UM System moves classes online for the remainder of the semester

MU and the other three campuses in the University of Missouri System will instruct classes remotely for the remainder of the semester.

Students at all four campuses in the University of Missouri System will take classes remotely for the rest of the spring semester to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The campuses will remain open, including residence halls, dining halls and libraries, a UM System-wide announcement stated. Recreation centers, including MizzouRec, will be closed.

Plans for final exams and commencement ceremonies will be communicated “as decisions are made,” according to the system.

The statement Friday evening came from UM System President Mun Choi and chancellors at MU, Missouri University of Science & Technology, the University of Missouri-St. Louis and the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

The UM System will play a role in addressing and combating the virus — its researchers have “worked with similar viruses for years and are collaborating globally to help fight the growing COVID-19 pandemic,” the announcement said.

Students are allowed to remain on their respective campuses and might chose to do so to take advantage of the resources there. “We expect there will be a significant number of students who will return home,” however, MU spokesperson Christian Basi said.

He said he didn’t know yet whether students who do go home will be able to get back part of what they paid for room and board. “We’ll be discussing it in the coming weeks,” he said.

For now, faculty and staff are expected to continue reporting to work as usual, Basi said.

“We recognize this is an unprecedented, challenging time,” Choi said in a news release. “I’m extremely appreciative of the hard work of our four chancellors and their faculty and staff over the last several weeks.”

The news came at the end of a week of seemingly nonstop uncertainty, closures and cancellations related to the spread of the novel coronavirus.

On Wednesday, MU canceled Thursday and Friday classes and announced that in-person classes will be taught remotely next week. Spring break is the following week. MU also suspended all university-related nonessential travel and canceled all nonessential university events until March 29.

The decisions were made for three main reasons, Basi said this week:

  • Last weekend, a group of MU journalism students and faculty members attended a data journalism conference in New Orleans where another attendee — who was not part of the MU group — tested “presumptive positive” for COVID-19.
  • On Wednesday, the World Health Organization classified COVID-19 as a pandemic, meaning “a worldwide spread of a new disease,” according to the organization’s website.
  • MU has the technological ability to remotely deliver classroom instruction, Basi said.

Meanwhile, MU athletics have been halted — the Southeastern Conference suspended all regular-season play for all sports at SEC schools until April 15. After that, it’s possible that regular seasons could begin again, but Athletic Director Jim Sterk said Friday that the seasons would have to be “substantial.” Earlier this week, the NCAA canceled all winter and spring championships.

All of MU’s study-abroad programs were halted following a global Level 3 health advisory from the U.S. State Department to “reconsider travel abroad.” Most of the more than 100 students affected have returned or are in the process of coming home.

As of Friday, four people in Missouri have tested positive for COVID-19. Gov. Mike Parson declared a state of emergency Friday, announcing $20 million in emergency funding.

The state has tested 94 people for the virus, and no cases have been found of it being transmitted among the community in Missouri, Parson said.

Missouri is among more than 30 states that have declared a state of emergency, in addition to the District of Columbia and the federal government.

The UM System joins more than 100 colleges and universities nationwide that are changing how they teach during a public health crisis.

In Missouri:

  • Stephens College plans to hold classes online through April 10.
  • Columbia College’s more than 30 locations will hold courses online through the end of the semester, and students in residence halls were asked to move out by noon Wednesday.
  • Classes are suspended next week at Moberly Area Community College and will be held remotely at least through April 6.
  • No in-person classes will be held next week at Truman State University in Kirksville.
For more COVID-19 related news, see our section dedicated to COVID-19 updates.
  • Galen Bacharier is a reporter and assistant city editor at the Missourian. He has reported on state government and higher education. Reach him at galenbacharier@gmail.com or on Twitter @galenbacharier.

  • Elizabeth Brixey is a city editor at the Columbia Missourian. She oversees coverage of education. She can be reached at (573) 882-2632 and brixeye@missouri.edu.

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