Nov. 12, 2020
Contact: Christian Basi, 573-882-4430, BasiC@missouri.edu
Today, University of Missouri leaders announced a decision to temporarily shift a majority of in-person undergraduate and graduate courses to remote learning for the last three weeks of instruction, including final exams, following Thanksgiving break. The shift is intended to reduce the local student population as the mid-Missouri region experiences a surge in COVID-19 cases.
“We have said from the beginning that our decisions would follow medical and public health guidance, and they would be based on a full evaluation of circumstances and not driven by a single number,” said Mun Choi, MU chancellor and UM System president. “While our experts say that MU students have not presented a direct burden to the local hospitals because they have not needed hospitalization, we are all are members of the broader community. And as the community strives to gain control of the virus, a temporary thinning of the student population is helpful.”
Mizzou has seen an 80% decrease in student cases since the university’s peak over the Labor Day holiday, and contract tracers and investigators are currently responding to any cases within 24 hours of notification.
“Having capacity at our area medical facilities, including our hospitals, is an important piece of our plans to ensure student health and safety,” Choi said. “This temporary shift will ultimately support our community and help ensure the right resources are available to support our students.”
Provost Latha Ramchand expressed appreciation to students, faculty and staff who have taken the virus seriously by taking precautions and helping keep on-campus cases low.
“Our faculty, staff and students have persevered through a fall term like no other,” Ramchand said. “They have demonstrated incredible resilience and embraced the precautions and adjustments that supported the safety of everyone. We know it has not been easy, but your efforts and commitment have made this semester possible.”
To assist with the regional surge in cases, the university announced it will share resources as they are available to support the community’s needs, including contact tracers, case investigators and medical professionals.
In a note to the campus community today, Choi and Ramchand shared the following:
- In-person instruction will continue through Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. Faculty and instructors will communicate with their classes on how instruction will proceed for the rest of the semester.
- Any student leaving Columbia for the holidays is encouraged to not return until the start of the spring semester in January.
- Residence and dining halls will remain open for on-campus students who cannot return home.
- Those who remain will have access to dining services, including a Thanksgiving meal and safe social events.
- Courses where students provide direct clinical services or interact with patients as part of their training will continue to be provided face to face.
- Campus facilities, including the libraries and labs, will remain open in some capacity for those faculty and students who need access to them for independent studies, thesis research and dissertation projects.
- Both faculty and staff operations will continue on campus, as the university does not anticipate closing the campus. Deans, department chairs and supervisors will work with individuals, including student employees, to determine if any changes in working arrangements or duties are needed.
- Free bags with safety supplies will be made available to students at the bookstore next week to support safety efforts through the holidays.
Members of the university community are encouraged to seek testing, even if they have mild symptoms, particularly before holiday travel or if going to a state that requires a negative test. Free phone visits with medical providers continue to be available through the MU Health Care assessment line, and tests not covered by insurance will be free.
“We believe these actions will support our community, and will provide the best path forward for our university’s return to in-person learning in the spring semester,” Choi said. “Our campus community will enter 2021 with a proven template for success in managing the virus on our campus amid rising national hopes for a vaccine in the near future.”
Officials plan to open the 2021 spring semester on Jan. 19 with face-to-face instruction. As they have been doing throughout the pandemic, university officials, public health officials and medical experts will continue to monitor the circumstances closely and make decisions as they become necessary.