We are continuing to monitor the COViD-19 situation. Missouri Western is committed to the safety and well-being of our campus community and fulfilling our mission of education and service. For updates, alerts, and more information, click here.

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Coronavirus: COVID-192020-08-05T13:20:47-05:00

Planning for a Safe Return-to-Campus
for In-Person Learning
Fall 2020

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We have worked to make as many decisions as possible to provide for fall planning by early July. However, the situation continues to change rapidly. As educators, we fully appreciate that we are able to learn more every day about Covid-19, so to make the best and most informed decisions, we believe that it is responsible to wait as long as feasible to make certain decisions in light of what we can understand about the progression of the disease and how it will impact the fall semester.  

We are currently planning for a range of scenarios from in-person classes and activities to primarily online classes and support services.

We expect that all classes will have some kind of online aspect in order to accommodate those with underlying risks and those who may become ill during the semester.  This will also enable faculty and students to pivot more seamlessly during the semester should that become necessary.

Review our guiding principles for this process.

Top Things You Need to Know For the Fall 2020 Semester

To protect our campus community and take the health of everyone into consideration, we respectfully request your understanding and cooperation. Your efforts can also help reduce issues and minimize potential disruptions on campus.

Physical Distancing2020-07-09T16:34:58-05:00

The goal of physical distancing (sometimes called “social distancing”) is to help us keep from infecting others. We all want to remain socially in touch with our families and friends, but physically distancing can help slow the spread of coronavirus and other illnesses. 

  • Keeping physical space between you and others – six feet / two meters – is one of the best tools we have to avoid exposure to the COVID-19 virus and slowing its spread. Since people can spread the virus before they know they are sick, it is important to keep this physical distance from others whenever possible, even if you have no symptoms. 
  • Physical distancing is important for everyone, especially to help protect people who are at higher risk of getting very sick. You can protect yourself from COVID-19 the same way you protect yourself from other viruses with a few common sense practices. We ask employees and students to follow these practices as far as practicable:  
    • Limit close contact with others. If you are in a shared space with other people, remain at least six feet apart (about 2 arms’ length).
    • Wash your hands thoroughly and often. Make sure you are cleaning between your fingers and under your nails.
    • Avoid shaking hands, especially with those who appear to be ill.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth as much as possible.
    • Disinfect shared and frequently touched surfaces.
    • Stay home when you are sick or have been exposed to those who are sick.
    • Stay out of crowded places and avoid large gatherings. 
    • Reduce unnecessary trips.
    • Get fresh air and exercise while maintaining physical distance from others

Many more specifics on how we will implement physical distancing as a campus community are detailed throughout this document. More information from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) is available here

Face Coverings2020-07-29T12:48:46-05:00

Beginning August 10, face coverings are required in all indoor public spaces. Disposable masks will be available once classes begin. Details will be posted soon. Please check back.

Face coverings are not required when:

  • you are in your private work space, or when you are in your own residence hall room without guests.
  • you are eating (though physical distance should still be maintained as much as possible in these situations).
  • you are actively engaged in a physical workout, per the protocols provided by Athletics or Recreational Services.
  • you have an accommodation provided for ADA reasons by the Accessibility Resource Center or HR office.

When you are outdoors, maintaining safe physical distance is still required, and masks are recommended.

Please note:

