Missouri St. to house health care workers if needed

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Every year, we're bringing you stories about students not being able to find parking spots on Missouri State's campus.

But those days are gone for the foreseeable future. You can find parking everywhere now as most of the 20,000-plus students who normally stroll the walkways have disappeared, heading home to take their spring semester classes remotely.

Not quite the college experience they signed up for.

"It is kind of a pain in the butt," said MSU freshman Sydny Kocsis from Sedalia. "It's fun having friends in college to support you and now that that's gone it's a little hard to be motivated."

While around 300 students are expected to remain in dorms because they don't have other options, Missouri State may have some other people moving into a residence hall soon.

The school has agreed to house up to 150 health care workers if needed during the coronavirus pandemic at the request of Governor Mike Parson and the Department of Higher Education.

With Springfield being a regional medical hub for southwest Missouri, it's an important aspect of helping those who are helping others by allowing them to stay away from family members who might be sick.

"I think the idea is that someone could just be home, say an ER doc, and say, 'I have an elderly parent who's vulnerable and I don't want to stay at home.'" said CoxHealth CEO and President Steven Edwards. "So it could be used for that as well. It's a contingency we may need. At this point it's not necessary."

The remaining students will be kept at either Hammons House or Hutchens House while the health care workers would be kept at a separate dorm still to be determined. MSU is still working on the logistics as to when and where the housing could get underway and have been asked to get back with state officials next week.

Sydny says she's not worried about possible contamination from the new tenants and is proud of her school for doing it's part during these difficult times.

"I think it's a great thing," she said. "I also think it's great that they keep the dorms open for the international students and people that don't really have a home to stay at. I think that's really amazing."