Freshmen have mixed feelings about dorm life during COVID-19

Michigan State University allowed housing for an additional 2,500 students on campus during the spring semester.  

Photo of MSU freshman Maggie Neumaier in front of Bailey Hall in Brody Neighborhood. Freshman Maggie Neumaier moved into Bailey Hall in Brody Neighborhood. Neumaier said, “The reason I decided to move into the dorms is because I felt like I was missing out staying home. I already had friends up here, so I wanted to get the college experience in the dorms and move out here.” 

Neumaier said she enjoys living in the dorms, but the pandemic has made it hard to meet people because there are not a lot of students in the dorms.

She said, “My building is not very lively. It is very quiet here.”

MSU students living on campus have to follow health and safety measures.

Portage Public Schools experience high COVID-19 outbreak

Portage schools had the highest number of outbreaks of COVID-19 the week of March 15, compared to schools across Michigan 

Portage Central High School had 24 ongoing cases from staff members and students while Portage Central Elementary had 20 ongoing cases from staff and students. 

Portage Central High School Principal Eric Alburtus said many of those cases stemmed from the men and women’s basketball teams starting up their season. 

“We actually shut down our entire basketball program for about a week and a half because every varsity women’s basketball player had the virus except for one,” Albertus said. “On the men’s side, almost half of our varsity and fewer JV and freshman players were either quarantined or tested positive.”  

Portage Central High School is now doing a rapid test weekly for the basketball, cheerleading and wrestling team to ensure another outbreak does not occur. 

“It’s all about communication,” Albertus said. “If the parents and staff continue to communicate with each other and keep letting us know what’s going on in their own families, then we can respond to it.” 

Elementary students in the district have had the option of in-person learning the entire school year, with more students returning each quarter.  

“What we have chosen to do at Portage Public Schools is from the start of the school year our elementary students had the option to go in-person or stay online,” Albertus said. “At each quarter, our families could make that decision to either return to in-person classes or remain remote.” 

Portage Central Elementary offered an in-person option for all elementary students since the start of the school year and never moved exclusively online like many other elementary schools. As a result of this, Portage Central Elementary has 20 ongoing COVID-19 cases, which is much higher than other elementary schools within the last week.  

Community relations manager of Portage Public Schools, Michelle Karpinski said, “we interact with the Health Department each time we are notified of a positive case, to help with contact tracing and to determine who may have been a close contact, who may need to quarantine and for how long, and whether the quarantine affects an individual, the entire classroom or the entire school.” 

The district has many protocols for students who may have been in close contact with someone who tested positive. 

“The Health Department doesn’t recommend our schools do screening for students but recommends that our families screen their child prior to sending them to school or any school activity,” Karpinski said. 

Portage public schools are enacting necessary protocols to prevent any more outbreaks within the district as the state begins to open up.

Michigan high school students adjust to in-person classes

In-person high school classes in Michigan came back March 1, but in April, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was encouraging schools to go virtual again. East Lansing Public Schools have been offering in-person instruction for middle school and high school since March 1. 

John Sword, a sophomore at East Lansing High School, said online school came with a lot of difficulties and was hard to keep up with. After transitioning back to in-person classes, Sword said he feels incredible. 

He appreciates having an actual schedule and believes that in-person classes allow students to focus more and are easier to pay attention to. He also said the social aspect of high school improved greatly when they got back. “It felt amazing because I recently got my license and I was able to drive my friends to school and do all the fun stuff,” Sword said.

Students at Michigan State University social distancing

Remote learning challenges Michigan college students’ time management skills

@msuunionStudents at Michigan State University social distancing during remote learning. Since March 2020, colleges and universities throughout Michigan have implemented remote learning to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect students, professors and staff.  

Some students who used to complete schoolwork early while classes were face-to-face have said they now find themselves waiting until the last minute to watch pre-recorded lectures and complete assignments. 

Senior Hannah Amor of Oakland University said trying to make time in her schedule for all her remote classes has often caused her to wait until the last minute to complete coursework. 

“I have to allow time for all my classes, and I feel like I don’t have enough time in my week,” said Amor. 

During remote learning, some students have found themselves being more distracted, multitasking on other assignments and projects while attending lectures. 

Andrew Pascaris, junior at Lawrence Tech University, said he notices himself completing other work while he is in a Zoom lecture. 

“That can be a bad thing because you’re not as engaged in the class you’re supposed to be in,” said Pascaris. Some students have asynchronous courses that do not require a scheduled meeting time each week. For Alena Graves, junior at Michigan State University, without the commitment of being in class at a set time allows her to put off coursework until just before the due date.  

“I wait until the last possible moment to watch lectures,” said Graves. “I find it so easy to spend hours doing nothing rather than having a schedule that I have to stick to.” 

MSU sophomore Julie Gusmano said, “I can get work done before the week even starts if I wanted to, but other times I use that as a disadvantage and save things until their final due dates.”  

Gusmano also said asynchronous classes have caused her to forget or misread important deadlines. 

“I have missed exam times due to writing down the wrong dates on accident, whereas in person, [professors] would be reminding daily about exam times and places,” said Gusmano. 

Online Model UN changes experience, increases access

MODEL UN: Central Michigan University will host its annual Model United Nations for high school students April 9-11 — virtually rather than in person because of the pandemic. MSU and U-M recently did the same. Participants debate world issues and crises, real, historic and imaginary, from Jurassic Park and Dungeons and Dragons to international arms and the Holy Roman Empire.A Dearborn teacher says the online format made the conference more accessible and affordable for her students. By Sheldon Krause. FOR DETROIT, LANSING CITY LIMITS & ALL POINTS.

Picture of teachers Jason Perrin and Lesley Stauffer of the East China School District

East China School District piloting new virtual academy next fall

ST. CLAIR COUNTY, Mich. – Jason Perrin and Lesley Stauffer, teachers in the East China School District, proposed a new virtual academy for next fall. The program, called the East China Virtual Academy, will be open to K-12 students and will allow users to diversify their schedules based on their own learning needs.

Holt High School mascot logo shows ram's head graphic

Holt schools returns to in-person class, commit to student health

Along with wearing masks, students returning to the schools March 15 will have three-sided Plexiglas barriers on desks. Students are restricted to their classrooms during the beginning and end of the school day, and they won’t have access to traditional lockers. School security will help maintain social distancing and other COVID-19 protocols. Teachers will not only be working with in-person students, but will also maintain an online presence for students still at home.

Teachers see different hardships during COVID-19

A time that has presented many challenges with having to stop in-person learning, then having to move everything online, and then finding a balance of both, the COVID-19 pandemic has been physically and emotionally draining on educators. 

For Cami Ashley, a kindergarten teacher at Lakeshore Elementary, it has been personally difficult. “This pandemic has really weighed on me emotionally. It has been an extremely difficult year and has made me look into alternative careers. This is also true of a lot of my colleagues as well. I feel like I am constantly in the ‘fight or flight’ zone throughout the day. Our school is in person Monday through Friday full time, so there has been no down time for teachers to catch their breath,” she said. 

Kevin Barkholz, an English teacher and girls’ golf coach at Jackson High school, said, “The largest obstacle throughout this COVID era, has been the perceived isolation.