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Wayne State to require vaccinations for fall return to campus

Wayne State University will require everyone on campus to be vaccinated against COVID-19 this fall and must provide proof by Aug. 30 to be allowed on campus, President M. Roy Wilson announced Tuesday. The university will also require masks indoors at least through Sept. 15 amid a surge of cases linked to the delta variant and lagging vaccination rates. "As we have from the beginning of the pandemic, we are today revising our campus response to respond to emerging evidence and local data," Wilson wrote to the campus community. "To best protect the health and safety of our campus community, Wayne State will require all students, faculty and staff who plan to be on campus during the fall semester to receive their COVID-19 vaccination." Wilson noted that COVID-19 cases are increasing across the nation and positivity rates locally have grown recently from 2.4 to 3.3 percent. "The latest data regarding the delta variant is concerning," Wilson wrote. "This variant spreads more easily and may be transmitted by vaccinated individuals with rare breakthrough cases. Thankfully, the data also show that vaccines continue to be highly effective, particularly in protecting against serious illness, hospitalization and death. Full vaccination of our campus community will eventually eliminate the need for masks and allow a renewed sense of normalcy in our interactions," Wilson wrote.
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WSU to require COVID-19 vaccines for students living in dorms

Less than five weeks before students move back to Wayne State University, officials said Monday that residents of its dorms will be required to get vaccinated against COVID-19. WSU President M. Roy Wilson made the announcement in an email that accompanied results from an online survey showing 86% of respondents reported being vaccinated. Those who responded included 9,106 people, a 29.5% response rate out of the 30,853 members of the campus community. There were 23,052 students enrolled during winter semester. "We are mindful of the particular risks of congregate living," Wilson wrote. "Therefore, we are implementing a targeted mandate for students living in university housing for the fall 2021 semester ... This targeted mandate — which is similar to those implemented by several Michigan universities — will help protect those who live in close proximity to each other. It will also help us prevent spread of the virus on our campus while allowing students to interact and engage face to face — a vital part of the college experience," Wilson added. Wilson wrote Monday that more information, including how to provide proof of vaccination, would be forthcoming "in the near future." WSU has told students they would make a decision by July about whether a vaccine would be required for students living in the dorms based on case trends, said Laurie Lauzon Clabo, WSU's campus chief health and wellness officer. "We felt we couldn't wait any longer," said Clabo, who is also dean of the College of Nursing. "The timing is always tough. We believe we acted responsibility." WSU is following COVID case numbers in the city and state, and two surveys were done to assess the percentage of those vaccinated. While the number of people in the WSU community who have gotten the vaccine is good, Clabo said, the lowest level of uptake is among undergraduate students. Another survey of those living in WSU residence halls showed "overwhelming" support for a mandate, Clabo added. WSU, she said, will work with students if they are not fully vaccinated by move-in, which begins Aug. 26.
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U.S. Department of Commerce invests $754,840 in Cares Act Recovery Assistance to support medical technology innovators in southeast Michigan

Last Thursday, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) awarded a $754,840 CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant to TechTown Detroit to support innovation and entrepreneurship in the region’s medical and manufacturing sectors. This EDA grant, to be matched with $249,900 in local investment, is expected to generate $5.5 million in private investment. “TechTown has been helping to build a more resilient and inclusive economy by leveraging this region’s unique assets for more than 17 years, and now we have a partner at the highest level to help us expand our impact,” said Ned Staebler, president and CEO of TechTown Detroit. “With this grant from the Economic Development Administration, we’ll engage 25 regional stakeholders including healthcare systems, local government entities, private investors, universities and economic development organizations to advance regional innovation in medical technology, creating good-paying jobs and helping SE Michigan build back better.” “This critical support from the Economic Development Administration signals a commitment at the highest level to Detroit’s innovation ecosystem,” said Wayne State University President and TechTown Chair M. Roy Wilson. “With it, TechTown will continue to be a leader in driving the region’s economic recovery through the COVID-19 crisis via its MedHealth cluster. Since 2015, MedHealth has played a critical role in convening, educating and connecting medical innovation stakeholders in the Detroit region, and we are thrilled to work with the EDA to expand programs that will further catalyze entrepreneurship and business growth in the region’s healthcare sector.”  
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Wayne State to Anchor Detroit’s Choice Neighborhoods Initiative in Corktown

