Story by Leah Ash, Reporter
Photo courtesy Ashley Postema
Lockdowns and various safety precautions have become the norm in society throughout the year. As we continue on into the school year, many colleges have had to deal with various outbreaks of COVID-19. All colleges have responded differently to their crises, and knowing what is going on in colleges throughout Michigan can prepare Aquinas students for potential scenarios if cases spike here.
Colleges are not immune to the spreading of COVID-19. At the end of August, the president of Michigan State University, Samuel L. Stanley Jr., announced that the college would be switching to remote learning for the fall semester. He said, “Given the current status of the virus in our country — particularly what we are seeing at other institutions as they re-populate their campus communities — it has become evident to me that, despite our best efforts and strong planning, it is unlikely we can prevent widespread transmission of COVID-19 between students if our undergraduates return to campus.”
The vast majority of classes were sent online and most students sent home, though there were some exceptions for graduate programs and specific colleges like nursing. Michigan State University focused on minimizing the spread of the virus with these measures and are keeping minimal people on campus.
Recently, Grand Valley State University experienced a spike in cases, having over 600 students test positive since Aug. 23. Most of the cases were shown to have originated off campus, and Ottawa County has come forward with new precautions for the college. The students at the main campus for GVSU were given a stay-at-home order. It is not a full lockdown, as students are still able to go to in-person classes, go grocery shopping, and go to the cafeteria. The students are being told to limit their movements, to minimize spread among students and to protect the surrounding community as well.
The Ottawa County Health Department has been in communication with the college to minimize the spread of COVID-19 to the surrounding community, which is deemed to be more at-risk. This stay-at-home type order is only for the students in Ottawa County, so it does not include the Grand Valley campus downtown in Kent County.
Aquinas College has also recently experienced a spike in positive cases, and has implemented some new precautions in its wake. The Aquinas COVID-19 dashboard shows that there have been 18 cases since the start of August, seven of which are active as of September 26. Based on the new restrictions, it appears that Aquinas is doing all that it can to keep students healthy and on campus. New precautions include: No indoor social gatherings of more than five people, in-person meetings are not allowed to be held indoors, and any guests to the campus are required to have a symptom screening done at Campus Safety. Meanwhile, no cases have been linked to Aquinas classes, so they will continue on as normal.