Show Me Renewal Students & Families Town Hall Transcript
July 22, 2020
SPAIN: Good afternoon and welcome to today’s Show Me Renewal Town Hall for students and their parents. Thank you so much for joining us today. My name is Emily Spain, I’ll be serving as the moderator today. I’m a proud MU alum and KOMU 8 evening anchor. So we’ve pulled together a lot of university leaders this afternoon to answer all of your questions. And we’re going to take a look at the university’s plans for this upcoming fall semester. We’ve got hundreds of questions, around 300 questions have already been submitted, and we will also take additional live questions throughout today’s event. To submit your questions, please see the link to submit questions on the event page, where you are currently viewing today’s Town Hall. I will read those questions and direct them to the correct person throughout this Town Hall. And if you miss any of it, we’ll be posting the full thing on the town hall page at the president.missouri.edu webpage. Before we begin, I’d like to invite President and Interim Chancellor, Mun Choi, to say a few words.
CHOI: Thank you. Thank you very much, Emily. And well, good afternoon. It’s very exciting for us to join you today through this virtual Town Hall And all of us who are on this Zoom call can’t wait to welcome you to campus. But we want to do that in a way that is safe, that is safe for all of our constituents, including students, faculty, and staff. And that plan is something that we call Show Me Renewal and it is the product of many months of work by about 140 of our top administrators, faculty, and medical personnel. And at the heart of this plan is our commitment for the health and safety and wellbeing of all of our constituents. Now, we need to do this in a way that actually preserves, preserves our ability to continue with in person operation. And all of the medical procedures that we have placed into this Show Me Renewal has been guided by the Boone County Public Health & Human Services, the CDC, and the excellent doctors and medical personnel in our student health center, as well as MU Health Care. The key to this plan is to find ways to educate and train all of our constituents to reduce the ability for community transmission. And you’ll see that this plan is flexible, so that we can pivot if situations change and the website below has all of the details that will be updated on a daily basis. As part of the planning for Show Me Renewal, we had seven task forces ranging from the academic side, all the way to athletics. And the most important of this is that effective communication of all of the recommendations that are provided by these teams. The key expectations for all of our constituents is to do what is right for you, but also the community. And it’s obviously, maintaining at least six feet of social distance, wherever you can, wearing face coverings, as well as washing your hands and monitoring your symptoms on a daily basis. And we want all of our constituents to be able to practice these precautions, whether they’re on campus or off campus. And many of us want a very healthy and vibrant in campus experience, but our own individual actions can affect and at times can diminish that experience, if we don’t take these precautions seriously. Our university is blessed to have a fantastic medical health center with 650 physicians, 1300 nurses. And at the peak of the pandemic here in Boone County, we’re able to convert 400 beds for COVID patients. Luckily, because of the social distancing, use of mask, and other precautions, the highest number of beds that were used at any one time was 10. And we want to keep it that way when students, faculty, and staff come back to the campus. We’ll also be ready by having two lane mobile drive-through testing facilities. And with results that can be made available within 24 hours, we will be able to provide a level of assurance as well as the rapid ability to contact trace. And as you can see in this slide, by September with the college of vet med bringing their diagnostics lab online, we will be able to do 3000 tests per day. So in terms of face covering, face covering is a safety requirement, and we will be following the rules that have been put in place by the city of Columbia. So, all stakeholders are expected to wear a face covering when they’re inside in buildings. Now, there are some exceptions if for medical reasons or other reasons, including being in a private office and so forth, there are exceptions for those cases. Now, in a classroom, as you can see in this photo, students are spaced six feet apart, and they’re aware wearing face masks. And the instructor is wearing a face shield and the instructor will be at least six feet away from the nearest student. And that way students who will need to read lips to understand instructor can have their learning as rich as possible. And this is what our lecture hall would look like. Normally, this time next, last year, it would have been full of students, but going forward, we’re going to ensure that there are social distancing, as well as wearing a face mask to reduce community transmission. And common areas, whether they’re in libraries or residence halls or in buildings, we’ll also have socially distant mechanisms. And as you can see on that couch, there are shrink wraps to avoid having multiple students sit next to each other, violating our six-foot social distancing policy. And this shows the student center when students come back, there will be gatherings like this, but once again, with the proper social distancing. And this is something that I cannot emphasize enough. We are all very excited about the campus experience in the fall, but it’s really incumbent upon all of us to follow the rules, so that we can continue with that in person operation during the fall. With that, let me now turn it over to the next speaker.
