Missouri State expects fall semester to be 'close to normal'

By The Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — Missouri State University President Clif Smart said he anticipates an August start to the new school year that will be as close to normal, adding that the university has learned a lot of lessons from the pandemic and created changes that will remain.

“We are not going to abandon or discard what we have learned,” he said.

During a recent MSU Board of Governors meeting, Smart said higher education officials nationally take two different approaches, the Springfield News-Leader reported.

Some institutions assume they are going to still be in the middle of a pandemic and intend to have a transition or hybrid approach, he said. Others assume they will be mostly through the pandemic and back to a more normal distribution of classes, fewer capacity restrictions and more events.

Smart said he's squarely in the second camp.

The university tested all students who planned to live on campus before the start of the spring semester, identifying 41 students who were positive for COVID-19. That approach combined with hundreds of weekly tests helped the campus avoid repeating a major spike in cases.

Board Chair Amy Counts encouraged Smart to “open it up to a more regular semester in the fall with, obviously, a back-up plan.”