On March 11, 2020, Michigan State announced via email that they would move all classes online immediately following two positive COVID-19 cases in the state of Michigan.
In the year that's passed, there have been seismic shifts in every part of society as the virus has run rampant throughout the country. COVID-19 shut down schools, shut down businesses and added fuel to the fire of the political landscape, leading to nationwide protests and an armed insurrection.
The pandemic has flipped everyone's lives on their head, causing them to constantly adapt to the changing world around them.
"I just remember feeling very out of control because I'm very much someone that likes to be able to control stuff and that was a really tough thing," international relations and comparative cultures and politics freshman Hannah Woehrle said.
Schools were shut down, which forced students and businesses to learn the world of Zoom and virtual learning. The pandemic forced everyone inside to be socially-distanced, causing widespread mental health issues for people, especially students.
"You're going to class today, any day people love going in and feeling like they're learning something, but a lot of people lost their willpower to go," professional and public writing sophomore Emilio Zapata said.
The pandemic has produced the lowest moments in life for many people while they deal with being isolated and having to learn or work online.
"I felt like I was again losing that sense of control that I had always wanted and I felt I almost had put my life on pause," Woehrle said. "I think a lot of people have way more life-on-pause stories than this, but that was just a real disappointment."
The end of the pandemic is in sight with the emergence of three COVID-19 vaccines, but cases and the death toll continue to rise. The pandemic has lasted a year, changing every aspect of society with unmeasurable, lasting impacts on society moving forward.
Here's a look back at the past year — what life looked like in a pandemic.
People walk through Wells Hall after MSU canceled classes due to coronavirus March 11, 2020. Matt Schmucker / The State News
MSU initially announced that in-person learning would be suspended to April 20, then resume on-campus for the remainder of the year. The decision followed Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s state of emergency declaration after the first people in the state tested positive for COVID-19.
An empty Kedzie Hall classroom is pictured after MSU canceled classes due to coronavirus on March 11, 2020. Matt Schmucker / The State News
A line of people wait outside Harper's after MSU canceled classes due to coronavirus March 11, 2020. Matt Schmucker / The State News
The state of emergency did not stop students from enjoying themselves one last time before heading home. Students flocked to the bars the night the university canceled classes, ignoring health and safety protocols laid out by the MSU and the state.
A day later, Michigan State’s basketball team learned that their season was over while preparing for the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis after the NCAA canceled the remainder of winter sports and the entirety of spring sports.
Students party at housing near MSU on the Saturday before St. Patrick's Day despite health warnings related to COVID-19. Matt Schmucker / The State News
A sign in downtown East Lansing on April 1, 2020. Annie Barker / The State News
Businesses began to close their doors and set up shop online. Michigan State students migrated out of the city back to their hometowns, leaving East Lansing a ghost town.
Ann Street Plaza on March 25, 2020. Annie Barker / The State News
MSU student Matt Zubik cooks a meal in his East Lansing home during the COVID-19 "Stay-in-home" order on March 25, 2020. Matt Zubik / The State News
The dog days of the pandemic were in full effect three weeks after the first case of COVID-19 hit Michigan. Students adapted to Zoom classrooms and living in isolation as new facts came out about the virus daily.
Whitmer extended the Stay at Home order through the end of April while COVID-19 continued to worsen in Michigan. Michigan State followed suit, extending virtual learning through the summer semester.
A shelf that normally holds hand sanitizer sits empty at a Target on Grand River Avenue near MSU on March 11, 2020. Annie Barker / The State News
A man spits out of his truck at the Operation Gridlock protest April 15, 2020 in Lansing. Matt Schmucker / The State News
Even though there was widespread concern and little information about the virus at the time, people began to protest the Stay at Home orders and mask requirements. People flooded to Lansing for Operation Gridlock in mid-April to protest the shutdown of small businesses.
At the end of April, the protests returned to the Michigan Capitol for the Freedom Rally. Protestors, some armed, entered the Capitol building, once again to protest restrictions put in place to fight COVID-19.