RAMCHAND: Thank you, President Choi. This is Latha Ramchard. I serve as Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost. And it is a pleasure to have you all participate in this Town Hall. And we look forward, we really look forward to having you back on our beautiful campus. As the chancellor pointed out, we have been working on a plan for several months now, sometime in March, we stood up an academic operations team that has representatives from every college and unit on campus to help us prepare for the fall semester. Some of the many issues we have worked on, and I’d like to highlight three of them. The plan allows us to make sure that our classroom spaces are as safe as possible, that they follow social distancing norms and protocols. It also allows us to address in the best possible way and allow for those essential learning opportunities that are possible only in small classes like labs, like internships, like studio experiences. So, it preserves the ability for us to offer these rich experiences while also maintaining social distancing protocols. And finally, we have worked really hard to provide robust resources for faculty, so they can develop quality online courses and prepare for the fall during the summer. We’ve also been working actively to help faculty prepare for communicating with the students in their courses about what the semester will look like because it’s going to be different. And the key is to maintain flexibility and to be agile. So, for instance, communications about what will the classroom space look like? It will be different. Let’s be prepared for that. How will attendance policies work? How might exams be different? How might assessments be different and how do students communicate with their instructors if they if they become indisposed, if they have a concern? So, all these are being worked on by faculty so that when our students are back, they are able to benefit from the rich learning experience while also feeling safe on campus. As we revised the course schedule in order to maintain social distancing guidelines, we also held firm to certain principles that we used as guiding principles. For instance, we tried our very best not to disrupt the days and times that courses were taught. In other words, to keep to the schedule as much we can. In online courses, we tried to maximize the amount of synchronous learning while also being mindful that asynchronous learning allows more students and perhaps is more flexible for some of our students. So how do we preserve both options? Many large classes had to go online because of space constraints or were offered or will be offered in blended format because there was not enough space to ensure that social distancing protocols were met. At the same time, we ensured that most labs, studio, and discussion classes could be held in person. In order to support students transitioning to college for the first time, who are coming on a campus for the first time, we prioritized first time college students having some in person experiences, so they benefit from those. While many large classes moved online, we tried to identify the possibility for smaller breakout groups of the large course that could meet in person like a lab section or a discussion session. When appropriate rooms were not available for all our in-person classes. We asked faculty to offer these courses in a blended format, so that students could cycle through them much like a block schedule in high school, attending in person and attending remotely. Again, these were some of the guiding principles we used, but the bottom line is that we want to be flexible and we want to be agile should we have to change the modality in which we teach. I am truly appreciative to our community, our faculty, our staff, everyone who worked and spent enormous amounts of time and continue to do so on this plan and also really appreciate their flexibility and resilience as we work through and navigate these unchartered waters. It is definitely going to be interesting, but it’s going to be a tremendous learning experience. We’re all in this together, we really are. And our success is going to depend on all the adjustments we make and how we engage with each other. So we protect ourselves as well as respect the health and safety of those we call friends and colleagues. With that, I’d like to introduce our Missouri student association, President Anthony Tretter, and our graduate and professional council vice-president, Jesse Wyatt. Anthony.
TRETTER: Thank you, Provost Ramchand and good afternoon, everyone. My name is Anthony Tretter and I represent the Missouri Students Association as the undergraduate student body president here at Mizzou. The Show Me renewal plan plays an important role in ensuring that students and faculty alike can return to campus in a safe manner. The Missouri Students Association representing the undergraduate student body will continue to work with university staff, faculty, and administration to ensure that concerns from students are addressed efficiently and that accommodations are provided for those who require them. The COVID-19 pandemic presents unique challenges that none of us have faced before in an academic setting. Over the past few weeks, my fellow student leaders, and I have offered feedback on the plans for returning to campus and ensuring that student health and wellbeing continues to remain a top priority. I look forward to seeing the tiger family return in August and welcoming new and familiar faces alike back to our campus. This semester may look different, but I know that working together as one university, we will see through these challenges together. Thank you for your commitment to Mizzou.
WYATT: Well, I’m Jessie Wyatt. I’m the Graduate Professional Council vice president. And so, this is the student government for graduate professional students here at the university of Missouri. Throughout these trying times, the GPC executive board has been involved in several of the reopening committees to help ensure that all students are being advocated for, for health and safety. We will continue to advocate for graduate professional students, as well as for all students along with MSA. We will continue to partner with various departments and programs on campus to help educate and promote student health and wellbeing. GPC itself has made great strides to change our own programming in going digital in most regards, retooling our existing outreach programs and ideally hoping to be a role model for other student organizations on campus. So, behaving in proper manner to ensure social distancing is maintained, wearing face masks, and compliant with all local, state, and federal guidelines. We are dedicated to supporting student health in Missouri, health and wellness as well as work with university administration and various student relations to navigate through these troubling times. I like to remember that Missouri is the show me state. And so, I hope in that spirit that we can show everyone and the whole world why we’re proud to be Mizzou tigers, and how we will overcome these hardships through press events and a commitment to each other. Thank you.
SPAIN: Jesse, thank you very much. I’d like to now introduce our panelists that are joining us today. Beth Chancellor, Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer. Maurice Gipson, Vice Chancellor for Inclusion, Diversity and Equity. Jenny Hart, Vice Provost for Graduate Studies and Dean of the Graduate School. Scott Henderson, Director of Student Health Center. Kim Humphrey, The Vice Provost for Enrollment Management. Mark Macintosh, Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development. Jim Spain, and my dad, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies and eLearning. Don’t worry, rest of the panelists, I’ll send all the hard questions his way. Sound good? Bill Stackman, Vice chancellor for Student Affairs. Jim Sterk, Director of Intercollegiate Athletics. Gary Ward, Vice Chancellor for Operations and chief operating officer. Steve Whitt, senior associate Dean for Clinical Affairs and Chief Medical officer for the University of Missouri Hospital. Thank you all so much for giving us your time this afternoon. The first question will be for President Choi and President Choi, his one comes from a parent, “Will there be a tuition discount for online classes?”
