Spring semester provides new opportunities for COVID-19 response

Truman State University administration is continuing to combat COVID-19 this semester with measures like hiring new staff, preparing for the vaccine and creating ways for the students, faculty and staff to maintain safety protocols while still having some in-person experiences. 

During the fall semester, the preparations included having tests and quarantine spaces available for students who needed them and having students, staff and faculty wear masks and maintain social distancing

We’ve tweaked things to make them work better now that we’ve had some experience with them, and the vaccine is new, but otherwise, I think the strategies we used in the fall, for the most part, were pretty effective,” University President Sue Thomas said.

One of the major changes is that Truman is looking to hire somebody to help coordinate logistics after a student tests positive for COVID-19. Tasks would include finding the student a space to isolate, making sure they get meals, doing contact tracing and checking up on them to make sure they are alright. 

Another change is that there is now a minivan available to transport students needing to isolate in another building. 

This semester, there is a chance that the COVID-19 vaccine will be available to the Truman community. The Truman administration has been in close contact with Jim LeBaron, Adair County Health Department administrator, to see when that vaccine will be available. 

“There are lots of things we are monitoring,” Janna Stoskopf, vice president for student affairs, said. “We’re monitoring what’s happening with cases, how quickly our numbers are changing, and we’re monitoring what’s happening with testing and the availability of testing.”

The administration is also monitoring developments with the COVID-19 vaccines and when it can be distributed on campus. 

Over the winter break, the administration worked to figure out ways that students could connect and interact safely. This includes bringing back more intramural sports, with some modifications and increased precautions. 

“We’re trying to figure out how we provide different opportunities for students to have a break and some relief and relaxation time, and it’s something we’ve had to get much more creative with,” Stoskopf said.  

One way to keep students, staff and faculty safe is for everyone to stay diligent and continue following the guidelines released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Truman State University. 

“We are still in this pandemic,” Thomas said. “We still have to do all the hard work even though everybody is exhausted and not wanting to do it anymore. But coming off of the fall semester and how this campus behaved, I’m really very hopeful. I’m very proud of what our campus has done. We’ve really acted as a good solid community through all this.”