COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
As the University of Missouri continues to welcome students to the classroom amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the institution will continue in-person and hybrid learning after Thanksgiving Break.
The university had previously said it would make this decision after assessing the situation with the coronavirus at around this time. Classes have been in session for about eight weeks of the 16-week semester.
Active cases in MU students have gone down about 90% from 683 to 70 active cases reported Thursday, according to MU. The university has seen 1,761 total cases since Aug. 19.
UM System President and MU Chancellor Mun Choi said in a news release that he believes the university doing well.
"We've been very pleased with how our students, faculty and staff have responded to the new campus requirements," Choi said. "We have demonstrated that we can have in-person classes at Mizzou and do so safely."
Choi spoke to the MU Faculty Council about the decision at their meeting today. No member of the council gave any feedback, besides one saying it was a positive choice.
The university says several factors went into making this decision, including financial issues for students not being able to work on-campus jobs, pandemic management success and internet access for low-income or rural students
Provost Latha Ramchand said MU is still prepared to change course if needed.
"As always, we will continue to monitor the pandemic and its impact on the county, and we will make any necessary changes as quickly as possible," Ramchand said.
The university says there have been several conversations about the decision with faculty, staff and students. One reason other universities are deciding not to return after the break is travel-related spread of COVID-19.
MU spokesman Christian Basi said students potentially bringing the virus back to campus from traveling was considered, but the ramifications of not opening campus after the break outweighed those concerns.
"These are not simple, oh we are going to do this because of this, you know, we have looked at this since the beginning of the semester," Basi said.
The university says it will continue to monitor the situation and could make adjustments as Thanksgiving break comes closer.
"If we see change, if we see drastic differences, if we have concerns about managing the pandemic, we're going to make a different choice," Basi said.
Some students disagreed with the decision to come back after the break, freshman Caitlin Almquist citing health concerns.
"You never know what people are bring back you know, since they are traveling all over the country," Almquist said.
Another student Chloe Johnston whos is a sophomore said the length of time they would be back is not worth the risk. The break is Nov. 21-30. The last day of finals for students is Dec. 18.
"I really feel like it would be unnecessary because it not the long that we would be back and I think it's just safer if we stay home," Johnston said.
The university is also making plans to encourage students to not travel over Thanksgiving break. Those will include providing meals and activities for those who stay in Columbia.
This is good news for some in the business community, as students will be in the Columbia for longer. The owner of Sddison's restaurants Matt Jenne said anytime students stay in the city is good new for business.
Yet, he said he would rely on health experts opinions on if students should end up staying home
"Our businesses have been resilient throughout COVID and we just have to roll with the punches and go with what is happening today and worry about tomorrow, tomorrow," Jenne said.
According to Columbia College and Stephens College calendars, both plan to move to virtual learning after their Thanksgiving breaks.
This is a developing story. Check back here or watch ABC 17 News at 9 and 10 for more information.