CHOI: So, the affordability of the education that we provide is always paramount for the leaders at the university. And we thought about this very carefully, but in the end, the tuition will be the same. There will be no discount. And the reason for that is that unlike universities that have massively open online courses, our courses are individualized with small sections, with our high-quality faculty members teaching them. In fact, in preparation for this upcoming semester, we even had to open up additional sections, so that we have a safer environment in which there are less students in the class, which resulted in additional costs to the university. In addition to the PPE, as well as the contact tracers and all of the staffing that’s needed to ensure a safe learning environment, our costs have actually gone up, we decided not to pass on those costs to the students. And I am confident that the students who take the courses will enjoy, whether it’s in person, blended, or online, the high-quality education that we provide. Thank you.
SPAIN: Thank you, President Choi. Thank you so much. The next question is for Provost Ramchand. And Provost, this one is from a student, “If cases are rising, can I switch from in person classes to remote learning in the middle of the semester and vice versa.”
RAMCHAND: Thank you, Emily. So as we shared before, our classes are being structured in face to face, fully online, or blended format, but once a student is enrolled in a certain section, the expectation will be that the student will participate in the course based on how it is being delivered. So, the ability to switch will be limited and will be based on a case by case exception if the student needs accommodation. Now, this could be something they need from the disability center. And we encourage students to meet with representatives from the center, if they feel they might qualify for such an accommodation. if they become indisposed or they have other needs that come up suddenly through the middle of the semester, of course, the faculty members will work with them to see how best to help them through the course. As detailed in the plan, in the Show Me Renewal plan, we are implementing a number of measures to ensure that our face to face courses are as safe as we can make them. And if students are hesitant about spending a significant amount of time in the classroom, we encourage them to register for as many online or blended courses as their schedule allows. On the other hand, if their preference is to do face to face, that’s an option as well.
SPAIN: Okay, Provost, thank you so much. This next question is for Scott Henderson and this one comes from a parent, “Scott, how many COVID-19 tests does the Mizzou Health Center have on hand or will have ready at the start of the year? Should students get tested before the start of the school year?” Scott.
HENDERSON: At this time, we’re not asking for students to be tested before the start of the school year. The student health center works in conjunction with MU Health Care for our testing. So we have the full resources that President Choi described earlier with that potential capability of doing upwards of 3000 tests per day.
SPAIN: Okay, thank you. This next question is also from a parent and it is for Bill Stackman. “Bill, what are the details about keeping students safe in the residential halls?”
STACKMAN: So, we have the expectation that again, they will wear a mask in common spaces and when they are in private spaces, they are able to do what they need to do, just be respectful of their roommates. With the start of the semester, they will not be permitted to have guests, that is a change, but again, we want to really ensure that the environment is safe. There will also be additional cleaning throughout the day.
SPAIN: Okay, thank you. This next question also from a parent is for Jim Spain, “Will class lectures be recorded, and will there be leniency on due dates for coursework, tests, et cetera?”
SPAIN: Thank you. And that’s an important question and we will be recording lectures and the discussions that happen in the classroom. We’ve asked our faculty to work with our students, giving the very different educational learning situation that we’ll have in the fall and maintain flexibility in providing support and opportunities for our students to be successful. The students need to be proactive and work with their faculty to go ahead and work out any concerns or situations that they may face, challenges that they may face. And the campus, our faculty, or our graduate students will do our very best in supporting students to provide them with an opportunity to be successful.
SPAIN: Okay, thank you. Another question from a parent. This one is for Kim Humphrey. “Kim, if a student decides to take a gap semester, how would that impact any Mizzou scholarships?
HUMPHREY: Thank you, Emily for that question. And we will work with each student individually. It depends on whether they enroll at another institution or not. If they truly take a gap year and don’t enroll, we will honor the scholarship next year. Otherwise, they would be eligible for transfer scholarships that we have as they enrolled in the previous and subsequent year.
SPAIN: Okay, thanks Kim. This next question will go back to Dr Spain, another one for you, “Will the library and tutoring centers be open this fall?”
SPAIN: The university library is central and key to our students’ experience, both our undergraduates and our graduates, especially on the comprehensive research-intensive AAU university like Mizzou. So, it’s important that the library is open, and it will be open. The library is scheduled to open on August, the 17th. It will not be open 24 hours a day, but Deb Ward and her great team in the libraries is doing important work to make the library available to our students. Again, the space will be rearranged to maintain social distance, and we’ll be closing, not open over 24 hours because we have to do that important work of cleaning and disinfecting to make sure we maintain the safe environment in the libraries. The student success center will be open eight to five normal business hours. All of the offices in the student success center will be open and staffed starting on August the third. Much of our staff will actually be working remotely and we’ll still be doing a lot of our meetings with students virtually. But if a student has a concern or question, they can go to the offices located in the success center and someone will be there to help them and to address their concerns. Our tutoring will continue to be mostly virtual, including our online writery, which continues to be a great and important asset for our students. Dr. Phil Deming and his team in the learning center are doing really important work. We’ll be posting updates and specific details to those specific office websites. We’ll also be including undergraduates studies.missouri.edu, and our Show Me Renewal website as well to try and provide that information to students and its many different outlets and in places on our websites as possible. And certainly, if students have questions or concerns, I hope they’ll reach out to my office so that we can provide them with assistance and support.
SPAIN: Okay, thank you. There’s another question from a parent. This one is for Scott Henderson. “Scott, it was mentioned that there will be driving locations to be tested for COVID-19. What about walk-in for those who don’t have a car on campus?”
HENDERSON: Good question. This is something that we have recognized and in feel that not always will drive-in be an option. So currently, we at the university are exploring our options on identifying a walk-up testing location, and we hope in the coming week or so to have that identified, and then we can begin working on logistics to make that happen, so students have easy access to testing, hopefully right on campus.
