SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Missouri State University President Clif Smart is looking ahead on how the campus will reopen and what changes will have to be made.
Clif posted a new “Clif Notes” blog post detailing some new changes MSU will be going through.
Some of these changes involve:
- Residential living on campus
- Classes (schedules and formats)
- Campus activities
Residential Living on Campus
Clif Smart spoke with KOLR10 about some of these topics. He says off the bat, students living in the dorms will see a new type of move-in weekend.
“We would expect to have a longer move-in period, so maybe for the whole week before classes start instead of just the Thursday and Friday,” says Smart.
Smart also says the university will have one central check-in point as well as a questionnaire about the health of the students. Clif says his residential life team is still working out details but was able to say one dorm building will be used for students who need to be isolated or quarantined due to COVID-19.
Smart says many classes in the fall of 2020 will be either online or a hybrid of in-person and online.
“Students are registering for classes now. By the end of this week, our schedule of classes will be 95-98% set,” says Smart.
Last fall, Missouri State had roughly 600 online classes; this fall, there will be around 800 online classes. Classes will also be spread out longer over the day. Smart mentions, and I remember this as a Missouri State alumni, classes were generally in the 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. window every day.
“We’ll have more late afternoon classes, we’ll have more evening classes, and the idea is so that everybody is not on campus at exactly the same time. We wanna spread that day out,” says Smart.
This new schedule style will allow campus officials to reassign classroom space. Smart gives the example of if a class has 40 students, they can move to a classroom that can hold 80 students or more.
“There’s a whole series of strategies about let’s spread people out, let’s have fewer people on campus at any one time, let’s continue social distancing, let’s figure out some intentional strategies to protect our more vulnerable faculty and staff,” says Smart.
Smart says faculty and staff will be gradually coming back to campus over the summer to prepare for classes and adjust before summer activities like SOAR, taking place in early July. Missouri State will also use the summer to change any plans based on what is happening with COVID-19 at that time.
“I think we will have a lot more small group activities and fewer large group activities. For example, I would not anticipate that we would do convocation this year on Sunday afternoon because that results in 6-7,000 people being in JQH Arena,” Smart says.
With switching to smaller group events, Smart and the rest of the university staff will be focusing on how to keep the traditions Missouri State has with many functions.
“Our teams are working on, what do those first two to three weeks look like in terms of activities if we break people into smaller groups.”
Smart says that the beginning of the school year is very active with those in fraternities and sororities, with nearly 2,000 of the student population being involved in the Greek life system. He says the MSU will be working with the national leaders of these organizations to see what guidelines the university and students need to follow.
Smart says MSU will expect a decision on football by mid-July, the school is also not the sole decider when it comes to its athletics.
“Our conference is a big player in that, and the NCAA is a big player in that, and we have to match up hand-in-glove with the FBS schools,” he says.
Smart is sure sports will return in the fall, he’s not sure what the modifications will be at this time.
“We’re going to have a meaningful, learning, exciting experience on campus in the fall. It may not look exactly like it did a year ago, but it’s still going to be good, and we need to move forward,” Smart says.
Smart also mentioned that Missouri State has given out two million dollars of its Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act to about 6,000 students, and they have opened up applications for students to apply for another $1,000.
“The federal government has sent us about six million dollars to distribute to students. So if you’re out there and you’ve had your life disrupted go on our website and fill out the application, there’s a great chance you can get additional money to help with your expenses,” he says.