COLUMBIA, Mo. – College students and their parents are wondering what the fall semester will look like after being away from the classroom for months due to the pandemic.
Students and teachers at the University of Missouri will return to campus in August, but places like the cafeteria, residence halls, and classrooms will look different.
Mizzou’s Director of Media Relations Christian Basi said students will be required to wear masks and social distance.
“As of right now, parents and students should be planning for a full in-person semester,” Basi said. “Students will be required to wear face masks in class.”
The City of Columbia passed an ordinance Monday requiring everyone to wear a mask while in public. Basi said the university will be following this requirement.
“The virus does not recognize boundaries by crossing the street,” Basi said. “We are a large part of the City of Columbia and community of Columbia.”
Basi said the university is doing everything they can to keep people safe. If a student forgets his or her mask, the university has a limited number available.
“We have hand sanitizing stations throughout campus,” Basi said.
He said classes will be smaller, making it easier to social distance.
“Classrooms will likely not hold as many people as they once did,” Basi said. “What we may do, is if the class meets three times a week, we may tell a third of the students you come Monday and on Wednesday and Friday you get to watch virtually.”
The university is also asking professors and teachers if they are comfortable to teach in-person this semester.
“We are asking if they have an existing health condition,” Basi said. “If they do, let’s see if we can have someone else teach that particular class in-person or is there a remote component the professor can continue to do.”
Students can also expect to eat and dine farther apart.
“They will be allowed to dine in the facility but tables will be six feet apart,” Basi said. “Students will have to go through a line and served individually. There will be a lot of individually wrapped items.”
Basi said residence halls will look like normal. Students will still have roommates, but community bathrooms will now be cleaned twice a day and students in suite-style rooms are expected to clean their own.
“They will be given the appropriate supplies, but we want to limit the amount of people that are in that suite area,” Basi said.
Move-in for students will also be different this year. Each student will be given 90 minutes to move into their room. Only two other people will be allowed to help the student.
“We are trying to limit the number of people in the residence halls at any given time,” Basi said.
Basi said the university is prepared if a student contracts the virus.
“We have isolation areas set up for students who might test positive,’ Basi said. “We have several rooms where students can be isolated if they don’t have another place to go.”
Basi said the Student Health Center at Mizzou is offering COVID-19 tests.
“Make sure you have a mask, make sure you have hand sanitizer, make sure you have appropriate cleaning supplies for your own personal materials,” Basi said.
Just like many other businesses and universities, COVID-19 left its mark on Mizzou’s budget, leaving 150 people laid off.
“We have furloughed more than 3,000 and have reduced the salary of more than 2,000 people,” Basi said. “It’s been difficult.”
He said Mizzou is waiting until October to decide if students will return after Thanksgiving or if finals will be online. That’s also when the administration will make a decision about December graduation.
“We are certainly prepared for it to be a full-year thing,” Basi said. “Right now we are hoping it’s a one-semester situation.”
Basi said Mizzou’s freshman enrollment is up nearly 2 percent in spite of the pandemic.
He also said the new federal law making international students return to their home country if classes are online does not apply to Mizzou because the university is hosting in-person classes.