E SPAIN: Great. And Scott, well, I’ve got you another question for you, “Who pays for students to be tested? Are tests recorded and used for research?” And that also comes from a parent.
HENDERSON: Okay, let’s go back to the second part of the question. The data for testing is collected as part of a public health requirement and is reported to the state, but that is not, there’s no identified information regarding cases that would be used in research. It’s my understanding that there may be group data, collaborative data that would look at number of cases on the campus as such. Regarding the payment questioned, currently testing is if you don’t have insurance, testing is covered and that would apply to any one of us, students, parents, general public, if you don’t have resources to pay for testing via your insurance, that testing is covered. It’s obviously subject to change, but that’s where we stand as of today.
SPAIN: Okay, Scott, thank you so much. This next question is for Beth Chancellor, from a parent, “What computer support is still available for students who want to stay home and are taking all of their classes remotely?” Beth.
CHANCELLOR: If so, for students that are not on campus, we have made last semester and we intend to continue this semester, this upcoming semester and into the foreseeable future offering software that students would normally have access to available remotely. Their instructions on the IT division for the university for MU is division of it, abbreviated doit, so our website is doit.missouri.edu, and you can find those resources on that website. Our help desk will be staffed as normal, so you can call the help desk if you can’t find the resources that you need at 573-882-5000. There’s also a website on the eLearning pages called keeplearning.umsystem.edu, that also provides resources for students who are not physically on campus.
SPAIN: Okay, thanks Beth. This next question comes from a student and it is for Dr. McIntosh. “What safety precautions are in place for lab classes and other research labs?”
-MCINTOSH: Thank you, Emily. And thank you to the student for this important question. Laboratory classes will follow the same safety and health guidelines as our teaching classrooms, that is physical distancing, students wearing face coverings and personal health monitoring capabilities. And these guidelines are outlined on page 11 of the Show Me Renewal plan. Specific criteria are also in place for the use and disinfection of shared equipment in laboratory classrooms. So now, there are some laboratory and studio classes that may require a higher level of face protection. And in those particular cases, academic units will provide that higher level of protection. In the research laboratories, again, the same guidelines for us, physical distancing, and face coverings, and personal health monitoring will be in place, except in those very specific laboratories where a much higher level of personal protective equipment is required by the nature of the experiments themselves. And again, that personal PPE will be provided by the research laboratory itself. And these things are in the research laboratories are referenced in our research and creative activities research plan, which is also on the web.
SPAIN: Okay, Dr. McIntosh, thank you very much. Next question is for Provost Ramchand, and this one comes from a parent. “You said you tried to keep lab classes in person. My student is enrolled in both anatomy and physiology labs. Both are online. Why?”
RAMCHAND: That are a great question and thank you, Emily. So, we did our best to make sure that the labs that have to be held in person are held in person. If the lab learning could be provided online and it was determined by the instructor that, that was the best modality, given the size of the lab, given the number of students, then it was moved to being an online lab. I would encourage the parent and the student to work with the instructor, with the department chair to see if there are other options for that same lab that they would like to opt into. But again, that is not going to be the case for all labs because of physical constraints.
SPAIN: Okay, thank you, Provost. This next question is for Gary Ward and this one comes from a parent. “Gary, how will food be handled, provided in the Mizzou facilities specifically for campus dining?”
WARD: Thank you, Emily. That’s a great question. So, first off there will be no buffets within any of our dining facilities. All of our dining facilities will have queued up lines, you saw the pictures earlier, the way we spread tables around, all the tables will be spread out. If students decide to come in and eat, we will have takeout for all of our dining facilities. And we also make sure that all of our people are wearing PPE, gloves, mask, and they will also be doing continue cleaning and disinfecting of the space.
SPAIN: Okay, Gary, thank you. This next question is for Steve Whitt. This one comes from a parent. “Do you need a doctor’s order to be tested or can you self-refer yourself?”
WHITT: That varies. Currently, we have a plentiful lab tests, so walk-ups are welcome, or drive-ups as the case may be, are welcome. If at any time we run into testing issues, anything a doctor orders will be performed.
SPAIN: Okay, thank you. This next question comes from a student and it is for Kim Humphrey, “Kim, if students are sent home due to COVID, how will gaining residency work?”
HUMPHREY: That’s a great question, Emily. We’re going to continue to monitor this and evaluate as it goes on, like we did in the spring. And we will continue to work with all of our students to be as flexible as we can and provide alternatives and the best information we can to help them. Each student’s situation with will be just a little bit different, so I encourage them to reach out to the residency staff and the university registrar’s office and ask those questions, so they can talk about their particular situation, but we will continue to be flexible and work with our students.
SPAIN: Okay, Kim, thank you. This next question, either Steve Whitt or Scott Henderson, you both can chime in on this one if you’d like. It comes from a parent, “Our student tested positive for COVID in July and has since recovered. Do you need documentation of this?”
HENDERSON: At this time, we do not require that type of documentation from a past infection.
SPAIN: Okay, simple enough. Thank you, Scott. The next question goes to Dr. Henderson or Scott, right back to you. “Will students be notified if a classmate tests positive? If so, how will they be notified?”
