March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19, better known as the Coronavirus, a pandemic.
Amid the spread of the virus, multiple schools and universities across the country, and the globe, have closed for the summer, opting for online classes to finish the year.
Although some students are excited by not having to return to campus, others are quite troubled.
In the case of international students, simply going home is not an option. Some are required to stay in the U.S. due to visas. Many international students live on campus and will have nowhere else to go once the campus is closed.
For others, rounding up the money to cover travel costs is an issue, in addition to many airlines ceasing operations for the time being.
Holding classes online poses another issue. There are students who do not have access to reliable Wi-Fi or a connection at all. Some majors, such as digital media production, require students to use technology they do not have access to at home, yet another issue.
Schools in Missouri have started momentarily closing. The University of Missouri, in Columbia, is one of those.
“They had a group of people at a conference from Mizzou, someone not from MU at the conference tested positive,” said Mizzou senior Kailey Huffaker.
The students seemed healthy upon returning, but one went to the hospital on March 11 and tested positive for the virus. The Mizzou campus administration immediately sent out an email saying that an MU student had been exposed but had not been on campus.
Mizzou has cancelled classes this week and next for precautionary reasons.
“They completely cancelled the rest of classes this week, and are moving everything to online next week. Then supposedly we’ll return after spring break but I’m not sure that’ll happen after everyone has been traveling to various places,” said Huffaker.
As of March 12, the University of Central Missouri has not cancelled any classes but departments across the campus have been discussing their plan of action.
The UCM News Bureau sent out an email with a statement from President Best saying, “If you are a student, as you prepare for what is hoped to be a relaxing spring break, please don’t forget to pack your textbooks, computer and other essentials. Although we have made no decision regarding any changes to class format, we are continually monitoring the situation and will keep you updated on any new decisions.”
The UCM Campus Health Center has made changes in their operations. Since the emergence of the virus in January, the Health Center has been reviewing and following the CDC guidelines for health care facilities.
The screening process for students has changed as well. When students arrive in the Health Center, they are asked if they have traveled outside the country recently. If a student has recently returned from a high-risk area, the Health Center intends to verify the symptoms, follow the CDC guidelines, and work with the Johnson County Department of Health.
Amy Kiger, director of campus community health, informed Muleskinner staff the Health Center is asking students to make appointments over the phone rather than coming in. They’ve also implemented separate sick and well waiting rooms so healthy students coming in to fill prescriptions will not come in contact with students showing any sort of symptoms.
“In the event that the campus closes, we are looking into a Teladoc system so students can receive medical advice and have prescriptions filled over the phone,” Kiger said.
According to Kiger, no one on the UCM campus has shown COVID-19 symptoms, so no testing has occurred. If a student were to show symptoms, the Health Center intends to work with Johnson County Department of Health for proper testing and treatment.