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Mid-Missouri college preparing for students to return to campus as coronavirus pandemic continues

ABC 17 News
University of Missouri students wear masks while walking in downtown Columbia on Monday, Aug. 24, 2020.


Local colleges and universities are welcoming students back to campus for the spring semester with new COVID-19 safety requirements.

Some colleges are requiring students to be tested for the novel coronavirus before arriving on campus. The University of Missouri is requiring all students who return to the campus to get tested before arriving.

Other local colleges across Mid-Missouri have also changed their requirements for students returning to campus. Colleges and universities helped drive many of the coronavirus cases in their communities as the fall semester began last year.

Columbia College's first day of class was Monday. The college has instituted health screenings for students and has added a symptom tracker to the online student portal. Students are asked to check in with the symptom tracker and continue to provide updates throughout the semester if symptoms appear. The college will not allow any outside visitors in residence halls. Students are required to wear masks and use social distance throughout the campus.

Lincoln University will continue to require students to use social distance and wear masks throughout campus.

"Based on our numbers from the fall, the university is confident our students, faculty and staff are working hard toward our mitigation efforts," spokeswoman Misty Nunn said.

Westminster College requires students to complete a COVID-19 pre-screening before arrival. A health professional will review the information and determine if a student needs a referral for a coronavirus test. The college will continue to require masks and social distancing throughout the campus.

William Woods University will continue to require masks and social distancing throughout the campus and asks that students quarantine for 14 days prior to arriving on campus to reduce the risk of any exposure to the virus. The university was able to remain in-person for the fall semester and plans to do the same this semester. Modifications to classroom sites have been made in order for students to remain in-person for class and safely social distance. University spokesman, John Fougere, said, “we’re also using non traditional areas on campus for classrooms such as the library gymnasiums auditoriums again to give us more opportunities to have classrooms in person where people can physical distance"

Central Methodist University will require every student returning to campus to be tested before they are able to move into residential halls and campus buildings. The campus will provide testing at the Phillips-Robb Recreational Center on Sunday. Students can wait in their vehicles after taking the test and receive results within an hour. The university will bill students' insurance for the test.

Some local colleges will not have a spring break this semester. William Woods University has canceled its spring break in response to COVID safety. Spokesman John Fougere said the university is starting off the semester later than usual and the semester will end in April.

Westminster College has also decided to cancel its spring break to reduce the risk of students traveling over the break and returning to campus. Vice President Dean of Student Life, Dr. Kasi Lacey, says, "We have to make that difficult decision to cancel our spring break as well. We actually just did our schedule so our students are starting later so we will be starting this next week, typically we would be starting this week. We are still going to allow for some breaks in there but it's not going to be the full week off, because that's just not a responsible decision with people potentially traveling." Dr. Lacey said days off will be given to students throughout the semester because the university cares about their mental health.

Columbia College will have a spring break, but will not return to an in-person learning environment. The college will go completely virtual after spring break. Students living on campus are required to move out by March 26th. Dave Roberts, Dean of Student Affairs said, “We’re having students go from in-person learning to virtual learning after spring break so on March 26th we will close our in-seat campus experience so students will move out of the residence halls and go home and post-spring break they’ll finish their classes virtually at home or off-campus wherever they’re staying.”

Columbia College started classes Monday, William Woods University and Westminster College will begin classes starting next week.

Education / Lincoln University / News / Top Stories / University of Missouri
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Victoria Bragg

Victoria Bragg joined the ABC 17 News team as a multimedia journalist in October 2020.

She is a graduate of Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas and is a Dallas native.


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