Masks on top of each other

Disposable masks lay on a table. On Sunday, July 19, Missouri State officials were notified that a SOAR leader tested positive for COVID-19.

A new student orientation leader at Missouri State University tested positive for COVID-19 last week.

According to Michele Smith, assistant vice president for student affairs, on Sunday, July 19, Missouri State officials were notified that a SOAR (Student, Orientation, Advisement and Registration) leader tested positive for the virus.

“All individuals, including other SOAR leaders who had close contact, were notified and placed into quarantine,” Smith said. “The university is working with the (Springfield-Greene County) health department to monitor individuals who had close contact and are providing testing as warranted.”

The orientation, which is normally a two-day overnight visit to the MSU campus, was altered to prevent the spread of the virus to either “a one-day, on-campus orientation or a fully online orientation,” according to MSU’s SOAR COVID-19 Updates on Missouri State’s website. During a SOAR session, students meet with advisors, register for classes and prepare for coming to campus. 

Smith said university officials do not think any students were exposed during the in-person sessions on July 13 and 14, as all SOAR leaders are required to wear masks. Additionally, Smith said university officials believe the contagious SOAR leader was not involved in any in-person sessions. 

As a result, students who were scheduled for in-person sessions Monday, July 21 and Tuesday, July 22 were notified their sessions had moved online, according to Smith. 

However, those who traveled to the university for the intended in-person sessions, “continued with their registration through the use of non-SOAR leader staff,” Smith said. 

Information regarding upcoming SOAR sessions is unknown at this time. SOAR is tentatively scheduled to be held in-person weekly until August 13, according to Missouri State’s SOAR session webpage

“The university is waiting to get more information before a decision is made whether to covert next week’s in-person SOAR sessions to virtual or if staffing will allow them to continue as scheduled,” Smith said. 

According to Smith, the university has prepared for situations like this to occur. 

“The university has developed a wide variety of contingency plans for these unprecedented times,” Smith said. 

This is a developing story. More information will be added as it is released.