MU leaders discuss plans for fall return to campus in virtual town halls
University of Missouri's Show Me Renewal plan emphasizes the need for community members to practice safety protocols.
During two recent virtual town halls, UM President and MU Interim Chancellor Mun Choi and other university leaders discussed the University of Missouri’s Show Me Renewal plan, outlining the fall return to campus.
Seven work groups representing areas across campus are working closely with local and state public health officials to ensure a safe return to campus. The work groups are: academics, research, student affairs, testing and tracing, facilities, athletics and communications.
In his opening remarks, Choi emphasized the responsibility community members have to follow safety protocols, including social distancing, hand washing, wearing face coverings and monitoring symptoms to keep themselves and each other safe.
“We want a very healthy and vibrant campus experience,” Choi said. “But our own individual actions can affect and prevent that experience for everyone if we don’t take these precautions seriously.”
As part of the plan, adjustments have been made to classrooms and other shared spaces across campus. Seating has been spaced apart to follow social distancing norms, and face coverings will be required in classrooms and campus buildings. Instructors will wear face shields when teaching so they can be better understood by students – especially those who read lips.
“The plan allows us to make sure that our on-campus living and dining, meeting, office and classroom spaces for students, staff and faculty are safe,” Provost Latha Ramchand said. “Our plan balances the need for essential learning opportunities that are possible only in small classes like labs, with the desire to protect the health and safety of all our stakeholders.”
Viewers, including faculty and staff and students and families, had the opportunity to submit questions before and during each of the town halls. Some of the key takeaways from frequently asked questions include:
• If a student has a positive COVID-19 test, the testing facility reports the result to the local public health department, which initiates a case investigation and tracing of close contacts. MU will collaborate with the health department to provide case investigation and contract tracing support. Students who test positive will be isolated, and contact tracers will notify anyone who is considered a close contact with next steps. Students are encouraged to return home to self-isolate if it is safe and possible to do so. If they are unable to do so, isolation and quarantine facilities will be made available by MU.
• A variety of metrics will be considered in a possible escalation or de-escalation of the university’s response to COVID-19, including MU-associated active cases and Boone County active cases, the availability of hospital care and isolation space, and the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning supplies.
• The university currently has two drive-through testing sites and is working to identify a walk-up testing location.
• Staff will clean and disinfect every classroom and common area daily. Classrooms will also be cleaned and disinfected between classes. Hand sanitizer will be placed at the entrances of all buildings, and disinfecting wipes will be available in classrooms and throughout campus facilities.
• Campus dining will not have buffets, and tables will be spread out to accommodate social distancing. All dining facilities will also have takeout options available. Staff will wear PPE and all campus dining locations will be frequently cleaned and disinfected.