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Missouri higher ed department relaxes A+ Scholarship requirements


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri Department of Higher Education & Workforce Development (MDHEWD) has relaxed certain A+ Scholarship eligibility requirements as schools shutter amid the coronavirus crisis. 

The A+ Scholarship provides funds for certain high school students who attend an approved public community college, vocational, or technical school, or private two-year vocational or technical school. 

High school seniors with a cumulative 2.5 GPA by either the end of the Fall 2019 or Spring 2020 semester qualify. Additionally, high school seniors will only need to have 25 hours of tutoring or mentoring as opposed to 50. 

For those in college, students must meet the school’s satisfactory academic progress requirements in order to be eligible for the renewal of the A+ Scholarship program. Previously, students were required to maintain a 2.5 GPA. 

“We know alternative methods for teaching, and extended time off from school could make qualifying for A+ a challenge for many Missouri students,” Zora Mulligan, commissioner of higher education, said in a statement Friday. “It’s our hope that by temporarily changing some of the requirements to reflect this unprecedented situation, our students can still be successful in earning and renewing this scholarship.” 

The new A+ Scholarship guidelines are only applicable to 2020 high school seniors and college students for the 2019-2020 academic year. More than 13,000 students used the A+ Scholarship in 2018-2019. 

All public districts and charter schools have shuttered amid the coronavirus outbreak as of Thursday. 

Nearly 50 Missourians have tested positively for COVID-19, and one person has since died. Gov. Mike Parson declared a state of emergency and has signed an executive order easing certain regulatory burdens on state agencies in order to better mitigate the effects and spread of coronavirus. 

Parson left school closures up to the judgment of local districts, a decision that has been heavily criticized by Democrats across the state.

There have been more than 10,000 confirmed cases in the U.S., and 150 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). More than 300 people in Missouri have been tested. 

The virus has been named “SARS-CoV-2” while the disease is called “coronavirus disease 2019,” or “COVID-19.” It can cause severe respiratory illnesses with symptoms such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath, the CDC has warned.

The Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) has opened a public hotline operated by medical professionals around the clock seven days a week. The hotline number is 877-435-8411.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For up-to-date information on coronavirus, check with the CDC and DHSS.