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UMKC students prevent coronavirus spread in dorms

Dorms are a special place for freshmen coming into a new environment. They’re a place of many firsts: first college dorm, first time living with a roommate or possibly someone’s first time living alone. However, this typically new and exciting time for incoming students at UMKC has changed drastically due to coronavirus.  

The current state of dorm life is not what any student expected, yet for the residents in Oak and Johnson Hall, it is their reality. While students coming to campus for classes are expected to adhere to many rules, primarily related to mask safety, there are a few additional rules that extend to those who are living on campus. 

Jade Essman, a freshman living in Oak Street Hall, spoke about rules that have impeded students’ socialization.

“We’re not allowed any visitors, except when we were first moving in. We could only have our parents help,” said Essman.

For many students, the college experience is dictated by their social life. Under normal circumstances, students could meet plenty of new people and have in-person classes, but, in the midst of a pandemic, nothing seems normal anymore. Guest restrictions, closed study rooms and lounges and locked dorm kitchens all paint an isolated picture of dorm life for these first semester students. 

Numerous schools, including UMKC’s sister school, the University of Missouri, have faced outbreaks due to rule-violating social gatherings by students both on and off campuses. 

Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Bill Stackman cited behaviors like these as the cause for the spread of coronavirus at the MU in a statement last Tuesday. Stackman also noted that two students were recently expelled and an additional three have been suspended for coronavirus policy violations. 

MU is also investigating 11 student organizations for similar policy violations. Stackman stated that he believes the university will issue comparable punishments in these pending cases. 

According to UMKC Athletics, UMKC faced a small outbreak of its own due to a student gathering that broke masking protocols.

However, Essman said students living at UMKC are behaving according to regulations.

“[Student parties are] nothing I’ve heard of,” said Essman. “We see people hanging out in the courtyard, but for the most part people are fairly distant.” 

Compared to regional schools like MU, UMKC has a lower per capita number of student coronavirus cases.

With a vaccine still out of sight, the need for robust health precautions has not diminished. 

“We must continue to stay vigilant and disciplined with our health and safety practices and protocols for some time to come,” said UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal in a message to the campus community on Sept. 14.

Agrawal’s statement is supported by the nation’s top public health officials. “I am going to comment as the CDC director that face masks, these face masks, are the most important powerful public health tool we have,” said Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the CDC. “I might even go so far as to say that this face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against COVID than when I take a COVID vaccine.”

With 50% of classes completely online and a host of sanitization, mask-wearing and social distancing protocols in place, UMKC has made significant efforts to curtail the spread of the virus.

jacob.l.lee@mail.umkc.edu

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