No changes planned for University of Missouri, Columbia College amid COVID-19 surge

Roger McKinney
Columbia Daily Tribune

With COVID-19 infection rates increasing dramatically in Missouri and Boone County, the University of Missouri, Columbia College and Stephens College aren't planning any changes now.

Columbia Public Schools on Monday re-instituted a mask mandate for students age 11 and younger who aren't eligible to be vaccinated.

"We are watching it very closely," said MU spokesman Christian Basi. "Currently our Plan A is to have full-capacity, in-person classes. That's where we're at right now. We're in close communication with public health officials." 

Changes can be made if necessary, he said. The university last year directed students not to return after the Thanksgiving break and instead conducted courses online.

"We can make a pivot quickly if necessary," he said.

Vaccinations aren't being required, but they're being encouraged. 

"We are very strongly encouraging people to get the vaccine," Basi said. "It is by far the best defense."

Masks also are encouraged in large groups indoors among people with whom you don't live, he said.

Getting vaccinated is important, he said.

"It's a very powerful tool we have to stop the pandemic and help our fellow human beings," he said.

There are few current cases among students with few students on campus, according to the MU COVID dashboard. On Monday, the dashboard listed 16 active student cases and nine staff cases, and no cases among faculty.

Columbia College also is sticking with its plan for the fall semester, said spokesman Sam Fleury.

"Our plan for this fall has not changed and we are planning on going with full-time, in-seat classes, Fleury said. "However, we are monitoring the situation closely and are prepared to pivot if need be. We are also strongly encouraging all faculty and staff to get the COVID-19 vaccine."

Stephens College will remain flexible, said President Dianne Lynch.

"As always, we continue to monitor and comply with Boone County health department and CDC guidance as it evolves in response to changing conditions," Lynch said. "If there’s anything COVID-19 has taught us, it’s how to be resilient, flexible and focused on our community’s health and safety. And that’s what we’ll continue to do in the weeks and months ahead."