JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The University of Missouri (MU) System would move to remote learning if experts suggested it, according to President Dr. Mun Choi.
“If we find the pandemic is turning for the worse, or if experts tell me that it’s time to pivot, we will pivot to remote learning immediately,” Choi said. “Our decisions are not made based on finance, our decisions are based on the best medical and public health input, not only from the state but nationally and from our own experts.”
Choi expressed concerns that a learning disparity would likely occur among students due to varied access to internet and equipment as well as the accessibility of food for lower-income students. He also cited statistics from the University of Massachusetts, saying the school has seen substantial losses in revenue and had to furlough 850 employees indefinitely since making the decision to proceed remotely due to COVID-19.
Choi addressed the House Special Committee on Disease Control and Prevention Tuesday to review the health practices the MU System is enforcing as the fall semester begins. He also announced that two MU students have been expelled for violating campus health guidelines.
“I’m not here to blame students for getting COVID. That would be wrong,” he said. “But I am blaming students who willfully disregard the public health guidelines and knowingly spread COVID; that is unacceptable behavior.”
In addition to the expulsions, Choi said three students had been suspended and nearly 400 other instances of violating public health policies are under investigation by the university.
Choi said enrollment this year exceeded 31,000 students. He said 663 cases were reported on Sept. 5, but that the number had dropped to 332 as of Tuesday due to the university’s isolation protocols.
Additionally, he reported there are two active cases among faculty members and 12 among staff as of Tuesday afternoon.
He said the university does its testing on-site, and the test is free to students without insurance. He also praised the speed of the in-house test, saying turnaround time for results was less than 24 hours in most cases.
Choi testified athletes are tested twice a week as per standards established by the SEC. He said the conference is taking a slow, data-driven approach to making decisions on the fall sports season with input from medical experts and data from other universities.
Most students are adhering to the school’s policy, he said.
“We must, as a university, a community, and a state, learn to manage COVID,” he said. “Ours is a long-term strategy that is backed by the advice and counsel of the medical and public health experts, and we are educating our entire community about the right things to do.”