  • For employees, reusable cloth masks have been distributed to all departments. Please contact your administrative coordinator for more details.
  • For students, reusable cloth masks will be distributed to resident students when they check in to collect their room key. Non-residents can pick up their masks in the Nontraditional and Commuter Student Center in Blum Union, room 234 beginning August 17.
  • The CDC has posted guidance on how to properly wear face coverings to protect yourself and others.
  • Face coverings range from disposable masks to reusable cloth masks, gaiters, or scarves.  They should cover the nose and mouth and fit closely to the face. Multiple layers are more effective. 
  • Disposable masks should be discarded after daily use. 
  • It is recommended that cloth face coverings should be laundered on a daily basis. 
  • Wearers should wash their hands before putting on and taking off their masks and should avoid touching their face while wearing a face covering for maximum benefit. 
  • Lip Reading Needs: any member of the campus community needing a lip-reading accommodation for classes or job functions should contact the Accessibility Resource Center directly as soon as possible so appropriate arrangements can be made.
  • Medical Exceptions: If a student has a medical condition requiring an exception to this policy, this should be arranged through the Accessibility Resource Center prior to returning to campus for the fall semester. If an employee has a medical condition requiring an exception to this policy, this should be arranged through Human Resources. (Alternatively, arrangements should be made to remain off campus for the fall semester.)
  • Compliance:
    • Students without appropriate face coverings will be sent to a central location within each classroom building to obtain a mask.
    • Students who are non-compliant will be engaged in conversation with the faculty member to address the situation.
    • If the student does not comply, UPD will be called to remove the student.
    • Non-compliant students will face disciplinary action for violations.
    • Employees not in compliance with this policy will be subject to discipline.
Maintaining Good Hygiene2020-07-14T16:56:19-05:00

Handwashing – critical: Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing, or touching your face. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash your hands after touching your face.

Coughing/Sneezing Hygiene Etiquette – critical: If you are in a private setting and not wearing a cloth face covering, please remember to always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Alternatively, you can cough or sneeze into the inside of your elbow. Throw any used tissues in the trash and immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand sanitizers with greater than 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol.

Gloves: According to the CDC, gloves are not necessary for general use and do not replace good hand hygiene. Washing your hands often is considered the best practice for common everyday tasks. 

Cleaning/Disinfection – Team Effort: Physical Plant / Custodial staff will do their best to keep campus common areas, public spaces, and office areas clean based on CDC guidelines and protocols for disinfection. However, we all need to be vigilant to help keep our surroundings clean. Cleaning and disinfection requires the cooperation of everyone.   Of note, 

  • Hand sanitizer stations will be provided in high traffic areas and near building entrances.
  • Cleaning supplies will be available for students and faculty to wipe down classroom areas (e.g. desk and chair surfaces) on a self-serve basis between sessions once classes begin. 
  • Departments may request additional cleaning supplies if they wish to do additional self-serve cleaning during the work day, for example to wipe down commonly used surfaces.  You can request supplies here.
  • It may be noted that the latest CDC guidance indicates that the virus is not easily transmitted via surfaces.
Self Monitoring for Symptoms2020-07-23T09:52:18-05:00

Keeping your distance:

If you feel sick, you must stay home and away from others on campus.

Taking your temperature, monitoring symptoms:

Employees and students who will be on campus must conduct symptom self-monitoring every day before reporting to work, class or any other campus activity. Employees must be free of ANY symptoms potentially related to COVID-19 or have had evaluation and clearance by a health professional in order to be on campus.

These are all matters of personal responsibility; we are not requesting or requiring any reporting or documentation of these actions.

COVID-19 symptoms:

At this time, symptoms include one or more of the following:Cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever above 100.4, chills, repeated shaking with chills, runny nose or new sinus congestion, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, fatigue, new gastrointestinal symptoms, new loss of taste or smell.

CDC Symptom Checker

COVID-19 Testing2020-07-09T16:43:18-05:00


  • Those experiencing signs or symptoms of COVID-19 should consult with a healthcare provider about whether testing is needed and if so, direction for where to obtain a test.
  • Those determined to be close contacts (per CDC guidance) of a confirmed COVID-19 case should also be tested to the extent feasible in the local context. (See below regarding contact tracing.) If testing is not feasible for all close contacts, the CDC recommends 14-days of quarantine, mask-wearing, and self-monitoring.
  • At the current time, and in line with CDC advice to institutions of higher education, the University does not plan to mandate COVID-19 testing or antibody testing for all employees or students in order to return to campus.
  • The state of Missouri continues to increase free community testing opportunities. Those who wish to be tested should communicate with Mosaic Medical Center, the Student Health Center, or the City of St. Joseph Health Department for assistance in determining where testing may be available at the time when it is sought.

