EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Michigan State University joins other campuses in kicking off the fall semester this week.
As COVID-19 infections remain a concern for students and families, what does the pandemic look like for students?
This school year comes after two years when many students spend class time learning online. As students get on campus, an update from the state health department shows a steady case rate.
Over 19,000 new cases were reported over the past week.
“Especially this year where we are at capacity and no one is wearing masks it’s a concern. But I think that since last year, everybody had to be vaccinated and boosted, I feel a lot better about that and I think that in the past Michigan State has taken COVID concerns very seriously and I hope that continues,” said student Nicole Herbert.
“I’ve seen nobody wear masks around campus at all. But I’m trying to wear mine more inside buildings and larger spaces. I don’t really know what’s going to happen,” said Christina Rayis, an MSU freshman.
She is one of the many students who make up the university’s largest incoming freshman class. In Ingham county, health officials have tracked a seven-day case average that’s near 100 per day.
Ingham county Health Officer Linda Vail said COVID-19 is here to stay. As the infection has yet to reach an endemic stage, she said the focus is now educating the public on best practices.
“Now, should individuals pay attention to what risks are, what’s going on in the community with regards to transmission? And take steps to protect themselves? Absolutely. We talk about that with the flu, flu vaccines. We talk about that with COVID and COVID vaccines,” said Vail.
A spokesperson for the university said requiring vaccines and boosters for students, faculty and staff has been key in fighting infections on campus. This year, the university is not offering an isolation space. Out of the 300 beds set aside, they said only 10 students were in the space at any given time
Vail said while young people are less likely to suffer severe compilations from COVID, asymptomatic spread and long covid are still risks.
“We’re not that very far into really knowing what long covid is. How that happens, who is susceptible to it,” she said.
Back on campus, students are still optimistic about starting the school year in person and with fewer restrictions.
“I’m really excited to be in the classroom and not online. I can actually learn and physically see the person,” said Rayis.
Ingham County health officials said a little more than 76% of people 16 and up have gotten at least one dose of a COVID -19 vaccine.
University officials said they will soon be announcing an on-campus covid testing option. They add students should make plans with their roommates and follow university guidelines if they get sick.