The Miller Nichols Library has added new coronavirus guidelines as health officials warn coronavirus cases may soon begin to increase.
The library, which used to regularly host classes and study groups, is a staple of student life at UMKC. However, the library population has sharply decreased due to a drastic reduction of students on campus and a shift to online learning.
Despite the decrease in traffic, the library remains a study location for students, and reports indicate several students with coronavirus have frequented the building.
The previous guidelines stated Miller Nichols Library was “arranged primarily for individual work and study.” Rules required students to social distance and wear masks at all times, only taking them off briefly to eat.
The library’s updated guidelines prohibit group gatherings, as students are expected to limit themselves to one person per table and one person per room. The policy changes also state there are no exceptions, even for roommates or family members.
Miller Nichols staff repeat these guidelines to students each time they enter the main floor of the library.
Some staff do not believe that all students are listening. Senior Makayla Booker, a student library assistant, said only some are paying attention.
“It’s 50/50. Some people are listening. Some people just don’t care,” Booker said. “That’s just college students.”
In spite of the policy changes, some students have continued to use the library as a means of group study, said UMKC junior Jacob Hanneken.
“On the third floor of the library, I’ve seen multiple students without the mask on,” Hanneken said. “I’ve seen multiple people at those tables that have six people that are huddled in a group.”
Even during the pandemic, Hanneken said he understood why students had the habit of choosing to go to the library.
“During my freshman year they had MAST in the library, so I would always go to the library and study,” Hanneken said.
Students who attempt to study in groups during the coming weeks could face punishment according to the new guidelines.
The library’s current policy states that if students violate the guidelines, they will be asked to leave the library for the remainder of that day. The offending student’s misconduct is also reported to the director of Student Conduct and Civility who may choose to issue harsher punishments.
At the time of writing, no students at UMKC have faced major penalties for breaking COVID guidelines, while at the University of Missouri, UMKC’s sister school, two students have been expelled, eight more have been suspended and over a dozen others are now on probation.
Regardless of purported student behavior in the library, UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal recently applauded the university community’s efforts towards preventing the spread of coronavirus.
“Thanks to your efforts, we have kept the disease in check at a manageable level on campus,” Agrawal wrote in a statement to campus on Oct. 8.