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Springfield colleges prepare for upcoming fall semester

Published: Apr. 7, 2021 at 10:08 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Springfield college students will return to classrooms this fall. The colleges and universities will run mostly like they did before the pandemic. Leaders explained the plans to return to that new kind of normal.

“You know, in a lot of ways, it’s been a very successful year. Lots of challenges, lots of obstacles to overcome,” said Missouri State University President Clif Smart.

There’s no doubt, higher education leaders in Springfield learned a lot during the coronavirus pandemic. Now, they’re looking take those lessons into what’s next.

“Our goal by fall is to be mostly normal full college experienc,” Smart said.

Smart said he plans to have the majority of his faculty and staff back on campus working regular business hours. Most classes will be in person once again, with a few blended options. Overall, Smart said campus will largely return to the way it was before the pandemic.

“Concerts at the Q, real homecoming activities, normal move-in weekend,” he said.

Leaders at Drury University say it was one of only 2% of schools across the country that operated completely in-person during the pandemic. Chief Operating Officer David Hinson said Drury faculty and staff have been working in their offices since June of last year and classes have been seated with masking, occupancy and social distancing procedures.

“We just continue to drill the message, remain vigilant, keep doing the things that have made us successful, not hang a ‘mission accomplished’ banner over this thing. We’re not out of the woods,” Hinson said.

Drury has used surveillance testing throughout the school year and has kept COVID-19 cases down. Hinson said that is set to continue in the fall. He said the university will return to two-person dorm rooms and is already planning in-person events.

“I think the name of the game, if anything 2020 taught us, is to remain flexible,” Hinson said.

Neither Drury nor MSU are sure about their masking policies yet. They said they’re working closely with the Springfield-Greene County Health Department to roll back campus restrictions and make future plans.

“It’s not a, one day we’re on lockdown and the next day it’s a free-for-all. We’re going to do this thoughtfully,” Smart said.

Smart explained more details in his blog post this week, include a virtual town hall event on Friday at 3:00 p.m.

Evangel University also plans to have seated classes in the fall with standard fall, Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks. Meantime, Ozarks Technical Community College will keep a full slate of both online and  in-person options.

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