Wayne State University will be working with the city of Detroit to provide economic development initiatives to the greater Corktown neighborhood as the city deploys the $30 million Choice Neighborhoods Grant it received from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development deployment. “Wayne State University is pleased to serve as an anchor institution for the city’s Choice Neighborhoods Initiative for the transformation of Clement Kern Gardens and the Greater Corktown Neighborhood,” says M. Roy Wilson, president of WSU. “Wayne State has been a critical partner in the planning process and is excited to continue working with the city during implementation of the grant by providing evaluation services and committing $3.7 million of leverage to support neighborhood residents.”
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Mich. House pushes plan to slash UM, Wayne State funding

Michigan's 15 public universities are bracing for a potential change that would severely alter how state aid is divided up among them, with most schools expected to see increases at the expense of two of the state's top research institutions. The Michigan House of Representatives this month passed controversial legislation that would tie the annual appropriation for the state's public universities to the number of full-time Michigan students enrolled. The House plan does not include an increase in funding for higher education — unlike the 2% increase passed by the Senate and recommended by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Instead, it would keep the appropriation around $1.3 billion but shuffle how much each college gets while phasing the changes in over three years. Under the House plan, UM's Ann Arbor campus stands to lose the most: $39.5 million, or 12% of its state funding, in the first year and nearly $125 million over the first three years. Wayne State would lose $8.2 million, or 4% of its state aid, in the first year and nearly $29 million in three years. Both universities, respectively, educate a larger percentage of non-resident students. Michigan would become the only state in the nation to use resident enrollment as the sole basis for state funding, said Britany Affolter-Caine, executive director of the University Research Corridor, an alliance of UM, WSU and MSU that promotes research as a driver of the state's economy. Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson said a cut of $28.6 million over three years would dramatically impact tuition and services at the urban research institution where 2,135 of the 24,155 enrolled students are not from Michigan. The proposed funding change is a similar mechanism that is used to fund K-12 education in Michigan, which pays a set amount per student to schools each year, but it costs more to educate graduate and professional students, Wilson said. Some universities can put 300 undergraduate students into one lecture hall whereas a medical school class may not have that many. "There is a difference of scale here," Wilson said. "There needs to be a more sophisticated mechanism that better recognizes the unique missions of the 15 public universities in Michigan." Wilson added there is an underappreciation of research universities' contributions to the state's economy and residents' health and wellbeing. "Michigan has not historically appreciated the value of research," Wilson said. "There is a huge (investment) return on research. ... Research has a multiplier effect. The kind of technologies that come out of research universities: the life-saving discoveries and the improved quality of life is also really important. It's not just the financial benefit."
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Wayne State University requiring masks to be worn indoors

Despite CDC recommendations, one Michigan University is mandating masks to be worn inside. Wayne State University says the school has no practical way of differentiating vaccinated and unvaccinated people. WSU also says it will not require masks to be worn outside of campus buildings. “We need to operate in a manner that protects the safety of every member of our campus community. Therefore, masks will still be required indoors on Wayne State’s campus. Mask wearing outdoors, regardless of vaccination status, will no longer be required. We do ask that people continue to exercise caution and avoid large outdoor gatherings if the vaccination status of all participants is uncertain,” said Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson. 
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Wayne State to require masks inside campus buildings

