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Colleges prepare to move to online classes


Universities around mid-Missouri are preparing to transition to online-only classes if the COVID-19 outbreak gets worse.

"We are preparing for the absolute worst but we are hoping for the best," said Christian Basi, a University of Missouri spokesperson.

Numerous schools on the west coast have made the switch to online classes to protect students and staff. Most recently, Stanford University, the University of California, Santa Barbara and the University of Southern California made the move.

"We are preparing for that in the event that we decide we need it but right now we are operating classes as we usually do every day," Basi said.

Columbia College has already made the switch at its Washington location but continues to hold in-person classes at all other locations across the country.

"We announced yesterday that we've moved all of our in-seat classes at our three locations in the state of Washington to interactive virtual courses where faculty members will be visual online and students can chat with them during their designated class time," said Sam Fleury, the senior director for public relations at Columbia College.

Both MU and Columbia College use a program called "Zoom" to house their virtual classes. Professors teach their class through a webcam broadcasting live virtually and students log in and watch as the professor teaches the lesson.

There have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 so far at any Mid-Missouri universities.

"We're definitely aware of all the different colleges and universities that are out there making this change so monitoring each situation possible and making sure we're being proactive," Fleury said. "These decisions are made out of concern for the faculty, staff and students."

A spokesperson from William Woods said in an email to ABC 17 News, "At William Woods, while we continue to closely monitor the public health situation related to coronavirus and any potential impact it could have on our students, faculty and staff, we do not currently have plans to move all our classes online as of yet. However, we are prepared to do so if the situation warrants it."

Each university we spoke with is said to have a 'taskforce' meeting often to monitor the outbreak.

ABC 17 News also reached out to Lincoln University and Stephens College but has not heard back yet.

Boone / Columbia / Columbia College / Education / Health / Jefferson City / Lifestyle / Lincoln University / Missouri / News / University of Missouri

Zach Boetto

Zach Boetto started working with ABC 17 News in June after graduating from California State University-Channel Islands with a degree in organizational communication. He reports weekday evenings and weekend mornings.


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