Local universities weigh options for the fall semester

Missouri Western and Northwest Missouri State are weighing their options on how to operate their fall semesters.

Posted: May 25, 2020 11:46 AM
Updated: May 25, 2020 11:48 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) The clock is ticking on colleges and universities to make decisions regarding fall semesters.

Some in California are going online only, others are ending their fall semesters early.

But for Missouri Western and Northwest Missouri State, the plans are coming together.

"Some classrooms will look the same, others will change based on linear footage and what the needs are within,” Northwest Missouri State University president John Jasinski said. “We’ll also have some flexible models both in-person and online.”

“What we're looking to do is balance, to the extent that we can be here on campus, we would love to be on campus just because that provides a great experience for our students but understanding that everybody is in different situations,” Missouri Western State University president Matthew Wilson said.

Both presidents know there will be changes for at least for this year and it comes down to safety.

“Washing hands and sanitizing but also social distancing, where you can’t; face coverings and mitigation if we don’t have all of those in place,” Jasinski said.

That stretches from classrooms to food courts to dorms. There's a lot going into this for universities especially if some students or school personnel are more susceptible to viruses like COVID-19.

“We want to make sure that we have a very welcoming environment not only for the students but for our staff and for our faculty as well,” Wilson said. “Some of our faculty may not be comfortable being in front of a room of students.”

It’s just a few months away from the start of fall semester so if plans must change at the beginning or end of the semester, it must happen soon.

“We have to make those in a pretty darn quick time in the next two, four, six, eight weeks,” Jasinski said. “We need to know parameters across academics, co-curricular and athletics.”

Otherwise the universities will hope to see students back in the fall.

“It’s our intent to be here on campus during fall, I think it will just look a little bit different,” Wilson said.

Missouri Western also announced admission changes including waiving the ACT and SAT admission requirements.

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A cool forecast is in store for northwest Missouri and northeast Kansas this week. Fall-like weather will usher into the area Monday with highs mainly in the 60s and no hazardous weather expected through the week. The area could see its first frost Friday morning as the lows drop into the low-to-mid 30s.
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