Scenes from the Operation Gridlock protest on April 15, 2020 around the Michigan State Capitol Building. Annie Barker / The State News
A man yells at a police officer at the protest in the Capitol April 30, 2020 in Lansing. Crowds gathered to protest Governor Whitmer's stay-at-home order. The protest started outside before crowds moved inside where they were stopped from entering the House and Senate due to social distancing guidelines. While the protest was namely about the stay-at-home order, individual protestors' priorities varied from abortion to President Trump's reelection. Matt Schmucker / The State News
The school year ended in the first week of May, and the graduating class became the first in school history to graduate virtually as Michigan State remained closed.
The summer began, but students were still trapped inside because of the virus. Study abroad trips were canceled and internships vanished as businesses remained closed.
Kelsey Estes, Meghan Provenzano and Abby Henzi (left to right) pose after painting the Rock on Farm Lane April 7, 2020. Matt Schmucker / The State News
The university began to move forward to prepare for the next year with the uncertainty of COVID looming constantly. Teresa Woodruff was appointed as the provost for academic affairs, and the university began research into COVID tests and vaccines.
A graduation cap and gown photographed on April 22, 2020. Alyte Katilius / The State News
Owosso barber Karl Manke cuts hair on the steps of the Capitol at the #OperationHaircut protest in Lansing on May 20, 2020. Matt Schmucker / The State News
Protests continued at the Capitol over Stay at Home orders, including Operation Haircut, where a barber from Owosso gave free haircuts to protesters.
Protests began to ramp up at the end of May, but for an entirely different reason. Following the death of George Floyd in the hands of the Minneapolis police department, protests erupted across the nation against police brutality.
Crowds march through the streets at the march against police brutality in Detroit May 29, 2020. Matt Schmucker / The State News
A police officer in riot gear stands in front of a burning car as a man films her in Lansing May 31, 2020 at the riot over the police killing of George Floyd. Matt Schmucker / The State News
Black Lives Matter protests escalated in June, and the conversation about civil rights in America reached a boiling point. People pushed for widespread change in policing and the unfair treatment of Black citizens in the criminal justice system.
In Lansing, protesters were tear-gassed and a city-wide curfew was implemented. The protests quickly changed to marches and speeches about love and peace, with the same goal in mind for change.
Organizer Nichole Bider lights sage, representing a part of the healing process, during a moment of silence at the Pinecrest Neighborhood Juneteenth march on June 19, 2020. Devin Anderson-Torrez / The State News
Young protester looks on, as others block the highway with cones to continue their march to Lansing Mayor Andy Schor’s House on June 6, 2020. Devin Anderson-Torrez / The State News
Inside the Capitol, the state government began to lift the restrictions on small businesses and gatherings as Michigan began to gear up to reopen. They entered Phase Four of the five-step process to reopen the state to stimulate the state economy. Restaurants and other small businesses began to open their doors once again with mask requirements.
Bars in East Lansing opened their doors and welcomed students in once again when restrictions were lifted. The reopening of Harper's Restaurant and Brewpub became a superspreader event, leading to over 100 people contracting COVID-19.
Flowers sit atop a pair of track spikes at the memorial for long jumper Tony Martin at the Rock on Farm Lane July 20, 2020. Martin died in a shooting in his hometown of Saginaw the morning of July 19. Martin held the high school state record for the long jump, with a jump of 26 feet and six inches. Matt Schmucker / The State News
Friends, coaches and teammates release balloons at the memorial for long jumper Tony Martin at the Rock on Farm Lane July 20, 2020. Martin died in a shooting in his hometown of Saginaw the morning of July 19. Martin held the high school state record for the long jump, with a jump of 26 feet and six inches. Matt Schmucker / The State News
Bars did not remain open for long following the incident at Harper's. Whitmer closed all indoor bar service once again through an executive order because of the superspreader event in East Lansing.
The State of Emergency was extended again, and the original goal for the end of the pandemic in April began to feel like a distant memory. Mask restrictions and bans on indoor gatherings were put in place to try to curb the rising number of people infected in Michigan.
Incoming freshman moving into Wilson Hall on Monday, September 1, 2020. Di'Amond Moore / The State News
Michigan State began to prepare for the upcoming academic year with classes being entirely online. They prepared a limited amount of dorms for around 2,500 students that would be returning but kept the campus closed otherwise.