Contact Tracing

  • The City of St. Joseph Health Department can assist in efforts with contact tracing if a positive case of COVID-19 occurs in the campus community.
  • If a class is being taught in person, it is recommended that the faculty member use and enforce a seating chart to (1) ensure physical distancing, and (2) facilitate contact tracing if it becomes necessary.


  • At present, no vaccine is available for COVID-19. When a vaccine is available, the University will explore further what may be recommended or required for those living and working on campus.
  • When available in the fall, a current flu vaccine is recommended for all those living and working on campus who are able to receive it.  Flu shot clinics will be provided on campus. Dates will be communicated to the campus community as soon as they are scheduled.
What happens if there is a positive COVID-19 case on campus?2020-07-23T13:17:51-05:00

Positive cases – communication

Positive cases – isolation

  • Any member of the campus community testing positive for COVID-19 who is not in need of hospitalization should be isolated at their permanent address if at all possible.  
  • If that is not possible, several rooms will be set aside on campus for isolation.  Priority will be for residential students who do not have other housing options. Depending on the circumstances, the University may make rooms available to other members of the campus community.

Close Contact with a Positive Case

  • The City of St. Joseph Health Department can assist in efforts with contact tracing if a positive case of COVID-19 occurs in the campus community.
  • Those determined to be close contacts (per CDC guidance) of a confirmed COVID-19 case should be tested to the extent feasible in the local context. (See other info above regarding testing and contact tracing, which will be updated as more information becomes available.) If testing is not feasible for all close contacts, the CDC recommends 14-days of quarantine, mask-wearing, and self-monitoring.
  • In the event that it is not possible for a member of the campus community with prolonged direct exposure to be tested, or to self-quarantine, public health officials indicate that the individual must wear a mask at all times and in all places for the full period of 14 days from the date of exposure.

Compliance – Failure to comply with these protocols may result in removal from campus and potential discipline.

Revised Academic Calendar

7/31 RAs move in
8/10 All Employee Kick-Off Event
8/11-12 Move-in for first years (by appointment)
8/12 Faculty Senate Plan Day
8/13-16 Move-in for returning students (by appointment)
8/13-15 Griffon Edge
8/17 First Day of Classes
9/7 Labor Day – No Classes – Campus Closed
10/12 Registration for Spring Classes
10/14 Midterm Grades Due
10/23 Last Day to Withdraw from Classes
11/19 Last Day of Classes
11/20-24 Final Exams (Friday-Saturday, Monday-Tuesday)
11/25-12/1 Adjusted Thanksgiving Break
TBD Fall Commencement
  • 7/31: RAs move in
  • 8/10: All Employee Kick-Off Event
  • 8/11-12: Move-in for first years (by appointment)
  • 8/12: Faculty Senate Plan Day
  • 8/13-16: Move-in for returning students (by appointment) 
  • 8/13-15: Griffon Edge
  • 8/17: First Day of Classes
  • 9/7: Labor Day – No Classes – Campus Closed
  • 10/12: Registration for Spring Classes
  • 10/14: Midterm Grades Due
  • 10/23: Last Day to Withdraw from Classes
  • 11/19: Last Day of Classes
  • 11/20-24: Final Exams (Friday-Saturday, Monday-Tuesday)
  • 11/25-12/1: Adjusted Thanksgiving Break
  • Fall Commencement – TBD

Fall 2020 Guide

News & Updates

COVID-19 Questions

For any questions or concerns about coronavirus that have not been addressed on this page, please contact us using the form below.

About this Page

Missouri Western State University understands the concerns of the campus community over the COVID-19 outbreak. Our goal is to provide clear, concise and timely information to students, faculty, staff and visitors on what Missouri Western is doing to protect our community. 

Missouri Western is closely monitoring COVID-19 with information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization, as well as the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, and the City of St. Joseph Health Department.

The University will continue to abide by and communicate the protocols directed by the City of St. Joseph as they continue to be amended (with respect to physical distancing, limited group size, signage, cleaning, restricted access, etc.).

The information provided on this website is not intended to be all-encompassing and should not be considered medical or legal advice. We encourage proper hygiene and health precautions, but we urge you to consult with a relevant expert for guidance specific to your circumstances.