Wayne State University will require masks to be worn indoors in spite of recently-released guidelines from the federal government and state health department, President M. Roy Wilson announced Monday. Wilson wrote in a letter to the campus community that he supports the new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which announced last week that people who are fully vaccinated no longer need to wear a mask unless required by local laws or workplace requirements. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's administration lifted mask mandates for fully vaccinated residents as of Saturday. "However, the practical limitation in the CDC guidelines is that we do not have the ability to differentiate those who have been vaccinated from those who have not," Wilson wrote. "This information is important, particularly if everyone is unmasked indoors. We need to operate in a manner that protects the safety of every member of our campus community. Therefore, masks will still be required indoors on Wayne State’s campus." Relaxing the CDC guidelines on mask-wearing for fully vaccinated residents is a hopeful, and pivotal moment in the COVID-19 pandemic, Wilson said. "The key to a fully open and healthy campus is the degree to which our campus community is vaccinated," Wilson said. "If you have not yet been vaccinated, I urge you to do so as soon as possible."  Wayne State's on-campus mandate also comes after the university offered a $10 incentive to students if they provide proof that they have been vaccinated by May 7. Of Wayne State's 27,000 enrolled students, 2,659 students participated, or about 10%. WSU spokesman Matt Lockwood said others likely have been vaccinated and did not take advantage of the incentive. Wilson will host a town hall meeting at 3 p.m. on Tuesday to discuss fall plans. He urged students to get the vaccine and said that the university Campus Health Center offers the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Said Wilson: "I look forward to seeing you all on campus soon – unmasked."
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Budget plan would cut funding at UM, WSU, reward colleges with more in-state students

The University of Michigan and Wayne State University would see deep cuts in state aid under a House Republican-authored plan that seeks to tilt taxpayer support of public universities in favor of schools with more in-state undergraduate students. The fiscal year 2022 spending plan passed by the GOP-run House Appropriations Committee would cut UM-Ann Arbor by $39.5 million — a 12.2 percent cut for one of the state's flagship research universities — and slash Wayne State's taxpayer support by $8.2 million, or 4 percent. In return, the House Republican plan would award a 10.1 percent or $5.4 million increase in funding for Oakland University through a formula that would favor universities where the majority of students are Michigan residents. Central Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University, Ferris State University, Grand Valley State University and UM-Dearborn and UM-Flint would all see their state funding rise by 10 percent next school year if the House Republican plan becomes law, according to the House Fiscal Agency analysis. Wayne State President M. Roy Wilson warned Monday the House budget plan would lead to "several painful actions" for the Detroit-based university. "Like many of our higher education counterparts, the pandemic has hit Wayne State hard," Wilson said Monday in a statement. "We are currently operating at a deficit but managing through the use of our rainy-day fund and all-around belt tightening. However, if this iteration of a higher education budget is passed, we would be forced to take several painful actions." Wayne State has fought state funding formulas in the past that penalized the school for having more emphasis on research, as well as a high percentage of graduate students and non-traditional part-time undergraduates who take longer than six years to complete a bachelor's degree. The funding formula calls for additional reductions in 2023 and 2024, though there was no analysis from the House Fiscal Agency of how that would impact the bottom line of UM, Wayne State and others in future years.
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Wayne State community pushes for vaccine mandate for fall

Another university community is lobbying for a vaccine mandate for those returning to campus in fall. More than 700 Wayne State University professors, staff and students have petitioned the administration to require a coronavirus vaccine for students, faculty and staff to avoid outbreaks and promote safety. Campus leaders presented Wayne State's petition, dated April 8, to President M. Roy Wilson and Provost Laurie Lauzon Clabo two weeks ago and added their support to the university's efforts so far, said Fabrice Smieliauskas, a Wayne State assistant economics professor. But they have not received a formal response. WSU spokesman Matt Lockwood said university officials are surveying students, staff, faculty anonymously to assess the magnitude of who has been vaccinated among its community, which includes 24,000 students who enrolled in winter semester. It also needs to analyze the impact of the incentive the president offered to buy lunch for students if they got vaccinated. “We will consider this data and other COVID-related metrics before we consider taking any additional actions," Lockwood said. Wilson recently said during a radio interview that, "we may be heading into a mandate" but added that the lunch incentive was showing positive results. "I’d like to try to do anything possible to not issue a mandate," said WSU's president.
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Mort Harris, philanthropist and American Axle co-founder, dies at 101