Athletes continued to practice and work through COVID restrictions and around positive tests among the athletes. However, the effort they were putting in came to a halt, when the Big Ten announced they would be canceling football in the fall.
The cases continued to climb in Michigan and around the country, and it started to become clear there was not an end in sight. Michigan State announced that the entirety of the fall semester would remain online and that most of the university would remain closed.
Left to right, education senior Emma Barnes, studio art senior Nora Lincoln, and graphic design senior Zoya Shevchenko study on their balcony Sept. 4, 2020. Annie Barker / The State News
Logan McCutcheon in bed during a Zoom class on Sept. 9, 2020. Lauren Snyder / The State News
Students began to move back on campus as Michigan State started its first school year in a virtual setting. A fraction of the normal amount of students moved in while most of the student body remained off campus.
Cases continued to rise in East Lansing as students returned to campus, leading to increased restrictions from the university and city to try and stop students from spreading the virus.
Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, located on M.A.C. Avenue, has been placed under immediate quarantine as of Sept. 17, 2020. Quarantine period will last until Oct. 1. Shot on Sept. 17, 2020. Lauren DeMay / The State News
The city of East Lansing forced mandatory quarantines for residents of 30 houses in East Lansing for their connection with COVID-19 cases, many of which were fraternities and sororities.
Kappa Kappa Gamma's sorority house has been put under mandated quarantine as of Sept. 17, 2020. Houses with required quarantine guidelines are marked with a yellow paper on the front door. Shot on Sept. 17, 2020. Lauren DeMay / The State News
On the national level, the upcoming presidential election began to dominate the news cycle. Donald Trump and Joe Biden began to hold rallies across the country in the most heated campaign cycle in modern times.
Dr. Jill Biden wears a mask as she prepares to address the crowd after Tonya Jamison, an administrative professional at MSU, finishes her introduction. Multiple speakers were in attendance at the Canvass Launch held at the Michigan Education Association. Shot on Oct. 29, 2020. Lauren DeMay / The State News
The presidential campaign kicked into full swing in the month leading up to the election. The stark differences between Biden and Trump led to a bitter preelection process that divided Americans on many issues, especially the pandemic.
President Donald Trump speaking at his Lansing, Michigan Rally on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. Di'Amond Moore / The State News
At MSU, administration introduced a COVID-19 early detection program for students and faculty to participate in. The "Spartan Spit Kit" allowed the university to determine the impact of COVID-19 in its own community through saliva testing.
After a spike in cases among students in East Lansing, MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. urged students, faculty and staff to sign up for a COVID-19 early detection program called Spartan Spit. Elements of the Spartan Spit kit photographed above on Sept. 14, 2020. Alyte Katilius / The State News
On the gridiron, Michigan State embarked on its first season with new Head Coach Mel Tucker. The season was largely altered because of the pandemic, such as daily testing for all players and staff and regular cancellations and rescheduling because of COVID outbreaks. The team reached its apex on Halloween, beating rival Michigan on the road after a dismal start to the season.
On the same day that swimming and diving was cut, Michigan State announced that they would not have spring break to discourage travel from students in the pandemic.
Running back Connor Heyward (11) scores the game-winning touchdown for Michigan State in Ann Arbor, MI on Oct. 31, 2020. Alyte Katilius / The State News
Poll volunteer sanatizing voting stations at Southside Community Center polling location in Lansing, Michigan on Nov. 3, 2020. Di'Amond Moore / The State News
Election Day looked much different than in the past because a large number of people chose to vote via mail rather than in person due to the pandemic. Biden wound up winning the state of Michigan and eventually the whole election after a vote-counting process that lasted days.
A voter submits their ballot at Willow Elementary in Lansing on Nov. 3, 2020. This site houses two precincts and had people trickling in for both precincts. Annie Barker / The State News
Wrappings of "I voted stickers" sit in a bin at Willow Elementary in Lansing on Nov. 3, 2020. This site houses two precincts and had people trickling in for both precincts. Annie Barker / The State News
Michelle Logan who just finished voting at the Hannah Community Center on Nov. 3, 2020. Lauren Snyder / The State News
The talk of the election did not disappear after Biden was announced as the winner. Trump filed lawsuits in states across the country, including Michigan, alleging voter fraud was the reason he lost.
