Dear Mizzou students and families,
Since January, the world has come to a halt because of COVID-19, and our entire Mizzou family has had to pivot in every aspect of our operations while we confront a challenge unprecedented in our lifetimes. Through it all, we have worked hard to ensure that the university’s missions of teaching, research and service thrive.
As we head into summer, we want to give you an update on our planning for the coming school year. We know you are excited to return to campus but also may feel anxious about what that return looks like. We understand your feelings of uncertainty, which is why our planning process is comprehensive and still ongoing. There are many adjustments and considerations that our teams are working through as we shift our view of the pandemic as a crisis to a long-term condition that we will work individually and collectively to manage.
An important part of our planning is the consideration of a potential change to the fall schedule. This scenario would have classes beginning Aug. 12. An option would keep the university open on the Sept. 7 Labor Day holiday. If adopted, this plan would end in-person classwork on Nov. 20, and finals would be given online from Nov. 30-Dec. 14. Please keep in mind that the above scenario is a proposal. We wanted to be sure you were aware of this proposal as you consider your personal plans for the fall.
Universities around the country are making similar changes. These schedule adjustments could potentially cut down on travel during the semester and winter weeks when illnesses are seasonally more common. The MU Faculty Council will consider the proposal this week and, if passed, it would require a recommendation by the president and interim chancellor, and ultimate approval by the University of Missouri Board of Curators.
Above all, our efforts are singularly guided by core underlying principles: to protect the health and education of our students.
We have established a robust planning structure that enables us to prepare for any contingency. Seven work groups — Academics, Research, Student Affairs, Testing and Tracing, Facilities, Athletics and Communications — are working through various scenarios and planning for how we will resume our in-person campus experience with safety as our highest priority and with flexibility in a changing public health environment. As more details are known, we will provide updates of these evolving plans.
Our planning is guided by collaboration with Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services and as well as our own medical experts at MU Health Care.
Other steps we are taking
- We are creating communications, training and other resources that focus on student accountability and safety, including the changes we must collectively make to our education, behavior and campus culture — e.g., social distancing, face coverings, symptom monitoring, among others.
- Campus Facilities personnel are continually deep-cleaning buildings and securing supplies of hand sanitizer.
- With the support of MU Health Care, we are implementing testing and tracing measures to quickly and effectively respond to new diagnoses or exposures. And Residential Life is collaborating with Campus Facilities, Campus Dining and the Dean of Students Office to develop response and care protocols in the event of illness.
- We are increasing staff for building monitoring, cleaning and strictly adhering to room capacity guidelines as stipulated by the state of Missouri and the Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services.
- We are determining new practices for class sizes, scheduling, in-person meetings, building traffic and other stipulations.
- We are providing online training modules to help our faculty enhance their remote teaching skills, should we need to pivot from in-person instruction later in the fall.
In the weeks ahead, we will continue to evolve our recommendations and practices, and communicate these decisions with you.
For all of us, this is a summer of learning. Amidst the upheaval and the sorrow this virus has caused, we have seen how the enduring Tiger spirit remains a beacon of hope. Hope for a future that not only preserves the core missions, values and traditions that distinguish Mizzou — but one that also enables them to thrive. Shepherded by the hearts and hands of our entire Mizzou family, we are committed to shaping this hope into our new reality.
Mun Y. Choi, Ph.D.
President, UM System and Interim Chancellor, University of Missouri
Latha Ramchand, Ph.D.
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, University of Missouri
Bill Stackman, Ph.D.
Vice Provost for Student Affairs, University of Missouri