Guidance on MSU Youth Programming During Summer and Fall 2021

March 5, 2021 - David Chupak

Recently, a team of department leaders and campus experts on health and safety reviewed several factors to determine the parameters for youth programming at MSU throughout the remainder of 2021. With careful consideration of the state of the COVID-19 pandemic, the availability of campus support and resources for mitigating and responding to COVID-19 transmission, and the implications both for the campus and surrounding communities, MSU youth programs are advised to not operate either on campus or away from campus through face-to-face instruction throughout the duration of Summer 2021 and Fall 2021. MSU youth programs may continue to operate through remote and virtual instruction. Exceptions to this policy, including the exception process and guidance for MSU Extension, MSU summer bridge, transition, and learning community programs, and MSU Intercollegiate Athletics are noted below.

Guidance for Departments Hosting External Youth-Serving Groups. Departments hosting external groups on campus are advised to not host in-person youth camps, conferences, and programs throughout Summer 2021 and Fall 2021.

Considerations for MSU Youth Programming During Summer and Fall 2021. Currently, our absolute priority is to facilitate a safe return for students, faculty, and staff in Fall 2021. Doing so will require a great deal of planning, coordination, and effort. The process for implementing strategies for testing, preventing COVID-19 transmission, and contact tracing is difficult to accomplish with skill and safety in a very short time period. We care deeply about our youth programs, youth participants, program staff and volunteers, and the greater Spartan community throughout the State of Michigan and beyond, and we are conscientious of the potential health and safety consequences that could occur if we were to bring groups together for youth camps, conferences, and events this summer. It is with all of this in mind that we have decided that these programs should not be facilitated through face-to-face operations.

Furthermore, the processes, resources, and monitoring that will be required to bring MSU students, faculty, and staff back to campus in Fall 2021 are likely to take all of MSU’s capacity to ensure safety. Over the past year, we have learned a great deal about the planning, resources and infrastructure needed to operate in-person programming safely, and rather than continue to chance continually shifting operations from in-person to online and back again, we look forward to implementing a safe return to face-to-face youth programming when conditions will be more favorable for programs to operate without heightened risk of COVID-19 transmission and resulting delays in operations.

Exception Process for MSU Youth Programs. There will be an exception process for MSU youth programs, but in the interest of promoting safety for program participants, the campus community, and the greater community throughout the State of Michigan, the parameters for programs to be considered for exceptions will be very stringent. Whether MSU youth programs are attempting to operate face-to-face on MSU’s campus, at off-campus MSU facilities, or in non-MSU community spaces, they must have an exception through the exception process that was announced for MSU youth programs in Fall 2020.

Guidance for MSU Extension. MSU Extension programs are advised to follow the guidelines and processes related to Summer operations that are being communicated by the MSU Extension Director’s Office.

Guidance for MSU Summer Bridge, Transition, and Learning Community Programs. MSU summer bridge, transition, and learning community programs for incoming MSU students may continue plans for face-to-face operations in accordance with University policies, procedures, and the MSU Community Compact.

Guidance for MSU Intercollegiate Athletics. Over the past several months, MSU Intercollegiate Athletics has implemented an internal infrastructure and processes for mitigating and responding to COVID-19 transmission, including but not limited to testing and contact tracing. Moving forward, MSU Intercollegiate Athletics may facilitate outdoor, daytime, non-residential youth camps, if they are prepared to approach those programs in a similar fashion to their practices and competitions with regard to their use of resources and protocols for all COVID-19 mitigation and response requirements, including the enforcement of the MSU Community Compact and Additional Guidance for Engaging With Partners and Public Events. This decision was made solely on the basis of MSU Intercollegiate Athletics’ capacity for conducting all COVID-related functions and their outdoor operations.

Timeline for Returning to Face-to-Face Operations for MSU Youth Programs. As we look forward beyond the summer and consider the timeline for a return to face-to-face operations for youth programs at MSU, we look forward to revisiting these discussions following a safe return for MSU students, faculty, and staff in the Fall 2021 semester. After that safe return has been accomplished, we will continue discussions to assess the potential of a safe return to face-to-face MSU youth programs during Spring 2022.