The COVID-19 count continues to rise amongst students at Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) even despite stringent social distancing measures on campus. As of September 4, 2020, sixty-two Missouri S&T students and two Missouri S&T employees have tested positive for COVID-19. Of these sixty-four cases, twenty-two patients have fully recovered. Throughout the week of August 31st through September 4th, thirty-six students and one employee tested positive for COVID-19. This is a total of ten more cases than were diagnosed the previous week, indicating that cases will continue to rise as the semester continues. Besides a minimum of six feet social distance in campus classrooms, limited group gatherings of ten people or less, a mask requirement indoors or anytime social distancing is not possible, and an abundance of hand sanitizing stations, Missouri S&T Student Health Services (SHS) also provides COVID-19 testing. Testing is available by appointment only. Appointments may be scheduled by email, firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone, 573-341-4284. SHS is located at 910 W. 10th St. across from the university track. Any students or employees that obtain a positive test result at a testing venue other than SHS are encouraged to inform Missouri S&T. The number of positive cases found at https://coronavirus.mst.edu/confirmed-cases/, is indicative only of campus testing results and individually reported results from tests at other health care locations. The actual number of cases may be greater.
Furthermore, to help limit the spread of COVID-19, SHS has partnered with Phelps-Maries County Health Department to produce rigorous contact tracing. The identities and information of those testing positive for COVID-19 will be kept private. However, close contacts of those having tested positive for COVID-19 will be contacted by SHS or the local health department and will be requested to quarantine.
The extent of preventative action taken at Missouri S&T indicates that the spread of COVID-19 through the student and employee population is likely a result of failure to comply with the recommended best health practices either on or off campus. Missouri S&T states that students should perform a self health check prior to heading to campus (this includes taking your temperature and evaluating for symptoms), maintain social distance, adhere to the campus face covering policy for when a mask must be worn, and practice frequent hand washing and sanitizing. However, social gatherings off campus have failed to adhere to these policies and likely act as epicenters from which the virus spreads. As a result, Missouri S&T is taking disciplinary action when known violations of safety precautions take place. A group of Missouri S&T students were reported to have taken part in an event on Friday, September 4th where best-health practices were not adhered to. The gathering took place on a rental property off campus. Forty undergraduate students were identified and faced disciplinary action (potentially including suspension) for endangering the health and safety of others.
Compared to other universities, such as the University of Missouri (Mizzou), Missouri S&T has a very low case count. Mizzou alone has reported over 800 student cases compared to Missouri S&T’s sixty-two student cases. This translates to about three percent of Mizzou students and less than one percent of Missouri S&T students that have tested positive for the virus. There are many students at Mizzou who fear this count to be inaccurate, claiming that tests are hidden by the university to minimize reported cases. Some students have spoken out against the university, speaking to the difficulty involved in getting a test ordered, even when they exhibit every COVID-19 symptom. According to students, Mizzou does not allow testing unless a referral is given by a workplace. Otherwise, students exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms are merely advised to self isolate. The University of Missouri System has given no indication of how much the case counts will escalate before further action is taken to limit the spread, such as shutting down campuses as occurred in the Spring 2020 semester.
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