Mort Harris, who co-founded auto industry supplier American Axle & Manufacturing Inc. and earned renown for his philanthropy, has died at 101. Born April 11, 1920, in Detroit, Harris started attending Wayne State University in 1939. During World War II, he was a fighter pilot, flying a B17 bomber on 33 runs over Germany and France, including two on D-Day. After the war, he attended Wayne State University but didn't finish, Harris told The News in 2019.  "I wish I could start all over and get a bachelor's degree in business," he said at the time. Harris eventually turned to industry, joining his uncle's industrial slag company, then buying a metallurgical products firm. After American Axle went public in 1999, he told The News, "I thought, 'OK, now what am I going to do?' I chose philanthropy." He had already frequently contributed to institutions such as the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Institute of Arts and Michigan Science Center. His name now graces a recreation and fitness Center at Wayne State. In 2017, he gave $10 million to help Wayne Med-Direct, a Wayne State University program that aids admission to an undergraduate honors college and creates a pipeline to medical school.  Harris also had been among the school's top five donors, having also contributed to social work and literacy programs. In 1970, he established the Edith Harris Memorial Scholarship in the School of Social Work in honor of his first wife, joining the Anthony Wayne Society, the university’s highest donor recognition group, as an inaugural member, officials said. With his second wife, Brigitte, he continued to support a lecture series in the School of Social Work and scholarships for students in the College of Engineering, along with the Damon J. Keith Collection at the Law School and other university initiatives. In 2012, they established the Mort Harris Endowed Scholarship Fund in the School of Medicine and the Mort Harris Office for Adult Literacy Endowment Fund with a $5 million gift. Harris also supported many community organizations, including the Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan, Focus: HOPE, and Detroit Public Television, Wayne State said. In a statement Friday, WSU President M. Roy Wilson described Harris as a humble giver. "Anyone who has reached his incredibly high levels of success could be justifiably proud, but that wasn’t Mort," Wilson said. "Despite his financial success and his many military and civilian honors, Mort was humble and kind, and he would happily opt for a sandwich over a five-star meal because it was the people he was with that mattered most. "Wayne State was the fortunate beneficiary of Mort’s thoughtful generosity, and his substantial gifts were often in support of students in need."
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Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson aiming for a 90% campus vaccination rate

The recent surge in COVID-19 cases throughout Michigan has dampened hopes of a prompt return to normalcy. Schools and universities are once again having to navigate reopening plans for the fall as the state endures significant community spread. Some universities in Metro Detroit, including Oakland University, have announced that they will require students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated before returning to campus. M. Roy Wilson is the President of Wayne State University. He says that Michigan was once seen as a leader in managing the racial disparities present in the spread of COVID-19. Now, he says, that progress has dramatically diminished. “Michigan really was a model early on in terms of what can be done … in terms of deaths and racial disparity. … Obviously, the overall situation has really deteriorated … it hasn’t gone back to as bad as early days … but it’s disappointing,” says Wilson on the disparate outcomes of COVID-19. With the benefit of hindsight, Wilson says while he wouldn’t enact a complete state shutdown at this point, perhaps he wouldn’t have opened the state back up when the governor did. On the criticism Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is facing, Wilson says it’s easy to play Monday morning quarterback. “It’s easy to pick one or two things and say this is the cause … overall, I think the governor has done a good job,” says Wilson. As for Wayne State University, Wilson says he hopes incentives will encourage more students and staff to get vaccinated before the fall. He adds that to open safely, a large majority of the campus must be vaccinated. “We may be heading into a mandate … I don’t want to jump into that, but it’s a possibility for the fall … right now, I’d like to try to do anything possible to not issue a mandate. … I’d like to see about a 90% campus vaccination rate,” says Wilson on a potential vaccine mandate for the fall.
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Wayne State students who show proof of COVID vaccine will get money added to campus card

