COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
The University of Missouri began coronavirus testing this week and has nearly 800 students signed up for appointments that begin Sunday.
The plan is to use federal CARES Act funding for the return to campus testing. MU spokesman Christian Basi said how much the program will cost depends on the number of tests needed.
"How much we have to use will depend on how many tests we have, with the majority of students getting tested at home that does not affect us at all in terms of cost," he said.
The arrival testing for this week is for students who live on campus. Undergraduates who live off-campus are eligible and encouraged to get tested next week but it is not a requirement.
If a student tests positive during the arrival tests or at any point during the semester, Tyler Page with MU Residential Life said, the student will need to report it.
"We ask that they self-report the test information, and then we will reach out immediately to the student," he said. "We then have isolation locations and work closely to identify close contacts."
During a meeting Wednesday afternoon, Basi called on students to take the virus seriously and continue complying with COVID-19 precautions.
"We had fantastic compliance on campus last semester, 97% of our students were acting in a responsible manner, which allows us to provide an in-person experience in a safe way," he said.
The campus during the fall semester required masks and spaced out classes to allow for social distancing. Those practices will continue this semester.
The university has confirmed nearly 2,900 cases in students since the start of the fall semester, with 51 currently active. More than 300 staff members have been infected with the novel coronavirus during that period.
MU expects its case numbers to increase, and possibly spike, during the first couple of weeks of classes because of the increase in testing, said Jamie Shutter, executive director of student health and wellbeing.
A spike in cases at MU at the start of the last semester helped push Boone County case rates to record levels. New records were set later in the fall during a nationwide surge.
Testing will also be available at the Hearnes Center from Sunday through Jan. 21.
The shuttle schedule for the tests will run in 20-minute intervals from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday and Monday, then from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday.
Students can sign up for the Hearnes Center testing through a portal by entering their MU username and password.