September 28, 2020

Comparing Webster’s COVID-19 plan to other St. Louis area colleges

Webster returned to campus with temperature checks and daily health screenings. What are other St. Louis colleges doing?

So, what’s the plan?

Webster students returned to classes on Aug. 24. For students at Maryville, class meant opening their laptop or desktop computer and logging onto class. For students at Webster, it meant returning to campus and participating in temperature checks and health screenings.

These experiences change based on university. The Chronicle of Higher Education compiled a list of college reopening plans. According to their database, five of the colleges in the St. Louis area have chosen for courses to be mainly online. Another five chose mainly in-person classes, while only one opted for a fully hybrid option. 

Washington University has chosen to not open their doors until Sept. 14.  

All of the schools listed in the charts have plans implemented such as temperature checks, a strict mask policy and social distancing rules. 

Much like Webster, other universities have also chosen to end their semesters early. St. Louis University (SLU) will have their students take final exams remotely the week of Nov. 30 and end the semester on Dec. 4. 

Graphic by Jenna Jones.

Schools like Washington University and SLU plan or have tested their students before allowing them back on campus. 

“After this initial round of testing at the start of the semester, all undergraduate students living in the St. Louis region will be required to complete a university-provided COVID test every two weeks for the duration of the fall semester,” Washington University wrote on their website. “ In addition, we will provide testing for all students, faculty and staff who develop symptoms of COVID-19 at any time during the fall semester.”

Washington University will provide these tests for free to their students. Maryville University joined Washington University in testing students, but they only tested students who were living on campus.

Cases on the rise

As colleges like Mizzou reach upwards of 700 cases, the St. Louis region has largely stayed under 100 cases per college. 

Graphic by Jenna Jones.

SLU holds the most cases for the region at 54. The least amount of cases are Webster and Fontbonne, tied at two cases each.

Colleges who offer on-campus testing have more cases than those who depend on self-reporting. Maryville University tested 1,202 students during their move-in. Of those tested, 28 students were positive. SLU and Washington University, schools that offer medicine programs or have hospitals attached to them, have the ability to test their students while campuses like Webster do not. 

The New York Times has reported over 1,700 cases at 32 schools in Missouri. 

Where do we go from here?

There is no answer to satisfy everyone. Whether entirely online, hybrid or fully in-person, someone will be unhappy. What we do know works is the health requirements put out by the Center for Disease Control and followed by Webster.  

“Following the health and safety protocols that we have put in place is a shared responsibility,” Webster President Julian Schuster wrote in an email to the university on Aug. 24. “As we begin the new semester, please ensure that you observe social distancing and wear a mask at all times outdoors and indoors (excluding your own office or cubicle).”

The requirements as listed:

  • Completing the daily health screening
  • Wearing facial coverings over nose and mouth
  • Maintaining social distancing
  • Frequently washing hands
  • Disinfecting common spaces and surfaces
  • Following the latest updates for your campus

 

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