The number of COVID cases began to climb exponentially as winter returned, leading to extended restrictions on gatherings for businesses. Tom Izzo tested positive for the virus in the weeks leading up to the start of the basketball season.
Despite the pandemic reaching its height, people became optimistic because of the announcement of two COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer.
A Biden supporter and Trump supporter take turns speaking on the steps of the Michigan State Capitol on Nov. 7, 2020. Primarily Trump supporters, but a few Biden supporters, flocked to the Michigan State Capitol after Joe Biden was deemed the winner of the 2020 presidential election. Annie Barker / The State News
A child and his father adorning Trump gear at the "Stop the Steal" event at Michigan's Capitol on Nov. 14, 2020. Lauren Snyder / The State News
The protests about the results of the election continued nationwide, including a Stop the Steal protest in Lansing. Misinformation continued to spread about the election and voting process, leading to further conflict between Democrats and Republicans.
Protesters gather at a "Stop the Steal" rally at the Michigan State Capitol on Nov. 7, 2020, following the release of the presidential election results. Alyte Katilius / The State News
David Richey, a pastor from Vassar, MI prays on the steps of the Michigan State Capitol following the news that Joe Biden has won the presidential election. "Abortion is very dear to my heart. There is so much turmoil. There's so much going on. We all need god." Alyte Katilius / The State News
Coronavirus cases continued to rise across the state, reaching over 16,000 confirmed cases in a day in early December. The state government continued its lockdown orders, keeping businesses closed.
An armed protestor equipped with a first aid kit and a cigarette mills around during a protest against the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on Jan. 17, 2020. Alyte Katilius / The State News
The discourse about a stolen election continued into 2021 and reached a head-on Jan. 6 when a large group of rioters broke into the U.S. Capitol building to try and overturn the results of the election.
The attempted insurrection did not lead to a change in the results of the election, and Biden was sworn in as president two weeks later.
Armed protestors gather outside of the Capitol on Jan. 17, 2020. Alyte Katilius / The State News
Michigan State women's cross country gets set at the starting line, during the Cross Country Big Ten Championship on Jan. 30, 2021. The Spartans went on to secure a second consecutive Big Ten Title. Devin Anderson-Torrez / The State News
February started with Michigan State receiving the largest donation in school history from former Michigan State basketball player Mat Ishbia, totaling $32 million. Ishbia made the donation to improve athletic facilities and enhance university athletics.
Prep sports remained banned by the state government leading to more protests at the state Capitol from parents and students to reinstate contact sports. The Let Them Play protests led to high school sports being reinstated later in February.
The Larry Nassar scandal reared its ugly head at the end of the month once again, when former gymnastics coach John Geddert was arrested for human trafficking and sexual assault in an investigation tied to Nassar. Geddert died by suicide hours after the charges against him were announced.
A sign that reads "Stop playing politics with our kids" is held up during a rally to bring back sports below a collegiate level for Michigan schools at the Michigan Capitol in Lansing on Jan. 30, 2021. Rahmya Trewern / The State News
Casey Serr (left), Skylar Ward (middle), and Gabriel Nichols (right) are the third shift janitorial staff at Olin Health Center as well as essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic on Feb. 3, 2021. Lauren Snyder / The State News
The somber milestone of a year brought news that 21% of Michigan residents age 16 and up have at least received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Spartan Head Coach Tom Izzo and sophomore guard Rocket Watts share a moment after upsetting No. 2 Michigan on March 7, 2021. Watts' 21 points led both teams. Devin Anderson-Torrez / The State News
Now with a light at the end of the tunnel, COVID restrictions put in place by the university are being lifted for students living on campus.
According to MSU Deputy Spokesperson Dan Olsen, the university has submitted an application through the state to become a vaccine provider to receive a supply.
A "GOOD LUCK SENIORS" sign lays in the seats alongside several Spartan stuffed animals during the Spartans matchup with the Badgers on March 6, 2021. After starting out with a 1-0 lead, the Spartans fell 2-1. Devin Anderson-Torrez / The State News