HENDERSON: Great question. This question touches on the case investigation and contact tracing process that we’re going to undertake here at the university as part of our ways to keep the campus safe. At this time, if a student test positive, they are not currently required to notify the university that they have tested positive. We are however, exploring the possibility of making this a requirement that the students who test positive provide us with this information that will better able us to provide assistance and support to that student, so they get the necessary resources. When someone has a COVID test, it is the responsibility of the testing facility to report that result back to the ordering provider, to the patient, into the public health department if it’s a positive result. That triggers the contact tracing process, in case investigation, a case investigator will reach out to that positive student and collect important information such as who are their close contacts. And in turn that information of close contacts will be passed on to a contact tracer who will reach out to those contacts who have been in close contact with that case, meaning within that six feet, without a mask on. So that person can be appropriately educated on what next steps they have to do in terms of keeping themselves safe and keeping the campus safe. Right now, obviously, students aren’t required, as I said to notify instructors of that, but they are encouraged just as they would be with any illness to reach out to their instructors, so that they’re aware there will be an absence, and this is going to allow that instructor and that student to work on how the student can keep up with their classroom work.
SPAIN: Okay, Dr. Henderson, thank you very much. The next question is from a parent and it goes to Gary Ward. “Gary, what are the cleaning methods for classrooms in between classes as well as common areas?”
WARD: Thank you, Emily. So, there’s a whole lot of cleaning going on as we speak. All spaces on the campus will be disinfected and cleaned. Every morning before we start the Workday, we also clean and disinfect every single one of our classrooms. We will disinfect and clean every single bit of our common area spaces throughout today. Between classes, we will be getting into those classrooms and cleaning them again and disinfecting them again. We also have sanitizer at the entrances to all of our buildings. We will have disinfectant wipes within the classrooms and throughout the facilities. And that will go on just every single day, periodically, every couple of hours.
E SPAIN: Okay, Gary, thank you. And while I’ve got you, this is another question for both you and Beth Chancellor can also chime in on this one. It’s from a parent and it reads, “My daughter’s schedule shows she has 10 minutes to get from an in-person class back to her dorm, which is a 15 minute walk, for an online class. Then she has 10 minutes to get to her next in- person class. Are other buildings going to be open and appropriate Wi-Fi available on campus in which students can do their online courses?”
WARD: Okay, I’ll take that for the start, Beth. That’s a great question. This was actually brought up by your dad, Dr. Spain, this scenario. So, what we’re doing is we are putting together a database, it’s going to be available online to our students. It shows other space that there’s going to be available seating, for example, because of social distancing, we have a lot of classrooms that could have been for maybe 20 students that were basically not going to be using for a classroom because they may only be able to sit five or seven people in that room. Those rooms then will be available for a student to go from a in person class to that space, to do an online course. And that database is being worked on as we speak.
SPAIN: So that’s something which he told me about.
CHANCELLOR: Yeah, and then…
SPAIN: I’m sorry, Beth.
CHANCELLOR: I was just going to say to augment that, our computer labs will be open. So, students can use those labs to do their coursework. We will not have as many computers available in the computer labs as we have in the past because of social distancing requirements, so we will be spreading computers out. And then in line with Gary’s comments earlier about cleaning, we will also be cleaning regularly, frequently computers, keyboards, mice, all of those things, so that the lab equipment, the computer lab equipment remains free of viruses and safe for the students. So they will have the space as Gary mentioned, and they will also have computer labs that they can use.
– E SPAIN: So, Gary, when those spaces are determined and you create that database, where can the parent and student go to look and see where a good classroom might be in between classes that meet as a good destination?
WARD: We don’t exactly have that part figured out where that’s going to be parked, but we will have that done, I’m hoping, in the next week. We’re collecting the data now to formulate the database. And we’ve got to be able to put that out publicly to our students can go get that. It’s probably going to be part of an app would be my guess.
SPAIN: Okay. This next question will go back to Dr. Henderson. This one comes from a parent, “If a student has a medical exemption related to wearing masks, do they need to present the doctor’s note, and will they be allowed to attend class without a mask?”
HENDERSON: Students who have issues with wearing mask for medical reasons, or for other reasons should contact the disability office and they are the point of contact for that here on campus. And we’ve discussed this issue and we have some plans and scenarios in place for that. So, reach out early to the disability office and I think they will be able to provide the guidance they need.
SPAIN: Great, thank you. This next question is from a parent and it’s for President Choi, “President Choi, this Show Me renewal plan gives three scenarios for returning to campus. Why did Mizzou choose scenario one, a full return, with coronavirus cases spiking nationwide and in Missouri? Also, what will be the criteria to decide if the campus needs to shut down?”
CHOI: And right now, we are between scenario one and scenario two, in a sense that it’s not because of the level of community transmission, but that we are offering more hybrid courses and the ability for students to be able to select online courses if that fits their current schedule and desire. In terms of opening during this pandemic, we recognize that there are going to be risks, but this community, because we follow social distancing, and face use of face covering, and all of the other CDC guidelines has been very successful, there have only been two deaths in this County due to the pandemic. Now, if we compare that to other parts of the country, including St. Louis, Kansas City, and Cook County, where we welcome many students, compared to Cook County, we have an infection rate that is five times lower, and we want to maintain that. And that comes through effective education, and training, and enforcement, and compliance for the social distancing, and the face covering as well as the symptom checking. And we will be able to move from one phase or one scenario to another, but it’s not going to be based just on the number of cases. And like many communities around the country, we are measuring the level of infection, but a program that was developed by Dr. Steve Barnes, who was our trauma surgeon, Dr. Steve Wood and others looks at three very important categories, including education and training to ensure that we are following the proper protocols. Second is the level of disease spread in the county as well as at the university. And the third is our ability to treat the patient. And in each of these categories, there are 10 or more metrics that would be measured on a daily basis. And using that information, we will be able to make a decision whether we need to go from scenario two to scenario three and do that using a scientific approach. And so, we’re confident that we have the data collection capability as well as the medical and public health officials to make the right decision for us. But we’re not going to close the campus if there are 10 positive cases. Just a few weeks ago, we learned that there were about a dozen cases at the university, but they all followed the procedures that we prescribe, which includes quarantining, isolating, contact tracing, and they have since recovered. And so, we’re going to go with the mindset that there are some risks in bringing students back to the campus, but for us to follow our procedures and use a thoughtful approach of when to go back into remote operation. Thank you.