Wayne State University is offering a monetary incentive to students who receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Students who show proof of immunization will get a $10 credit added to their OneCard, the university announced. The credit can be used for Grubhub or used on campus. "As we announced last month, we expect the majority of our fall classes to be offered in person. There is nothing we would like more. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 numbers in Michigan are currently at an unacceptably high level," said President M. Roy Wilson. "The best way to ensure a return to campus in September is to get a vaccination if you haven’t yet done so."
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Wayne State University offers students money to get COVID-19 vaccine

Wayne State University is dangling some free money as an incentive to get students to get vaccinated. The offer from the midtown Detroit school is simple — upload proof of vaccination by May 7 and get $10 added to their student accounts. The proof has to show students have had at least their first shot, if they are getting a two-dose vaccination. The money can be used right away for Grubhub orders or saved to be used on campus in the fall. The vaccination can take place through the university's campus health center or anywhere else. University President M. Roy Wilson outlined the move in an email to students Wednesday morning. "As we announced last month, we expect the majority of our fall classes to be offered in person," Wilson wrote. "There is nothing we would like more. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 numbers in Michigan are currently at an unacceptably high level. The best way to ensure a return to campus in September is to get a vaccination if you haven’t yet done so. To further encourage you to take this critical step, we are providing an extra incentive — although the best incentive is your good health. In addition to getting vaccinated, please continue to take the appropriate precautions to ensure the health and safety of yourselves, our campus and the community. Thank you for doing your part to help keep our campus Warrior Strong."
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Wayne State plans 2022 celebration for grads who missed in-person commencement ceremony

Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson knows now isn't the time to have an in-person graduation, but he hasn't stopped thinking about what it could look like when the Detroit university can once again offer one. Increasingly, his thoughts have gone back a couple of decades to a 1995 ceremony he visited in post-apartheid South Africa. "It's one of those graduations I'll never forget," Wilson recently told the Free Press. He's now tasked the Wayne State staff to come up with some sort of grand celebration for the graduates who, because of COVID-19, didn't get an in-person ceremony in the spring of 2020 and December 2020 and won't get one this spring either. While no official date has been set, the school is planning on something in April 2022. School officials hope to attract a big name speaker and are working to figure out other details. The school is still planning a virtual ceremony this spring for the class of 2021, just like it did for other classes affected by COVID-19. "I have no idea what the level of interest will be, but we wanted to offer something special," Wilson said. The university didn't want to tack the ceremony on to ceremonies for 2021-2022 school year graduates. "We want something separate from next May," Wilson said. "We don't want to take away from special days for anyone. They each deserve their own day." The 1995 University of Natal ceremony Wilson attended in South Africa was billed as a reconciliation ceremony for all the Black students who had graduated but hadn't had a ceremony, because of the apartheid of the time in South Africa. "All of these students from the past four or five decades were invited," Wilson said. Various dignitaries gave speeches, including some of the most powerful speeches Wilson has ever heard. Wayne State officials believe about 10,000 graduates will have missed an in-person commencement ceremony because of the pandemic.
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Spotlight on the News: Michigan's COVID-19 surge; what do top medical experts think?

Spotlight on the News examined Michigan's recent surge in COVID-19 cases through the eyes of two of the state's most experienced infectious disease medical experts. Guests included Professor Marcus Zervos, MD, Assistant Dean, Global Affairs, Wayne State Medical School & Division Head, Infectious Diseases, Henry Ford Health System; and Associate Professor Paul E. Kilgore, MPH, MD, FACP, Pharmacy, Family Medicine & Public Health, Wayne St. University & Senior Investigator, Global Health Initiative, Henry Ford Health System. What do they think is behind Michigan being the nation's latest coronavirus hot spot?
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How 5 colleges have reacted to spring COVID spikes

