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At NMU, remote learning through semester

May commencement ceremony canceled

Signage on the campus of Northern Michigan University is pictured. (Journal file photo)

MARQUETTE — Northern Michigan University students will have to continue their classes via remote learning through the rest of the semester as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“I think it was one of those anti-climactic announcements,” NMU President Fritz Erickson said. “I was talking to a number of students, and they looked at me, like, ‘We knew that. We knew that was going to happen.'”

Erickson said he’s pleased with the transition to online learning during the crisis.

“It’s been absolutely remarkable how everyone on campus has responded, from the faculty that have found ways to take courses that frankly I never thought could be done online — or in some sort of remote-learning way — and have figured it out and are delivering the quality experience,” Erickson said. “And the students are responding. They’re working really hard.”

The students, he noted, appear to be following advice and guidance.

“I’ve not seen any groups more than three or four,” Erickson said. “They’re very understanding and supportive of one another.”

He said NMU will examining options for the rest of the semester.

“We’ve created a mechanism where students could get pass/fail, satisfactory/unsatisfactory grades rather than letter grades in select circumstances,” Erickson said. “It doesn’t work all the time, but that’s just another tool in the toolbox for faculty. And we continue to look for ways to do those kinds of things.”

He stressed the campus is “very much open,” as about 75% of the residence halls are filled, with both students and their parents wanting that option to continue.

“They feel it’s safer than their personal circumstances,” Erickson said. “We work really hard to try and give everyone the opportunities to make the decisions that best fit them and their families.”

However, summer courses might not be impacted in a major way.

“Fortunately for us, the majority of our summer courses are online because that fits the needs of our students,” he said.

However, Erickson said NMU is exploring whether more summer courses could be taken online, although that decision doesn’t have to be made right away.

“I think if I were reading tea leaves, I would suspect that’s likely to be the case,” Erickson said.

NMU also made the decision to cancel the May commencement ceremony.

That ceremony had been scheduled for May 2 in the Superior Dome.

An alternative date is being examined, Erickson said.

“The early thinking right now is if we can find a way to do it in August, that would be great. But everything’s so fluid,” Erickson said. “We don’t want to make promises and set hard dates until we have a little bit more guidance, a little bit better understanding of where things are likely headed.”

NMU has the latest developments on the coronavirus outbreak on its website at www.nmu.edu/covid/.

On that website, it was announced that NMU’s 24-hour study lounge has been moved from Harden Hall to Jamrich Hall, since Jamrich Hall provides more room for social distancing.

The hours will be 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday effective immediately. Saturday and Sunday hours will be noon to 10 p.m.

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net

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