SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Missouri State University students will be back on campus next week to start the spring semester as COVID-19 cases in Springfield continue to rise.
The school said public health officials have warned MSU they will see a large number of students and staff contract the Omicron variant in Jan. and early Feb.
MSU Director for University Safety, David Hall, said they know the first few weeks of school will be challenging when it comes to fighting COVID-19.
“We expect we’re gonna see a large surge,” Hall said. “It’s already begun here in Springfield, Greene County area, and we expect that will continue for the next few weeks.”
From last semester to this semester, Hall said students and staff members shouldn’t expect much to change COVID-19 protocal wise.
“We were already seeing an increase last fall, late last fall,” Hall said. “We know that this is expected to exceed that significantly. We’re not making a lot of modifications on our policies as a result of that.”
Hall said that includes keeping the mask policy the same.
“It requires it in all academic buildings, as well as the classroom environment,” Hall said.
He said students are going to need to take extra precautions this semester in order to reduce the spread.
“We know that many are going to get it, unfortunately, throughout our community, regardless of how we operated this semester,” Hall said.
MSU Senior, Jacob Snow, said it’s important to take COVID-19 seriously.
“I think making sure that people are aware of the protocols and are aware of the boundaries that we have to have, I think the safer and better everyone can feel,” Snow said.
Hall said the biggest difference going into the new semester will be greater flexibility.
“We’ve got them in their format that was already established, and then if we need to, we’ll end up moving certain classes to either blended or some other alternative format in a very brief period of time, and then we get them moved back in,” Hall said.
MSU Senior and Resident Assistant, Andrew Roberts, said he has more in-person classes this semester.
“I plan to wear my mask regardless of academic spaces or not, just because I know things are getting pretty crazy,” Roberts said.
MSU plans to hold a virtual town hall on Friday to discuss the upcoming semester and answer any questions.