The University of Missouri has expelled two students and suspended three for violating COVID-19 safety policies. In a press statement, the actions were described as “flagrant…willful and knowing actions that threatened the safety of the campus and the broader Columbia community” including requirements that COVID-positive individuals isolate and comply with social distancing requirements.
Mun Choi, UM System president and MU chancellor, described this and the system’s COVID-19 policies in his testimony before the Missouri House Special Committee on Disease Control and Prevention.
Eleven student organizations are currently under investigation for violations of the university’s coronavirus related policies. The school reports that as of Sept. 11, approximately 470 student violation cases have been referred to the university’s Office of Student Conduct and Accountability.
Choi reported that since enacting stricter mask and social distancing rules, the Columbia campus has had a decrease in its active caseload, with a 51 percent drop from 683 cases between Sept. 5 to Sept. 14.
“We like that trend,” Choi told the panel.
This semester, he said, no Mizzou students have been hospitalized with the coronavirus. If a residence hall student contracts COVID-19, they can isolate at one of the 300 hotel rooms paid for by the university, with free meals delivered or meals reimbursed.
‘Many of our students choose to isolate on campus,” he said, “This is one of the best places for students to be because we have the necessary hospital capacity to take care of students and our community.”
Choi said that for now, the choice for in-person classes, with strict guidelines, keeps the school and staff financially safe.
He mentioned the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, which has gone to distance learning and faces $169 million in lost revenues and furloughs of 850 staffers.
“As the leader of this campus at Columbia and president of four universities, I just can’t imagine — and I find it heartbreaking to be able to say– to staff members that this is a time for layoffs and that health insurance will not be provided and to say that during a pandemic,” Choi said.
Choi told lawmakers that many students who have contracted COVID-19 have chosen to isolate in Columbia.
“But I want to make this very clear, if at any time during our 7:30 (a.m.) daily meetings with the medical experts and the public health experts we find that the pandemic is turning for the worse, or the experts tell me that it is time to pivot– we will pivot to remote learning immediately,” Choi insisted. “Our decisions are not made based on finance, but the best medical and public health input.”