Hillsdale College students will not be able to resume in-person classes until April 20, the college announced Monday due to the growing COVID-19 pandemic.
While the college originally planned to bring students back to campus by March 30, Provost Christopher VanOrman announced Monday that the college would not have them return for about another month, due to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order instructing Michigan residents to not leave their homes except for essential trips until April 13. VanOrman said in the email announcement that if things go as planned, students will be allowed to return starting April 19, but he also said students are asked not to return early to collect their things due to Whitmer’s executive order.
“Assuming that Hillsdale College will resume again on that schedule, the goal is that Commencement will be held on Saturday, May 9, as planned,” he said.
The announcement came shortly after Whitmer’s press conference on Monday morning, in which she issued an executive order prohibiting non-essential travel. The “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order goes into effect at midnight on March 24 and will last for at least three weeks, Whitmer said.
“There’s no cure, there’s no vaccine,” she said. “The only tool that we have to fight it at the moment and to support our healthcare system to respond is to give them the opportunity by buying some time.”
Whitmer noted that in 13 days, Michigan’s number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 went from zero to 1,232.
Whitmer tweeted Monday afternoon to clarify exemptions to her executive order. These include going to the grocery store, pharmacy, and hospital, as well as going outside for exercise. She also said in a Tweet that travelers can return to Michigan, if it is their place of residence, or leave the state if returning for their home elsewhere.
[THREAD] Under the Stay Home, Stay Safe Executive Order, you can:
✅ Go to the grocery store or pick up take-out food.
✅ Go to the pharmacy to pick up a needed prescription.
✅Engage in outdoor activities like walking, hiking, running, biking.
— Governor Gretchen Whitmer (@GovWhitmer) March 23, 2020
Carolyn Milligan, executive secretary to the dean of women, sent out an email Monday evening on behalf of Student Affairs to further clarify the situation for Hillsdale students. For housing, Milligan said off-campus students still in Hillsdale are encouraged to return to their permanent residence if it is “within a reasonable driving distance.” Students unable to travel home are asked to email the dean’s office, she said.
Milligan added that cars may remain on campus for the time being and that security would keep patrolling parking lots as normal.
The college will also issue refunds on meal plans, Milligan said.
“The pro-rated amount will be determined, in large measure, by the return date for the semester (at present, April 20). More details will be worked out as the situation unfolds,” she said.
Any student mail will be forwarded to home addresses on file, according to Milligan. Because of the number of packages received recently, the school has asked students to refrain from shipping anything else to the college or to their residence halls.
For items checked out from Mossey Library, Milligan said due dates will be extended until April 20, and the library will waive fines for materials checked out through the interlibrary loan system or the Michigan eLibrary Catalog.
Milligan also said the Student Activities Office will continue to send out weekly emails with announcements, as well as tips on how to keep fostering campus community from afar.