SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Universities and colleges are taking separate approaches on in-person classes and finals week.
Students at Missouri State University (MSU) will be coming back for classes after a three-day Thanksgiving break while students at Evangel began classes a week early with finals starting Saturday, Nov. 21.
“The whole idea of doing this was to limit travel and keep students safe,” said Paul K. Logsdon, director of Evangel’s public relations. “By cutting it off at Thanksgiving and not coming back until January, we’ve limited one big hurdle.”
Officials from Missouri State and Evangel said student compliance with COVID-19 guidelines is what allowed them to stick with their original holiday schedules.
“What we have seen is after that initial spike in cases that we’ve done extremely well, and even after holidays, we didn’t see significant spikes after holidays, which is what we were concerned about,” said David Hall, director of public safety and COVID-19 response at MSU.
Hall said he expects more than 700 students and staff to have taken advantage of testing on campus before traveling home for break.
“We’ve offered testing for everyone before everyone goes home,” said Hall. “That is not a get out of jail free. It’s just one additional step you can take.”
Logsdon said students at Evangel will have plenty of time to quarantine before and after the fall semester ends and the spring semester begins.
“The travel schedule is a safety factor for both the campus and the students,” said Logsdon. “Once they leave, they are able to go home, stay home, pick up a part-time job, whatever, and don’t have to worry about coming back until early January.”
Both universities said they had given guidance on how to stay safe despite holiday travel.
“They’ll be encouraged just to be very cautious, just try to stay as isolated and secure as possible for the two weeks before coming back to campus,” said Logsdon.
Drury University is similar to MSU’s schedule, bringing students back for classes and finals after Thanksgiving break. Ozarks Technical Community College is giving instructors the option to move courses online after the Thanksgiving holiday.