Sault Ste. Marie, MI — Lake Superior State University has cancelled its annual fall homecoming, Great Lake State Weekend, out of an abundance of caution due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, while continuing to hold classes face-to-face during the semester.
“Every fall, we look forward to welcoming our alumni and friends back to campus to celebrate alumni accomplishments, cheer our Laker hockey team, highlight our signature programs and other majors, and recognize more points of pride. We also enjoy inducting a new class into our Athletic Hall of Fame every other year, including 2020. While LSSU is teaching in-person this term, we feel it’s in the best interests of our campus, the community, and the larger world during the coronavirus challenges to call off this year’s event,” said Thomas Coates, executive director of the LSSU Foundation and chair of the festivities.
Factors that led to this decision include abiding by LSSU’s “Get Here, Stay Here” approach for the fall semester, Coates explained—creating a bubble of people in proximity who agree to take the same COVID-19 precautions. LSSU’s Four Pillars of Laker Safety comprise many of these preventative measures: upholding social distancing; wearing face/mask coverings; washing hands frequently for 20 seconds, using hand sanitizer of at least 60 percent alcohol regularly, and wiping down high-frequency touch surfaces at least twice daily; and taking personal/social responsibility in encouraging others to curtail the spread of COVID-19.
Also, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan recently extended the declaration of state emergency related to the coronavirus until Oct. 1, 2020, and the Chippewa County Health Department recently urged vigilance amid an increase of positive cases in the county. Further, state regulations for the Upper Peninsula stipulate avoiding indoor gatherings of more than 10 people and outdoor gatherings of more than 250 people—and LSSU averages more than those numbers at the popular Great Lake State Weekends. Additionally, the NCAA recently announced that all Division I hockey conferences are delaying conference play.
“LSSU remains committed to keeping campus and the larger community as safe as possible in the coronavirus pandemic,” said LSSU President Dr. Rodney S. Hanley. “We’re grateful that our proactive efforts are working as well as can be expected while holding in-person classes, and bringing an influx of visitors to campus from across the region, state, and country is simply not worth the risk. Plus, doing so would run counter to our ‘Get Here, Stay Here’ tactic that our students, faculty, and staff are following.”
He concluded, “Cancelling the Great Lake State Weekend, while disappointing, is another way that we remain on high alert about COVID-19 mitigation. Our policies, procedures, and protocols follow all state and local guidelines, along with recommendations from the federal government, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, among others.”
Dates for the cancelled 2020 Great Lake State Weekend had not been chosen, and the homecoming will not take place during the 2020-21 academic year. Instead, alumni accomplishments will be honored over the coming months via social media, website, press releases, and other mechanisms, Coates said.