MU was using less than half of quarantine housing on campus and about three-fourths of contracted off-campus hotel rooms as of Tuesday, MU spokesperson Christian Basi said.

Quarantine housing is only for students who live on campus and test positive for COVID-19 or have had close contact with someone who has the virus. As of Tuesday, 93 students were in isolation — meaning they tested positive — and 16 were in quarantine, meaning they had close contact.

Sections of residence halls and hotel rooms in town are being used. Basi said the number of rooms being used changes based on need.

“It changes weekly and sometimes daily,” he said.

The number of active cases among students has declined each of the past two days, down by 34 since Tuesday to 624 Thursday. MU’s COVID tracker showed four active cases among faculty and 12 cases among staff, including one from the UM system, which is based in Columbia.

Basi said off-campus students are viewed as regular members of the community and should quarantine in their homes. Some students go to their hometowns to recover, he said.

Whether they live on or off campus, MU students who need assistance may seek out the Care Team, which provides one-on-one support in a range of areas including mental and physical health, personal and family emergencies and financial issues. The Care Team is charged with reaching out to all students affected by COVID-19, Basi said.

During a meeting Tuesday of the Columbia City Council, Health Director Stephanie Browning was asked whether students who live off campus were eligible for quarantine housing through MU.

“Students on campus have that opportunity for isolation and quarantine at MU-provided spaces, but students off campus do not,” Browning responded. “That would be beneficial to have a place they could be safely.”

Student quarantine housing is an issue all over the country. The New York Times reported Wednesday that several universities face problems with quarantining students in a timely way and providing them with adequate supplies. Students were sharing their quarantine experiences on social media, including about food and the condition of quarantine rooms.

Some MU students in quarantine housing took to social media to complain about the food they were getting and how long it took to get it. Basi said such complaints were being addressed.

“We have addressed the issues that we became aware of over the weekend,” Basi said, “and we also adjusted our processes related to delivery of food so that those types of delays should never happen again.”

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  • I am a graduate Education Reporter, Fall 2020. I am studying Magazine Writing. Please reach me at pskpg@umsystem.edu or in the newsroom at 882-5700

  • Elizabeth Brixey is the Columbia Missourian's education editor and an associate professor in the Missouri School of Journalism. She can be reached at (573) 882-2632 and brixeye@missouri.edu.

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