MU is exploring opening a walk-up COVID-19 testing site and requiring students to self-report if they test positive, campus leaders said Wednesday.

In the second of two virtual town halls addressing MU’s fall reopening plans, administrators addressed questions from students and parents regarding housing, transportation, campus services and programs and safety procedures.

The university is looking into setting up a walk-up site to allow easier testing access for students without transportation, said Scott Henderson, assistant director for medical services at MU Health Care.

MU will begin working out details for the site — which would be on campus or nearby — next week.

MU is also “exploring the possibility” of mandating that students inform the university when they test positive for the virus, Henderson said.

During Tuesday’s town hall with faculty and staff, administrators said MU would not require students to self-report positive cases, as it is private health information.

All positive tests will be reported by students’ health providers to the Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services Department, where a case investigation and contact tracing will begin.

At this time, MU is not requiring students to be tested prior to arriving on campus, Henderson said.

Students who have previously tested positive and have recovered are not required to present documentation of that fact upon arrival to campus, he said.

The university is encouraging consistent symptom monitoring and personal responsibility in containing the spread of the virus, an approach UM System President and Interim MU Chancellor Mun Choi emphasized in both town halls.

“Our own individual actions can affect and, at times, can diminish the (campus) experience if we don’t take these precautions seriously,” Choi said Wednesday.

Tuition will remain unchanged for online courses this semester, Choi said, citing MU’s “individualized courses with high-quality faculty teaching them.”

The university also incurred costs from opening additional class sections, buying PPE and instituting other measures for the fall.

Several prominent campus buildings and services will reopen in August, albeit with additional health and safety precautions:

  • MizzouRec will reopen at the end of August, MU Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Bill Stackman said, with normal hours, frequent disinfection practices and a reduced capacity.
  • Ellis Library will be open starting Aug. 17, MU Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies Jim Spain said. It will not be open 24 hours a day to allow for cleaning, and seating will be rearranged to allow for social distancing.
  • The Student Success Center will also reopen with regular business hours, Spain said, and all offices will be staffed beginning Aug. 3. In-person or remote operations will depend on the needs of students who set up appointments with the center.

Updates on the operations, hours and details of these and other campus buildings and programs will be provided on their respective websites and on MU’s Show Me Renewal page.

Students can elect to move home rather than quarantine upon testing positive, Henderson said, as long as they are able to do so safely and will retain sufficient academic resources while at home.

Students who remain on campus and test positive will move to isolation housing on campus, outlined in MU’s Show Me Renewal Plan.

The location of that housing will not be released publicly, Henderson said, to protect the privacy of those staying in it, but spaces have been identified and made available.

For transportation to and from campus, city shuttles and buses run by apartment complexes will employ similar thorough disinfecting, distancing and mask requirements, MU Vice Chancellor for Operations Gary Ward said.

MU will follow Columbia’s city ordinance mandating mask use in public areas, Choi said, including classrooms.

Students who have medical issues preventing mask usage will be asked to sit in a separate section of the classroom, still in view of the instructor, to protect themselves and other students from transmission of the virus.

Lectures and class discussions will be recorded, Spain said.

Instructors will work with students to figure out the best possible plan should they miss in-person class because of illness.

For more COVID-19 related news, see our section dedicated to COVID-19 updates.
  • Galen Bacharier is an assistant city editor at the Missourian. He has reported on higher education, state government and breaking news. Reach him at galenbacharier@gmail.com or on Twitter @galenbacharier.

  • As senior editor of the Missourian, Fred Anklam manages general assignment reporters. He can be reached at anklamf@missouri.edu or in the newsroom at 573-882-5720.

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