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MU president: In-person learning a ‘very important endeavor’

Finding a safe way to get students back to in-person learning was a priority this fall, according to University of Missouri System President Mun Choi.

“We wanted that in-person experience for our students, but at the same time, taking into account the masking requirements and social distancing,” Choi said. “We felt that we are a very important component to the workforce and the economy — we create the workforce, we do research that benefits farmers. That’s a very important endeavor, and it was important for us to then find ways to have in-person for our students, and faculty and staff have stepped up.”

Choi joined Sunday’s episode of “This Week in Missouri Politics” to discuss the social distancing measures the university had taken this fall, the substantial decrease in cases since Labor Day, and the way community feedback impacted the way the school’s approach evolved.

“With the COVID crisis, there are things where we may have gone a little too far, and we pulled them back,” Choi said, pointing to a rule established early in the semester that required students to wear masks — even if walking alone outside.

“We heard back from the community about what that would do to student’s mental health, and we listened to our medical experts and we pulled it back,” Choi said. “Now masks are required if you’re outside and can’t maintain social distancing.”

Choi also discussed student journalism, access to technology, and the CARES Act funds released to Missouri’s colleges and universities last week. 

Columbia Mayor Brian Treece joined the show in the second half, where he discussed covered education, the city’s economic development, and Columbia’s approach to the pandemic and his perspective on the public’s response. 

“Back in February as coronavirus was taking hold in Washington D.C., at the time I think the fear was more contagious than the virus,” Treece said. “I committed then to follow the data and make decisions based on science and not political pressure or public opinion, and to prepare and not panic.”.

Watch the full episode of “This Week in Missouri Politics” below.

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