Student Life

How Three Midwestern Colleges Are Handling COVID

Student Contributor, Mary Bellm

September 15, 2020

How Three Midwestern Colleges Are Handling COVID
It might be a bit strange for everyone this semester, wherever we are in the college experience. Are you a freshman coming to college? A transfer student starting your first semester of college, post-community college? A recent graduate who is hunting for a job or going to grad school? I’m none of these, but I’m just as uncertain on how to go forward with this semester as any of these students who would be thrown into the college experience amid this pandemic. I don’t live on campus at my university, but I can imagine just how stressful yet exciting being in the dorms for the first time can be! If you’re a returning college student, I’m sure it’s a big change from what you’re used to. Common spaces such as the lounges and dining halls are stressful zones where you used to be able to easily hang out and chat with friends and neighbors. Even being in your own room can be a source of stress if your roommate might have COVID. I’m sure that for everyone new to the college experience there is some sort of welcoming and exciting events for you to attend online or in person so you can join the college community.
It’s been a couple weeks since I started school; the first day was very stressful, thinking about all the elements of classrooms that I didn’t have to consider before. We had Zoom meetings for class introductions, a few confusing emails and a bit of uncertainty on how long the university would stay open. Would it just be the first week? As of right now, the answer is: we’re still going strong heading into September - fingers crossed!

Truman State University

In the way of preventative and safety measures, we have hand sanitizer basically all over campus, designated entrance and exit doors for each building, mandated masks inside school buildings with social distancing measures enforced in the halls, outside, and in the classrooms, a spray bottle and cloth if we want to wipe down our classroom desks, and campus dining take out options this semester. My university has a website with frequently asked questions and a COVID Case update every week, including how many are in isolation and how many have recovered. Compared to other universities, the measures my school, Truman State University, are taking are similar, yet different. Masks are required whenever you’re in the buildings, there’s hand sanitizer within easy reach, and classes are limited to a certain number of students.
Social distancing is also required in classrooms and whenever possible when we are outside and walking around campus. If anything is checked out of our residence halls like pots and pans, it’s a sanitize-at-your-own-risk scenario. We have seven different class options this fall: • Online-Asynchronous • Online-Synchronous • Full, In-Person • Blended On-Campus/Online
• Flipped (Predominantly online, in an asynchronous format) • Flexible (Online/In-Person student choice) As for ending dates for this semester of school, Truman has in person instruction and tests ending November 24th, the Tuesday of Thanksgiving Week, with a study break from November 25th until December 6th until finals start. Finals end for us on December 11th.

University of Missouri

The University of Missouri (Mizzou or MU) is larger than Truman State—student-body wise. MU started classes a week later than Truman University, and offers three course options: • Fully Online • Blended • Face-to-Face Students are also required to wear face masks according to the City of Columbia’s ordinance, except when alone in a private workspace or single-occupancy study rooms, in their resident hall dorm room, or when outdoors when maintaining social distancing measures. They are also providing dining take out options, with socially distanced dinners allowed in the dining halls. Students are required to do a self-check before coming to campus each day. Mizzou ends their fall semester on December 18.

University of Missouri-Saint Louis

The University of Missouri-Saint Louis (UMSL) is also following many of the same guidelines as Mizzou when it comes to social distancing, daily checks, and wearing masks. They only have two course options: • Full Online • Blended UMSL’s fall semester is set to end on December 18. I hope that wherever you’re located and however you are handling this new kind of learning that you have a safe, healthy, and great school year!

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