SPAIN: President Choi, thank you very much. This next question is for Dr. Stackman. And this one comes from a student, “How will students get their books for the semester, assuming that there will be limits on how many people can be in the bookstore at one time?”
STACKMAN: I think that’s probably best answered by Gary Ward.
WARD: Sorry, I had to unmute. So that’s a great question. So, for our Res Life students, they’re going to be delivered to them. So, they’ll be in their rooms when they get there. And for other students, we’re going to make sure that we have the social distancing guidelines, the same way that we’ve talked about earlier with dining, and we’re going to keep everyone queued. So there won’t be some long line that everyone is bunched up together. And we’re also going to probably be working with batches. We’re looking at doing some things outside as well, just for normal sales. Thank you.
SPAIN: All right, Gary, stay unmuted, here this next question is for you too.
SPAIN: “Could students still take shuttles to campus? Don’t recommendations say to avoid public transportation right now?”
WARD: So, that’s a great question. If you look at the modes of public transportation, there’s three primary ones. There’s the city of Columbia transportation system. There’s the Tiger Line shuttle system, and then the apartments. And I’ll talk just briefly about each one of those. So, the city of Columbia is using only their largest buses, may have removed seats out of those in order to have social distancing, the driver would be masked, gloved, and anyone in the bus will be required to wear a mask to follow city ordinance. There’s also a hand sanitizer at both entrances to the bus and exits. And at every single stop, the driver is going to wipe down the entire bus. The campus shuttle system, Tiger Line, that is also managed by the city of Columbia, so it’s going to be following the same protocols. The apartments, that’s a different thing, but we’re very fortunate that about 90% of all of our apartment complexes within the city use the same vendor. And we have a very good working relationship with that vendor. And they are going to be doing something very, very similar to the city and that they’re going to remove some seats behind the driver. The driver’s going to be doing symptom checks every single morning. The drivers will be wearing masks and gloves, there will also being sanitizer. And all the people in the bus will be required to wear a mask. They will be wiping down and disinfecting that bus after every single run. So, we feel like while there is some concerns nationally about public transportation, we’ve got a very, very good model and everyone’s on board to do the right thing.
SPAIN: Thank you. This next question is for Jim Sterk. And Jim, this one comes from a parent, “Are sports still possible, even though they violate social distancing?”
STERK: Thanks, Emily. Yeah, our goal with our student athletes is to keep them safe and reduce the opportunity to transmit COVID. But we’ve gotten advice from our doctors. Dr. Henderson, Dr. Whitt and Dr. Middleton developed protocols along with health officials. We had the SEC medical task force, and then the NCAA also weighed in, so really trying to create as low risk environment as possible. And so just the same as across campus, but we had our student athletes come back about six weeks ago along with the vet med students, and we have not had a student athlete become positive through our workouts, our being in our facilities. So, we’re planning on fall sports and if the pandemic forces something different, we’ll be able to pivot as well.
SPAIN: Okay, thanks Jim. This next question is from a parent for Dr. Stackman, “Will student clubs and organizations still be able to meet on campus?”
STACKMAN: Yeah, great question, Emily. I think student engagement and human interaction is extremely important during this time, probably more so than ever, but so is safety, that’s our number one priority. So, we’re going to encourage and strongly encourage that meetings occur virtually. They can occur face to face as long as they are 10 or fewer, and social distancing can be maintained and mask would be worn. We’re going to require mask in all of the common spaces where student organization meetings are, and the complexes are in the student center. And then, when we’re looking at events, we encourage also students to have events, but again, follow guidelines. In most cases, they’re going to be 50 or less participants, but it’s going to vary based on the variables, whether it’s outdoors or indoors and the level of contact with students.
SPAIN: Okay, Dr. Stackman, thank you. This next question is for both Dr. Stackman and Dr. Henderson, you can both chime in on this one if you’d like. It’s from a parent. It reads, “In the event that a student tests positive, what university resources will be available for them as they quarantine? Will any representatives be checking in on them regarding food assistance, food delivery, additional medical treatment, academic support, et cetera?”
STACKMAN: I’ll go ahead and start. And then Dr. Henderson can, please jump in. In most cases, we’re going to encourage students to go home when they can and when appropriate. When they can’t, we will be assisting as much as possible. Dr. Henderson.
HENDERSON: Thank you, Bill. As part of the contact tracing and case investigation process, students are going to be provided with that information on how to reach out for resources they may need, whether it be related to academics, whether it be related to their healthcare or other things that they may need during their time in quarantine or isolation, so that will be information that our case investigators and our contact tracers work with the students in those situations.
SPAIN: Okay. Dr. Henderson, thank you very much. Next question comes from a parent. This one is for Maurice Gipson. “Maurice, are the social justice centers in IDE having their hours changed in anyway, and will they still be offering the same services?”
