MU starts classes, parents remain concerned about university preparedness

1 month 2 days 8 hours ago Monday, August 24 2020 Aug 24, 2020 Monday, August 24, 2020 1:38:00 PM CDT August 24, 2020 in News
By: Tyler Driesenga, KOMU 8 News
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COLUMBIA - MU students returned to campus for the first day of class Monday, but some parents remain concerned about student COVID-19 testing.

Several parents told KOMU 8 News they are concerned their students don't know when, how or where to go to get tested. They said MU's Show Me Renewal Plan does not specify where or how to get a test. 

The 23-page plan includes information on what to do if a student tests positive, outlines contact tracing plans, and defines what constitutes a close contact.

"Close contact is defined as within six feet of someone for 15 minutes or more with or without a face covering," the plan states.

However, the plan does not specify if a student should seek to get a test if they feel they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, or if they should wait for a contact tracer to call and tell them they have been in close contact.

MU spokesperson Christian Basi responded to these concerns at a press conference Monday afternoon.

"If you are not contacted by a [contact tracer], and you believe, 'hey I might have been in close contact. I'm a little concerned,'" Basi said. "The message to them is to watch their symptoms, call your health care provider if you have concerns, and talk it over with them."

Basi said they are not conducting tests on asymptomatic individuals at this time.

"There are specific definitions, there are specific medical definitions of what a close contact is," Basi said. "And we are leaving those medical definitions and those judgements to the medical experts who've been trained in that field."

One parent told KOMU 8 News she worries tests are only available during regular business hours. 

"There does not seem to be readily available, easily accessible testing," the parent, who asked to remain anonymous, said in a text message to KOMU 8 News. "Yes, there is testing available after a Student Health Center referral, but only during weekday business hours." 

"[Knowing] when you should get a test I think they've done pretty well at with the daily monitoring stuff they handed out in their little COVID kits," said Rachel Trokey, a junior at MU. "But how to get [a test] wasn't really super clear."

Trokey also said she wished MU had done more to prepare for students to return.

"I know there's other universities that were trying to get all their students tested before they came back. So I wish they would have done something like that," she said. "We've all been talking, like my friends and I, and we're pretty sure we're going to go all online within the first couple weeks or so."

The Show Me Renewal Plan states the university's research pointed to the conclusion that "mandatory mass testing is not recommended, partly because it only provides a snapshot of the situation."

The plan asks students to cooperate with contact tracers and contact the Student Health Center or their health care providers if they start to show symptoms, a message Basi reiterated Monday.

The current Boone County Health Department recommendation is for close contacts to remain quarantined for 14 days.

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