Clif Smart Press Confrence

Clif Smart speaks at a press conference in July 2020 about the university’s plan for the fall semester.

Missouri State University President Clif Smart said the fall semester was a “very” challenging one, but MSU rose to the challenges. 

While some classes moved online, 60% of classes were able to remain seated. 3,200 students lived in on-campus residence halls and both Homecoming and spring 2020 graduation were able to take place in person. MSU is also the only public Missouri university to have an intramural sports program playing, as of Dec. 2.

“You think about, ‘Could we do a modified partially seated semester and make it through to the end?’ I think a lot of people didn’t think anybody could do that, and we proved you could,” Smart said. “Our COVID-19 numbers were under control the whole semester. We’ve been very stable since the third week of school in terms of those numbers.”

According to the MSU Fall 2020 Confirmed Cases Dashboard,  the semester started with 141 confirmed cases on campus. By the last week of courses, there were 50 confirmed cases on campus as of Dec. 4. 

As of Dec. 2, only one MSU employee died of COVID-19. Smart said he mourns Jason Rhea, Missouri State’s assistant director of facilities management for grounds, who passed away on Oct. 22.

For the 2021 spring semester, Smart said MSU will be “tweaking and retooling” mandates to bring them up to date and making sure they still apply to the new semester.

According to Smart, the university has received 13,000 rapid tests from the state. These tests allow results faster than normal tests. 

The expanded testing program is planned to go into effect in January and February, but MSU needs permission from the state to use them on asymptomatic people.

More technology will be added to classrooms over break to aid professors in using Zoom. Smart said he is challenging the university to design smaller and safer opportunities for student interaction indoors, due to the winter weather.

For major projects on campus, Smart stated Holland House is scheduled to be open for the fall 2021 semester. The permanent outdoor theater behind Craig Hall is scheduled to begin construction in May 2021. The newly expanded Health Science Halls will be open for classes in January.

Follow Tinsley Merriman on Twitter, @merrimantinsley

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