Dr. Mo Dehghani, chancellor of Missouri S&T, sent the following message to students, faculty and staff on Nov. 15:
Distinguished colleagues and dear friends,
Last week, we recorded the highest number of COVID-19 cases at S&T since classes began in August. Cases are on the rise in Rolla, in our state and across the nation. Given this situation as we enter this final week before Thanksgiving break, it is essential that all of us take even greater precautions against the spread of COVID-19. We plan to return after Thanksgiving break to successfully complete this challenging semester, but it will take every one of us working together for the common cause to make that happen.
It’s important to note that even with the rise in cases locally, statewide and nationally, our situation at S&T is relatively safe. As of Friday, we had 61 reported active cases at S&T – or 0.68% of our university community of 9,027 students, faculty and staff. These numbers, as well as our ability to treat, quarantine and isolate cases (which has been stretched, but not exceeded), give me confidence that we will be able to complete this semester as planned – with a return to our current model of in-person, hybrid and online learning after the Thanksgiving break. We will continue to monitor our situation and contact tracing data, should the need arise to adjust our plans.
We cannot let down our guard against this virus. This recent spike in cases is especially concerning as the holidays – and holiday travel – approach. I’d like to re-emphasize several of the points from Dr. Dennis Goodman’s message last week about Thanksgiving safety and safely returning to campus for those who leave during the upcoming break.
Please take the following measures to protect yourself, your family and friends, and others:
- Get a flu shot if you haven’t already. Contact your health care provider or Student Health Services at 573-341-4284 to make arrangements.
- Carefully plan your travel and holiday gatherings. To ensure the lowest COVID-19 impact to campus, we need everyone – students, faculty and staff – to follow the recommendations outlined in the CDC’s Holiday Travel Guide and Holiday Planning Guide. This includes not traveling if you feel sick, wearing a face covering when using public transportation, and limiting gatherings or celebrating virtually over the holidays.
- Comply with all quarantine or isolation directions that you receive from Student Health Services or other health authorities. To the fullest extent possible, provide information to contact tracers. Requests for information could include texts from Sara Alert (sara-alert.mst.edu), a technology tool S&T uses to help monitor and report public health.
- If you feel sick, do not come to campus. Continue to perform a health check daily before coming to campus, and monitor for COVID-19 symptoms listed on our Stop the Spread web page. If you think you may have COVID-19, contact your health care provider or Student Health Services at 573-341-4284 or firstname.lastname@example.org for guidance. The student health clinic offers antigen testing for students with same-day results but please contact the clinic before going.
- Spread the word about safety guidelines. If you are a faculty member, I encourage you to take a couple of minutes in your classes to discuss this important topic. If you supervise employees, I encourage you to discuss S&T’s recommendations for travel.
- Remain vigilant. Continue to wear a facial covering, maintain social distancing and clean your hands well – whether on campus or visiting family for the holidays.
- After Thanksgiving break, take extra precautions upon returning to campus. During the week of Nov. 30, please increase facial covering use (including around roommates), continue to diligently practice social distancing, do not schedule in-person group meetings during this week, and keep gatherings as small as possible. Make arrangements now if you anticipate needing to work, teach or take classes remotely that week.
- Limit gatherings as much as possible. Due to the risks associated with even small gatherings, I am canceling our annual Chancellor’s Holiday Brunch. Furthermore, I strongly discourage any holiday gatherings, such as office parties, group potluck meals, and gift exchanges, on campus or among student groups. This includes on-campus housing, fraternity or sorority housing, the Christian Campus House, and personal housing. The risk of spread is simply too great for any of us to attempt a “normal” holiday season.
I acknowledge that this has been a challenging semester due to the pandemic. Please know that I see the sacrifices you are making. I take great pride in knowing that many of you have taken the right steps to slow the spread of this virus. Our community has done a stellar job of protecting one another. It may be difficult to keep the momentum going, but we can and we will.
P.S. Thank you to everyone who attended my State of the University address on Nov. 5. If you missed it, you can watch a recording at chancellor.mst.edu/state-of-the-university.