required indoors on campus for all individuals,” said Stanley. “We also are requiring a COVID-19 vaccination for all students, faculty and staff by Aug. 31. That means being either fully vaccinated or having at least one dose and on your way to full vaccination.”
On June 28, the university had announced they would not be requiring masks or the vaccine in order to return to classes in the fall. This has since changed this past week when President Stanley announced that masks would be required indoors and all students must have their first dose of the vaccine by Aug. 31.
Students have varying opinions on the news, with some hoping that the requirement will make campus a safer place and others still worried about the vaccine’s quick distribution time. Senior Mitchell Richter, is among the students who said they believe the university is taking the right precautions.
“I personally am pro-vaccine,” said Richter. “I am open to the idea that in order to be able to get back to normal activities we have to follow the science. However, I will say that college campuses requiring the vaccine may be a bit of an overstep into an individual’s choice.”
London Asbury, an advertising student at MSU, said she believes that the vaccine should not be a requirement placed by the university.
“I feel that MSU requiring students to wear masks indoors is fair, but to force us to get vaccinated is a little absurd,” said Asbury. “If they felt uncomfortable with us being on campus without vaccinations, they could’ve simply let us continue to be online.”
Terah Ostrander, a sophomore at Michigan State, said that she believes that come the fall, the university will make the right decisions on if we should return in person with regard to the Delta variant.
“I trust that MSU will move the university online if too many cases of COVID-19 begin to arise,” said Ostrander. “While personally, I don’t mind being vaccinated and wearing a mask, I do think that more complications may push returning in the fall further back.”
Zalewski said she is hoping things stay on the trajectory of returning to in person.
“It has been so long since I have attended a normal class,” said Zalewski. “If we are to not return, I will have attended more of my college career online than in person which is sad to think about. I miss walking around classes and going to the library with my friends, essentially I miss having a normal college experience.”
Richter said he does not believe that the fall will be anything close to normal and that once cases spike the university will return to online once again.
“It’s unfortunate but I do think we will be back online in the Fall,” said Richter. “It is the way things have to be due to the spread rate right now of the Delta variant. It would not make sense to have us all comeback and spread the virus constantly.”
Ostrander said that she is hoping the vaccine requirement allows everyone to return to classes in the fall.
“Earlier in the summer when it was announced that classes would be in person again, I was so excited,” said Ostrander. “Now with the vaccine and mask requirements, I am starting to feel like I am experiencing deja vu. While I still dream I will finally enter a classroom, the Delta variant is proving to make that dream less likely each day that passes.”