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Water Infrastructure Issues Cause Lake Superior State University to Transition to Virtual Learning

Nov. 10, 2020 — Two water infrastructure issues compel Lake Superior State University to transition to virtual learning for the final two weeks of the fall 2020 semester. The change went into effect early evening on Nov. 9, upon discovery of the problems.

“We are experiencing two water infrastructure issues: one in an academic building, Crawford Hall, and one in a residence building, Osborn Hall. Although our Physical Plant staff is working diligently on repairs, the Osborn Hall issue does not have a definitive resolution date yet, leaving it with only cold water service in the interim,” said LSSU President Dr. Rodney S. Hanley. “Given the totality of our current situation—that is, our proximity to the completion of the semester and the ongoing health and safety considerations related to COVID-19—we have made the difficult decision to transition to virtual delivery for the balance of the fall 2020 semester, including exams.”

Residence halls and dining services will remain open until semester’s end on Nov. 21, maintaining previously published dates. LSSU is providing temporary relocation support for Osborn Hall occupants who need to stay on-campus.

“As previously demonstrated, LSSU is fully prepared for online instruction,” added President Hanley. “Last March, when we switched to virtual classes for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester and the summer terms, we had purchased additional laptops, added online bandwidth, bought video software, and conducted training on how to teach remotely. Things turned out as well as could be expected.”

That said, because students and their families overwhelmingly prefer an on-campus experience, and because the Upper Peninsula has not been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic as much as other parts of the U.S., LSSU intends to return to face-to-face instruction for the spring 2021 semester.

In one preventative measure adopted earlier, LSSU will delay the start of instruction until Jan. 19, with spring break occurring the week prior. As had happened in the fall 2020 semester, LSSU again will stagger move-in processes for new and returning students in spring 2021 to minimize the number of people on campus at any one time as well as limit the number of people in each family allowed to unpack. LSSU will request that all students, faculty, and staff participate in voluntary testing clinics during move-in week as well as in ongoing testing of asymptomatic individuals for community monitoring.

LSSU upholds its Four Pillars of Laker Safety—social distancing, mask/face covering, sanitization, and personal/social responsibility—and promotes its “Get Here, Stay Here” social bubble. These protocols, plus related tactics such as free drive-thru rapid COVID-19 testing and free masks for everyone on campus, follow guidelines and recommendations of the Michigan governor’s office, the Chippewa County Health Department, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Throughout the pandemic, LSSU has partnered with the Michigan Army National Guard, the Chippewa County Health Department, War Memorial Hospital, and the Bay Mills Health Center to supplement regular on-campus rapid COVID-19 testing for campus and neighbors.

“From the start of the university’s COVID-19 response, the safety of our students, faculty, and staff has been our top priority. The decision to complete the fall semester in a virtual format, though difficult to have made, is representative of that same ongoing commitment. That said, I want to stress that this decision was due to unforeseen infrastructure challenges that will be fixed, not pandemic obstacles, which we proactively continue to monitor, address, and mitigate.”