MU students head home for Thanksgiving with virtual learning planned for final weeks

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COLUMBIA, Mo. — Students at the University of Missouri finished their final day of in-person classes before Thanksgiving break Friday, and this year, they won’t be returning back to the classroom to finish out their semester.

Since August, more than 2,300 students at MU have tested positive for COVID. With concerns of students traveling home for Thanksgiving, the university decided to move its finals online.

Students said Friday they were just grateful to be allowed on campus this semester.

“My outlook on all of this has changed so much since the beginning of the year when I was so upset about everything being so different,” MU freshman Maggie Courtney said. “Every experience we are having is unlike anything anyone has ever gone through with their freshman year of college.”

Freshman Shannon Worley said, originally, she was frustrated with the university because of all the restrictions.

“I would definitely say we missed out on certain aspects of it, but I would say we are making it our own and we are making the most of it,” Worley said.

After Thanksgiving, classes are going remote, including final exams. Residence and dining halls will stay open over Thanksgiving break for those who can’t travel home.

“The only difference is instead of returning in a week, they’ll spend the last three weeks of the semester at home,” MU spokesman Christian Basi said.

Those on campus were required to wear a mask at all times unless they were outside alone.

“It’s definitely hard to make that connection with people and recognize people,” Worley said. “Masks are also difficult in communicating as well.”

Both Worley and Courtney had in-person classes this semester and said they felt safe and protected.

“The crowds weren’t really a big deal,” Worley said. “Things are really spread out, and some of my classes actually got split into two, so our normal classes are now split in half and we have a smaller time period to meet.”

“In all honesty, I’ve never felt unsafe in the dorms or in my classrooms or eating lunch,” Courtney said. “Everywhere I’m in a university space, we’re wearing masks, we’re social distancing. I think the only time I’ve felt unsafe are not with the university. It’s been very mandated here.”

Basi said 900 cases were referred to the Office of Student Accountability for students not complying with the school’s guidelines.

“Many of them frankly were in the residence halls,” Basi said. “We would have individuals trying to sneak in people that didn’t live there. They wanted to have a friend over. They wanted to chat with someone not in the that community, and we had said from the get-go, no visitors.”

The university expelled two students for violations and at least six more are facing suspensions.

“It also sent the message to the community that the university was taking this very seriously,” Basi said.

Basi said nearly 70% of classes were either in-person or hybrid this semester, but now everyone will be remote until the end of the semester.

“I think at this point of the semester, things being online is no longer scary to me,” Courtney said laughing.

“It’s unprecedented times, which is like the phrase of the year I feel like,” Worley said.

For now, the university is planning to return to in-person classes when students come back Jan. 19, but Basi said MU is going to continue to monitor the situation and things could change.

The last week of the fall semester is Dec. 14.

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