CHOI: I think we did lose Maurice. The programs and the social justice centers and IDE will continue, but some of the activities may be limited to number of participants, so that we can maintain social distancing, but we will continue to deliver programs that we can’t face to face using webinars and other means of communications using Zoom.
SPAIN: President Choi, thanks for stepping in there on that one. Next question is to Dr. Henderson. This one comes from a parent talking about contact tracing, “Boone County already has an inadequate number of contact tracers. Will MU have its own contact tracers to deal with potential outbreaks on campus?”
HENDERSON: Great question. As they identify that Boone County initially had some shortage of contact tracers and case investigators. To assist in this process, the university has entered into a partnership with the Columbia Boone County public health department. We are in the process right now of hiring both case investigators, lead contact tracers, and contact tracers that will be doing the work for our university’s students. We’re very pleased at the response we’ve got from applicants, and we fully expect to have those ready and in place by the time the students are in writing, should the need for those services be occurring. So, we’ve looked at that and recognize that can be an issue.
SPAIN: Okay. Dr. Henderson, thank you. So next question is for President Choi. “How will the face covering ordinance be enforced and what should students do if they see someone without one?”
CHOI: So, the face covering policy that we’re going to be using is the same as what exists in the city of Columbia, so that we avoid confusion because our campus is right in the middle of the city. And we don’t want our stakeholders to be confused in terms of where they are located. And for students, faculty, and staff who are in buildings, we are going to require them to either wear a face covering or a face shield. And sometimes, students may arrive at a class without a face covering. And so, there will be some emergency supplies available for those students. And there are also other students who may have medical reasons not to wear a face mask. And for those students who have a medical reason, we will ask them to sit in a section of the class, still with good access to the view of the faculty members, but away from other students to protect that student from potential transmission. In terms of what can other students do, is to remind them that it’s not only their health that we’re concerned about, but the health of the community. And to carry around an extra disposable face covering and provide it to that other student. But we’re also going to enforce, if students refuse to wear a face mask in buildings or when they’re not social distancing, then there will be an investigation. Due process is very important, but it may lead to suspension. Because like I said, we need to take the safety and health of our community very, very seriously. So yes, we will have some grace obviously, but there will be enforcement.
SPAIN: President Choi, thank you. Dr. Stackman, let’s talk a little bit about Greek life now. “Will there still be Greek housing, even though it seems like a place where the virus could spread easily?”
STACKMAN: Thank you, Emily. Yes, fraternity and sorority chapters are actually adopting to many of the same policies that the university has adopted and especially our residence halls and they will practice social distancing and other preventative measures to encourage health and safety in all venues, including chapter houses and meetings. Houses themselves are working to accommodate social distancing. They’re looking at their events and programs and making adjustments to make sure that they adhere to CDC guidelines and university and community policies. And in addition, Greek houses are encouraged to determined places to quarantine students who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 or who has tested positive for COVID-19 themselves.
SPAIN: And while I have you, Dr. Stackman, a student asked, “Will the Rec center be open?”
STACKMAN: Yes, in fact, we just sent out an email today to all members and it will be open the end of August. And again, social distancing and safety, cleanliness is that the heart of everything that they will be doing in that facility, a lot of the same equipment will be there. It will be spread out. We are going to manage usage, so it won’t be as crowded. The hours will be the same. And the only change I think, well, we’ll see physical changes obviously, but the programmatic change will be club sports. We won’t be offering as many because of the contract.
SPAIN: Okay, thank you.
STACKMAN: You’re welcome.
SPAIN: This next question is from a student and it is for Dr. Henderson. “Where will the quarantine housing be located? If told to quarantine, can students opt to move home instead?”
HENDERSON: To respond to the first question or the second question first? Yes, if a student so desires to move home, the university will support that provided the student can do so safely and still have the academic resources they need to do their coursework. I think, obviously, one of the big things we recognize is will all students have access to internet. And that may not be possible for all of the students. So, we would want the student to take those things into consideration in deciding if they need to move home or not. To answer, I think, what the first question had to do with where will that off-campus or the campus places be for quarantining and isolation? That information is something that we won’t release out to protect the privacy of those individuals who are in quarantine or in isolation. But rest assured we have facilities identified and ready for those students who live on campus who need places to quarantine and to isolate those have been made available and identified through student affairs for those students.
SPAIN: Dr. Henderson, thank you very much. This next question comes from a parent and it’s for Maurice Gipson and Dr. Stockman, if you want to chime in as well. But Maurice, let’s first have you answer. “How will you assist incoming freshmen to acclimate and get to know each other during this first week before school starts considering they have so many restrictions?” Maurice.
GIPSON: That’s an excellent question. Thank you, Emily. I thought you were going to give me a hard one that was supposed to go to your dad.
SPAIN: You got lucky.
GIPSON: So seriously, honestly, we’ve re-imagined what the student experience would look like in COVID. Luckily, during this pandemic, we’ve been able to pivot in quite creative and unique way. So, you’re right now, our student engagement and success unit, which is headed by Dr. Natashua Davis, is looking at creative ways to already orient some of our students, even during the summer before they get here in the fall. So, she’s did, creative Zoom sessions with them, where they’ve got a chance to get a chance to know one another. I know she has set up some creative group activities, we’re even looking at, as students do come back and we’re able to socially distance in some of the classroom, some of the other spaces, even get a chance to get together and do some creative things while still maintaining health and safety. So don’t fret. Don’t worry. We have a lot of creative ideas in store somewhere, surprises for when you get here, but we will make sure that you do have, first a safe experience for one, that is still meaningful for incoming freshmen students.
