NMU correct in adjusting campus COVID protocols

With an ever-changing COVID-19 world comes an ever-changing academic world.

Proof of that came Sunday when Kerri Schuiling, interim Northern Michigan University president, announced in a community letter that NMU was delaying its return to in-person classes and changing its masking protocol for staff and students.

The reason? It’s obvious: Cases are rising rapidly in the region.

According to state of Michigan numbers, the state averaged 14,841 new confirmed cases over Saturday, Sunday and Monday — and the transmission rate is exponentially rising in Marquette County.

Classes at NMU were canceled for Monday and Tuesday, with remote classes taking place today through Friday.

The university also is changing its masking protocol. A total of 12,000 KN95 masks to be worn by students were expected to arrive Thursday. All campus employees are required to wear an N95, KN95 or KF94 mask, which already were available to employees.

Schuiling stated in her letter that evidence suggests these masks offer the best options for protection. She also noted that cloth masks provide little to no protection against the highly contagious omicron variant.

“It was hoped we would be able to stay face to face,” Schuiling wrote. “The virus has made us think otherwise as we ramp up our masking safety protocols.”

We’re sure many people feel this way. Most people, we suspect, would rather learn, or see their children learn, in a face-to-face setting. Switching to remote teaching also is hard for educators who have to teach in a way that likely wasn’t a big focus for most of them when they were in college learning their avocation.

NMU’s change is regrettable, but understandable. Although it is believed the omicron variant doesn’t cause symptoms as severe as the delta variant, it spreads more easily. This fact alone makes it a threat to community health.

We agree with NMU’s action, and hope that the COVID-19 situation improves so the Wildcat world — and everybody’s world — gets back to normal, whatever that is these days.

— The Mining Journal, Marquette


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