With semesters coming to a close, commencements on the horizon and the hope of vaccines being dispensed to students, colleges aren’t taking chances when a spike in numbers occurs. Institution leaders are being quite vocal in letting students know those trends are not OK. Wayne State University, located in Detroit, simply has been caught in a wave of local cases forced to cancel sporting events, halt in-person instruction and restrict access to certain facilities for 10 days, taking an abundance of caution to protect those in the city. At the same time, it is also asking its community to protect itself. “We continue to urge members of campus to get a vaccination if they haven’t yet done so,” President M. Roy Wilson told Wayne State’s faculty and students. “While we are all hopeful about the future with the rollout of vaccinations, we must continue to take the appropriate precautions to ensure the health and safety of our campus and the broader Detroit community.”
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WSU to reduce number of people on campus, citing increased COVID numbers

Wayne State University said Saturday it is planning to reimpose restrictions to reduce the number of people on campus, citing increased coronavirus cases across the state. Starting Wednesday, the following measures will be taken unless case numbers fall within an "acceptable range," according to an email from President M. Roy Wilson to the WSU community. Face-to-face instruction on campus will be canceled with the only exception being clinical rotations in licensed health professions. All athletics practices and competitions will be suspended. Teams may resume practice after 10 days if 80% or more of team personnel have received their full COVID-19 vaccination. Laboratory research units must take steps to reduce current time-on-site activity for authorized personnel by 25% effective Wednesday. They must also prepare a contingency plan for an additional reduction of time-on-site as the situation evolves. The reduced level does not apply to fully vaccinated individuals currently involved with authorized on-site research activities. Guest access to student housing will be restricted. Students currently living in campus housing are permitted to continue doing so and must continue to follow campus health and safety guidelines. Towers Cafe will move to takeout only. Campus libraries will remain open but may be subject to increased restrictions. The Student Center Building is closed except for individuals attending the vaccine clinic. The W Food Pantry will remain open and will facilitate technology loans to students in need. With the exception of critical infrastructure employees, those who can work from home should do so. Metrics on campus, in the region and across Michigan will be reevaluated in 10 days, according to Wilson. If the situation has improved, Wayne State will reinstate the suspended activities. If the numbers still remain high, the period of limited on-campus activities will be extended accordingly, he said. Students and faculty are asked to monitor their communications and check the Wayne State coronavirus website for follow-up information or to contact a supervisor with specific questions.
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Wayne State joins parade of universities headed back to near normal in fall

Wayne State University has joined the parade of Michigan universities and colleges planning on a fall that will look almost like a normal fall on the Midtown Detroit campus. "With COVID-19 vaccines more readily available — and all Michigan residents age 16 and older eligible for vaccines beginning April 5 — I believe this fall will see a return to many of our beloved campus activities, events and traditions," school president M. Roy Wilson said in a message to the campus community on Tuesday. "All students, faculty and staff will be expected to follow on-campus health procedures and guidelines. We will continue to monitor and adapt these guidelines based on emerging scientific evidence and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health officials." Wayne State joins the bulk of Michigan universities and colleges who have made similar announcements, including the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Oakland University. The announcement said: Classes will largely return to face-to-face instruction. As allowed by the state, fans will be allowed back at sporting events. Campus events will start running again, but still may be modified based on requirements in place this fall. More Wayne State employees will be coming back to work on campus to provide services to students. That matches the announcements made by other universities as well, all of whom are optimistic their campuses will return to somewhat normal life.
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Wayne State announces plan for fall classes

Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson announced Tuesday that the majority of classes will resume in-person in the fall, on-campus housing will open and athletics will resume with spectators in the stands in compliance with state guidelines. The university also will offer more virtual learning options as a result of lessons learned from the year-long COVID-19 pandemic. "We are excited to return to more of our classrooms," Wilson wrote in a letter to the campus community. "With COVID-19 vaccines more readily available — and all Michigan residents age 16 and older eligible for vaccines beginning April 5 — I believe this fall will see a return to many of our beloved campus activities, events and traditions." Wilson encouraged the Wayne State community to get a COVID-19 vaccine. "This will play a major role in allowing us to offer a more open campus this September," Wilson said. He said many parts of campus will resume with health and safety measures in place including campus dining, retail, student activities and celebrations. More employees will also be returning to work and the Campus Health Center will continue its Campus Daily Screener program to monitor campus cases of the virus.