STACKMAN: I would add to that. So welcome week will happen. It will be very different, but it’s going to happen. They have been working all summer to make sure that we offer our first years an opportunity to be engaged right from the beginning and define their home away from home. Residence Life also will be assisting students and making sure that they know venues to get involved and get engaged. Our office will be sending out emails to first years, and then the involvement ambassadors will also play a major role in making sure that students are connected.
SPAIN: Okay, thank you so much. Our next question is for Dr. Hart, and this one comes from a graduate student, “Is there a central plan in place or a discussion about extending more funding to graduate students who may need additional time to finish their degrees now? And what about if we have to shut down research and creative spaces once again?”
HART: Emily, thanks for the question. And thanks to the graduate student who posed this question. This is a really important question. And one that we are still holding some hope out that the federal government will come through with some cost extension funds that will help assist graduate students who are funded off of grants. The Heroes Act is what’s being discussed by both houses. It’s not yet been debated, but if passed and we’re hopeful still that it is going to pass, there’ll be $26 billion of recovery for research funding, and which would include graduate students support. I’m also strongly encouraging academic units to think creatively about admissions for upcoming academic years. This may mean that they might decrease the number of graduate student admissions for future years to allow resources that would have gone to new students to extend the funding coverage for existing students who may need a little extra time to complete their degrees in light of COVID and the slowdown of research and creative works. And we also, since March and we’ll continue to do so, liberally grant extensions for waivers and time to degree, so that students will have the opportunity to have authorized support in those areas. And we also intend to allow a central research activities and creative works that can only be accomplished in laboratories and not remotely. However, in the event of another stay in place order, the essential activities will have to be reviewed and approved much like we have done over the course of this summer.
SPAIN: Okay, thank you, Jeni. This next question is for Dr. Stackman from a parent. “If circumstances worsen and the university decides to move to all virtual learning, what is the process for students to defer enrollment and what will be the refund policies for Res life, for example?”
STACKMAN: Probably Kim can answer the defer enrollment piece. I would, so if it happens now, like, I guess they’re happening is the question, if it happens before we open, there would be a refunding policy just like there was in the spring, if happens during the fall semester, my guess is that is going to look very similar to what it did in the spring. And we will be working with students to go home as quickly as possible. And again, we accommodated a handful of students who couldn’t because of various reasons, but if we needed to go online, we would do that as perfectly as possible.
SPAIN: Kim, did you want to add anything?
HUMPHREY: Sure. If we’re talking about a new student who hasn’t get enrolled, they can call the admissions office, and actually they should write or email, so we have it in writing, telling them if they wanted to defer their enrollment. If it’s a continuing student before the semester started again, they’ll need to let us know, but they’ll need to fill out an application for the next term because they sit out a term that they’re inactive and we need to make them reactive, make them active again, so that they can register for class for the next term. If that happens in the middle of the term and they decide to leave, and they need to go through the withdrawal process, and they would still be able to register for the next semester.
SPAIN: Okay, thank you. This next question comes from a parent and it is for Jim Sterk, “What is the latest plan with football games and other fall sports? Will fans attend games and will tailgating be allowed?”
STERK: Thank you. Great question. As far as fans, we’re looking at scenarios of from 50% to lower as far as capacity, we’ll be taking advice from the medical professionals and looking at different scenarios as we get closer. And so, tailgating, we haven’t determined that yet, but some sort would be allowed, just prior to, but we don’t know if we’ll open up the parking lots as early as we have in the past. It’s 7:00 a.m. or something like that. So, all that will be determined, but we were trying to accommodate all our season ticket holders in a safe way. And we’ve employed a third-party to take a look at our stadium, give us advice on how we do all that, but appreciate the question.
SPAIN: I think everyone’s wondering about that one. That’s a big one. Thanks Jim. Well, that wraps up our time today for the Show Me Renewal Town Hall. Thank you so much to all of our panelists for joining us this afternoon and for all of your questions. We’ve more than 300 questions. And if you missed any of this Town Hall, it will be available online shortly after at president.missouri.edu. If you click under the Town Hall tab, you’ll find the full recording of today’s town hall for you to be able to view. Now, for some of the questions we did not get to today, we’ll be posting answers in a frequently asked questions section at renewal.missouri.edu. And they will also continue to regularly add information to that and answers to various questions as they pop up. I didn’t get to ask my dad who his favorite child was. That was the hard question of the day. But for now, I’m going to wrap it up and send it over to President Choi
CHOI: Thank you, Emily. Great job, and your father told me that it was you, and so you’re in a good place. But once again, thank you all for joining us. And we really enjoyed the time to spend with you to answer questions that you have. We all know that you have significant concerns about health and safety of our students. Now, we also recognize that the fall is going to be different than any fall that we’ve experienced. And for us to thrive in that environment, that environment that comes with uncertainty will require a lot of grace, patience, resilience, and also compassion. And we ask everyone to exercise that in addition to the precautions. And if we follow those rules, if we follow those rules, recognizing that they don’t only apply to us individually, but to everyone else. And then we can have the type of on campus, residential rich experience that we are known for. So, we hope to see all of you on August 24th or earlier, but until then be safe and stay strong. Thank you.