MU will continue in-person learning as things stand, Chancellor and UM System President Mun Choi said Thursday.

“The way that things are going now, as long as we can maintain the restrictions that we have, I believe without another big surge that we will be able to continue,” he told the UM System Board of Curators.

Choi told the board there has been 100% compliance system-wide in wearing masks and social distancing in classrooms. He also said there has been no known in-class transmission of COVID-19 at MU.

(On Friday, MU spokesperson Christian Basi said the campus has not received any reports of non-compliance nor have contact tracers identified any classroom as a place where a person could have spread the virus or caught it.)

The chancellors at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and Missouri University of Science & Technology said the same about their campuses. As of noon Thursday, MU’s tracker showed 95 active student cases. This was an 86% decrease from the peak of 683 active student cases Sept. 5.

“The declines that we’re seeing here at Mizzou are not unlike what other universities are seeing,” Choi said at a news conference after the meeting. “I think it’s partly due to more people taking it seriously, that this is a pandemic and can be mitigated by proper social distancing and masking.”

Choi said none of MU’s cases has required hospitalization. Chancellors from the other three campuses did not explicitly report any hospitalizations when presenting their respective COVID-19 data to the curators.

During the news conference, Choi and board Chairperson Julia Brncic explained the rationale behind MU’s decision not to offer widespread COVID-19 tests for asymptomatic students.

“There is a misunderstanding that we are limiting the number of tests so we can reduce the number of cases,” Choi said. “That is absolutely not true.”

Choi explained why the two major testing facilities require medical referrals.

“Once a person has been exposed to another person who has tested positive, getting a test after that encounter is going to reveal that the person is negative, but it doesn’t mean that they don’t have what is going to develop into COVID six to seven days later,” Choi said.

Brncic said mass asymptomatic testing for college students can give a false sense of confidence and decrease compliance with COVID safety practices.

As of Thursday, 542 student cases of COVID-19 violations had been referred to the Office of Accountability and Support, Basi said at the news conference.

These numbers represent the total referrals since Aug. 15. This does not mean 542 students, as some may have been involved in more than one incident.

At the board meeting, Curator Maurice Graham presented the Health Committee’s recommendation to consolidate the Women’s and Children’s Hospital with the main MU Health Care hospital complex on the south end of campus. Further details will be presented to curators in November.

The board approved amendments to the system’s Collected Rules and Regulations about the naming of UM buildings, exterior areas, landmarks and interior spaces. These amendments clarified the existing policy that board approval is necessary for any name changes or removal of university landmarks. The board unanimously voted to approve several key action items from subcommittees, notably:

  • Naming the MU Center for Race, Citizenship and Justice after former Deputy Chancellor and UM System Interim President Michael Middleton. The center’s creation was approved at the campus level earlier this week. 
  • Establishing two master’s degree programs, in defense and strategic studies at MU and in supply chain analytics at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
  • Engaging the accounting company BKD LLP as independent auditor for the UM System through the fiscal year ending June 30, 2021.
  • Education reporter, fall 2020. I am a first year graduate student studying magazine writing journalism. Reach me at hgallant@mail.missouri.edu or on Twitter @GallantHannah.

  • Fall 2020 Education Reporter Studying Investigative Journalism Reach me at rsandurkar@mail.missouri.edu, in the newsroom at (573) 882-5700 or on Twitter @rsandurkar731

  • 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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