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Education

As Fall Semester Begins, MSU Looks To Vaccines, Testing To Mitigate Virus

Students walking on the Missouri State University campus.
MSU

Classes at Missouri State Univeristy start Monday for the fall semester. As students move in and enjoy Welcome Weekend activities, MSU President Clif Smart talks about the university's plans for mitigating the coronavirus. Listen to our monthly program, Engaging the Community, below.

How many MSU employees are vaccinated against Covid?

"We have over 75 percent of our full time employees fully vaccinated," Smart said. "And so, for faculty, it's seventy eight and a half percent. For staff, it's seventy four and a half percent. I'm really proud of those numbers."

Those are relatively high, even compared to some health care organizations in the region. 

A temporary masking policy

Missouri State University, like several other colleges and universities, has implemented a mask policy for indoors as the fall semester begins.  Smart said it's a "temporary policy."

"Three weeks ago, the CDC recommended indoor masking regardless of vaccination status for areas of high transmission of the disease. Well, in Springfield, still, the cases are going down and have been for three weeks, but we're still in that high transmittal area," Smart said.

After working with stakeholders, both in the community and across the state, Smart said university officials thought it wise to begin the semester with an indoor masking policy.

"We look at it literally every day with a promise that we're going to share our results every 30 days," Smart said.

Testing

"It's nice having a year under your belt to know how we manage this," Smart said of Covid-19 testing.

The university will offer symptomatic and asymptomatic testing for all students and employees at Magers Health and Wellness.

"Asymptomatic testing is available every day on campus for anyone who wants to just check to make sure what their status is," Smart said.

"We do wastewater testing in 10 different locations on campus. That gives us a heads up if we have a problem in a residence hall, and then we can go in and test everyone who's living there just to make sure things are are not getting out of control for all of our students living on campus," Smart said.

If students cannot show proof of vaccination or proof of a negative test result within 72 hours, then the university will test them on site as they move in. 

Vaccination efforts at MSU

Monday through Friday, anyone in the campus community can get vaccinated at Magers Health and Wellness Center in Springfield. They need to make an appointment.

Smart said MSU will also be taking the vaccine to groups.

"So we've already lined up multiple sorority houses. We'll take the vaccine to them. We'll take it to residence halls. We'll take it to the band. We'll take it to athletes. We'll take it to any group campus ministries want want," Smart said.

"Our goal is to make this as easy as possible and to incentivize people and to encourage folks," he said.