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MU will not require coronavirus tests for students after spring break


The University of Missouri says it will not be able to test all students living on campus after they return from spring break because of time limitations.

MU required students living on campus to test negative at the beginning of the semester.

MU spokesman Christian Basi said MU was able to do the mass testing at the start of the spring semester because of the notice and several weeks it had to finish that process.

"We had several thousand tests that were not just given out here on campus but more than half of students were actually tested at their home," Basi said.

Basi said the arrival testing in January was only required for students who were living on campus. MU encouraged all students to take a test no matter where they were living.

MU asked students in January to take a test within three to four days of coming to campus. Basi said students typically arrived in Columbia seven to 10 days before the spring semester giving the university plenty of time to get them tested.

"The timing with spring break is not the same," Basi said.

Basi used the example of if a student who was exposed on a Thursday or Friday during spring break and given a test before returning to classes on a Saturday or Sunday. Health experts have said that it would be too soon to tell whether that person is infected with coronavirus and the test could result in a false negative.

Other factors also played into the decision. Basi said few students at the university who currently have the virus.

MU reported eight active student cases Wednesday. Basi said about 27,000 MU students live in Columbia. The university's have cases have steadily declined since last fall.

MU journalism professor Amy Simons said she is comfortable coming back after spring break because of the low number of cases on campus. She said there was also a large number of students at the beginning of the semester who were on campus without tests.

Increasing numbers of vaccinated people and upcoming eligibility for staff and students a factor. Basi said many students have started to look for vaccine appointments as they will become eligible under Phase 3 on April 9.

Simons said the vaccine has made people more confident that the end of the pandemic is on the horizon. Many professors have been eligible since March 15.

The university continues to encourage students not to travel during break and there are planned activities on campus during the week. The Student Rec Center and dining services will be open.

"If students do travel, we are asking them to continue to do what you've been doing on campus. Mask up, social distance, and monitor your symptoms," Basi said. If students are showing symptoms, Basi said they should contact their primary care provider immediately.

Simons said the university has spent so much time practicing social distancing and mask-wearing that they are a part of daily routines and people have mastered those extra layers of protection.

Basi said the surrounding public school districts also have spring breaks happening throughout March meaning the community as a whole needs to continue to take precautions against the virus.

Gains in coronavirus case levels and vaccination numbers have prompted the university to tell all its employees to return to campus on May 17.

Simons said she has been on campus two to three days throughout the week, but after spring break she will be there as much as she was before the pandemic.

"This is not just about faculty, it is about everyone on campus," Basi said. Basi said MU has worked to slowly populate the campus over the past several months and waited until after the semester so there will be fewer people on campus.

Basi there is understanding that there will be some exceptions for people who feel unsafe in returning, but the university wants everyone back as soon as they are comfortable.

Article Topic Follows: University of Missouri

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Chanel Porter

Chanel joined ABC 17 News in January 2021 after graduating from Penn State University. She enjoys traveling and a daily iced coffee.


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