(MARYVILLE, Mo.) Bearcats can plan for a traditional upcoming fall semester.
Northwest Missouri State University is fully intending to give its students a pre-pandemic college experience this upcoming school year. After a year of anything but tradition due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NWMSU officials said the University is ready to get back to normal.
“In some ways, it’s not new but we’re returning to old and we’re excited about that,” said Matt Baker, NWMSU VP of Student Affairs.
A return to normalcy for the Bearcats starts with the majority of classes being in-person and without the need for social distancing.
“We expect our classes to be full. We think we won’t have the same mitigation level in terms of spacing in classrooms based on our current understanding of where we are and where we expect to be by then,” said Baker.
Sports will also make a comeback. Maryville can expect the buzz of a hometown game to pack the Bearcat Stadium after nearly a year without Football. Baker said athletes and other students who typically arrive on campus early for the start of the semester will be allowed this semester.
While University makes moves towards normalcy, officials understand COVID-19 isn't going away anytime soon. Baker said Northwest will continue offering coronavirus testing to students and staff, but whether it will be required this fall is still up for discussion.
“It’ll be a conversation for the rest of our careers,” said Baker, “We don't make decisions for the next 14 or 15 months in a pandemic. We try to make them for the next month to semester based on information as it changes.”
What's not up for debate at this time is the COVID-19 vaccine. While several colleges across the U.S. have mandated students get the shot before returning to campus, NWMSU said students won't have to roll up their sleeves just yet.
“We don't anticipate having a mandate for the vaccine at this time. It is still being distributed under an emergency use authorization and we think right now it’s not quite time to even have that conversation,” said Baker.
Heading into the next fall semester, Northwest administrators said they plan to pivot and stay flexible as they've had to do all year, but are hopeful campus will be reminiscent of the good ol' days.
According to Missouri's COVID vaccine dashboard, 24.1% of Nodaway County is vaccinated. 12,051 doses of the vaccine have been administered with 5,319 residents fully vaccinated.