A message from Dr. Elizabeth Kennedy, Missouri Western president:

Campus community,

I want to thank all students, faculty and staff for your ongoing efforts to protect the health and safety of the Missouri Western community. Because of your concern for others, we have thus far avoided any major outbreaks of COVID-19 and have been able to continue offering in-person classes and campus operations throughout the school year. You and your efforts have made a difference. Well done!

While the City of St. Joseph’s emergency mask order will end at midnight tonight (March 23), Missouri Western will continue to require that face coverings be worn over the mouth and nose in all indoor public spaces, including classrooms and hallways, and in outdoor spaces where physical distancing cannot be maintained. In reaching this determination, the University’s COVID Response Team considered various factors, and recommended to me that for the safety of all involved, Missouri Western continue to exercise its existing guidelines. On behalf of the COVID Response Team, I’d like to explain why our COVID-19 safety protocols, including the mask requirement, will remain in place.

 I’ve said several times over the past few weeks that there are reasons for hope, including the recent drop in the number of cases on campus and in the community, the low number of local hospitalizations and the growing availability of vaccines. Despite these grounds for optimism, there are also many reasons to remain cautious. While some members of our Griffon family have been vaccinated, many are not yet eligible. Only 12 percent of Missouri residents have been vaccinated, one of the lowest rates in the nation. Additionally, variants of the COVID-19 virus have developed, leading to surges in other parts of the country and around the globe.

 Because of the need for continued caution, Missouri Western will continue to maintain its current COVID-19 safety protocols. That means monitoring yourself for symptoms and staying home when sick, wearing face coverings over your mouth and nose, keeping at least six feet of distance between you and others whenever possible, and washing your hands and sanitizing commonly touched surfaces frequently. Based on our assessment of current conditions, these measures will help us successfully complete the semester and are vital to our continued ability to offer an on-campus experience. 

 Our COVID Response Team will continue to monitor several factors in recommending changes to campus protocols, including the number of cases on campus, in St. Joseph and in the surrounding region; the availability and distribution of vaccines in the community; and the effect of new variants on the spread of the disease.

As a reminder, BinaxNOW COVID-19 rapid result tests are available at no charge for Missouri Western students and employees who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. The tests are available through the Esry Health Center on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons by appointment only. In addition, the State of Missouri has launched its Missouri COVID-19 Vaccine Navigator, which allows residents to sign up to be notified when they are eligible to be vaccinated. If you have not already done so, I strongly encourage you to visit this site. Additional information about the University COVID-19 Response, including the State of Missouri Vaccination Plan is available at https://www.missouriwestern.edu/covid-19/.

With your help, I’m certain that together, we can mitigate the spread of the virus and keep our campus safe and healthy.