Missouri State University announced the extension of spring break and the move to online classes on Tuesday, March 17. This came several days after the University of Missouri system released a press release announcing their move to online learning starting March 13.
The University of Missouri system is made up of the University of Missouri, University of Missouri-Kansas City, University of Missouri-St Louis and Missouri University of Science and Technology. Students say instructors have been quick to adapt to online learning, though they voice disappointment about the semester of campus life cut short.
Chrissy Nguyen, freshman marketing major at MSU, said she is satisfied classes are online to protect herself and those close to her, but she understands some students may not have access to the Internet, so this could be rougher on them.
“To be quite honest, I think online classes are much safer and a better way to slow down the spread of (COVID-19),” she said. “(But) there are several events that I was looking forward to that got cancelled.”
University of Missouri system students also shared their thoughts to The Standard.
University of Missouri-Columbia
“I think they were ahead of the curve,” said Tyler Gray, sophomore at MU. “I don’t think they had to, but I guess it would be better to cancel before it started getting bad just in case, so they were a little bit more prepared. If they waited until it got bad and then canceled, it would be even more of a mess.”
Gray said he thinks the university was caught off guard having to quickly move online but they had a contingency plan which allowed for a smooth transition.
“They rolled it out really quick,” Gray said. “They were definitely planning. I think they saw this as an inevitability.”
Gray was taking all seated classes before March 16 when MU made the move to alternative teaching methods.
“I like the social interaction of going to class,” Gray said. “I don’t like this online stuff but I realize they don’t have any choice.”
Gray said he has tried to maintain a routine by watching his class lectures at the time when he would have been in class.
“It’s a lot less structure,” Gray said. “I’m still grappling with that.”
The MU system is offering a 45% housing refund to students who vacate the residence halls by April 3. Gray lives off-campus.
“While campus housing is giving discounts for leaving, off-campus is the same. Those are businesses and we’re still paying for it.”
University of Missouri-Kansas City
According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, there have been seven cases of COVID-19 in Kansas City, Missouri, and 24 cases in Johnson County, Kansas, by March 20.
“I was kind of disappointed that UMKC wasn’t really taking action or wasn’t informing students about what was happening until very late,” said Anna Nguyen, sophomore at UMKC. “Even after people were being diagnosed with coronavirus, we were still in school.”
This made Nguyen feel less protected and “uncomfortable” but she said the faculty has been supportive as they have made the transition to online learning.
“The faculty has been very helpful,” Nguyen said.
Though Nguyen said she believes the administration was slow to move classes online, she acknowledged that it required significant consideration to cancel the professional programs offered by UMKC.
“I think they just wanted to make sure that this was in the best interest of our students because if you cancel Volker campus at UMKC — which is our main campus — you also have to cancel for the (medical) students and law students and for professional school. That can be very difficult.”
Nguyen does not prefer online classes and said it has been difficult to work collaboratively. She also misses the face to face contact of seated classes and on-campus organizations.
Missouri University of Science and Technology
As a part of the University of Missouri system, Missouri S&T will follow the same schedule as MU and UMKC. Classes were moved online on March 13 and spring break begins officially on March 23.
Alec Davis, a sophomore at S&T, feels the university needed to cancel in-person classes and believes they made the right decision, but voiced disappointment over the cancellation of university-sponsored events.
Each year, Rolla celebrates St. Patrick’s Day with a parade and other events.
“They announced that all St Patrick’s Day festivities, all the school-sponsored stuff, would be canceled for the week to deter alumni from coming back and potentially exposing anyone,” Davis said.
Despite the cancellations and changes, Davis said his teachers have been helpful and responsive during this time, pushing back deadlines for assignments, posting lectures online and communicating frequently via email.
“I had several teachers that didn’t use Canvas that only used email who have had to make an adjustment this week, which is probably really tough on them,” Davis said.
Davis said the shift in course format and lack of structure will likely result in a shift in his motivation.
“I’m trying to keep a structure, wake up at the same time that I would normally have class and do the things I need to do as they would normally happen through the day,” Davis said. “But having to stay in a room all day and not go outside and walk on campus makes things a lot more of a drag when you’re not seeing people all the time.”
Missouri Southern State University
MSSU announced they would move their classes online on March 12. After spring break ends, MSSU will resume classes in their online format beginning March 23.
Delanie Thompson, a MSSU sophomore, said she initially heard of the move online through local news, not the university itself.
“When MSSU shut down, it was very abrupt and at first we all didn’t understand what was going to happen because it didn’t come directly from MSSU,” Thompson said.
Thompson, who is involved in Greek life and other on-campus organizations, said she was devastated when she heard classes and events would be canceled.
“It felt like all of our hard work was for nothing,” Thompson said, regarding student organizations and events. “We are all very sad that we have to continue our classes online and not get to see friends every day.”
Initially, Thompson thought MSSU “jumped the gun” moving all classes online preemptively, as Joplin had no known cases of COVID-19 at the time of the announcement.
As of March 20, a case of COVID-19 in Jasper County, where MSSU is located, has been confirmed.
“I used to feel like it was out of proportion but now that a week has gone by, I think they took the right step,” Thompson said.
Currently, MSSU is planning to be online until the beginning of May and reconvene for in-person final exams.
Keaton Campbell, a sophomore at MSSU, doubts professors will have students come back to take finals, especially students who don’t live in the Joplin area.
“Maybe the school will make it an option but I doubt professors will take advantage of that,” Campbell said. “It doesn’t make sense.”