Mizzou students return to campus early amid COVID-19

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Students at the University of Missouri are currently moving back to campus after being away from the classroom since March.

Mizzou administrators have made some changes to moving in and life inside the classroom. Students started moving in a week early to give enough time and space between each student and their family. 

Director of Communications at University of Missouri Christian Basi said this school year is going to look much different than years past. 

“This year, one of the major changes we made is to expand the number of days we were able to allow students to move-in,” Basi said. “This year we actually asked students and their families to register for a particular time, a 90-minute window, and we had approximately 10 to 12 students moving in during that window.”

Basi said that students are only allowed two additional helpers to move into their rooms. 

Besides moving in, masks are required everywhere on campus.

“It’s mandated that you must wear a mask inside,” Basi said, “They’ll see a little bit more stringent control on mask-wearing outside of the room.”

Another addition is a signed document from roommates agreeing they had a discussion about COVID-19. 

“We’re telling the roommates, the two or however many roommates there are, they have to figure out how do you want each other to act when you’re in each other’s presence,” Basi said. “Do you want to wear masks in your room, are you okay without wearing masks but staying 6 feet apart.”

Basi said the residence halls on Mizzou’s campus hold around 7,000 students and this fall the halls are operating at 92 percent capacity. 

Lilly Size is from Ballwin, Missouri and is starting her freshman year at Mizzou, but that wasn’t originally the plan. She was supposed to be starting the fall at Young Americans College in California. 

“They sent me an email that like we couldn’t go they couldn’t admit a freshman class because of COVID-19,” Size said. 

Instead she made the decision to attend her dad’s alma mater – Mizzou. So she packed up her masks and headed to Columbia. 

“I set up command strips in my dorm on the side of my dresser to like hang the dirty ones and hang the clean ones so I know which one I can wear,” Size said laughing.

As for wearing masks everywhere on campus, she said at this point, she’s used to it. 

“It’s gonna have to happen because at home in St. Louis obviously masks are mandatory almost everywhere we go so I’ve kind of gotten used to it used to wearing masks all the time,” Size said. “It’s definitely gonna be hard wearing masks almost everywhere we go it’s going to be different but I think we’re just gonna have to get used to it.”

She said she still needs to have the conversation with her roommates on how they feel about the virus. 

“Me and my roommates haven’t really had the talk yet of how comfortable each of us are with COVID, so we’re gonna have to have that talk just kinda like aware of each other,” Size said. 

Size said she realizes her freshman year isn’t going to be what she expected. 

“It’s definitely frustrating because of a pandemic it’s definitely like hard because you just want to like go to these things that the freshman last year got to do,” Size said. “I won’t be sitting in my room 24/7. I still want to go out and try to experience my freshman year.”

Size said her mom has a weakened immune system and has had to be careful during the pandemic, but her mom also wants her to enjoy college. 

“So she obviously wants me to be careful, she obviously wants me to wear a mask wherever I go, whenever I can, but she also wants me to have a good time,” Size said.  “So my parents are like definitely being cautious but they also want me to experience a good freshman year.”

Basi said the university is prepared if a student contracts the virus. 

“We have an Isolation area where we have several residence facilities that will allow us to isolate an individual,” Basi said. “We have procedures in place to make sure that they continue their academic progress so that we will be getting in touch and they will be getting in touch with their professors.”

He also said Mizzou hired their own personal contact tracers. 

“We’ve hired almost 2 dozen contact tracers for our campus alone but those contact tracers will be working directly with the public health department,” Basi said. 

Basi said there have been faculty and staff at Mizzou that have tested positive for the virus, but he couldn’t release a number. He said the university plans to keep track of the number of students who contract the virus. 

Testing is available for any student or faculty member at MU Health Care on the south side of campus. 

School starts on August 24 for Mizzou students. 

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