Dear UM System community,
We hope you had a restful winter break, and we are excited for the spring semester to begin next week. As the pandemic continues, we thank you for your continued efforts to keep yourself and each other healthy and safe.
Vigilance is still needed, as the Omicron variant appears to be more contagious, though symptoms may be milder than previous variants. Cases are on the rise in Missouri, the United States and the world. In order to combat this highly contagious variant, we would like to reinforce some best practices that will help each of us mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and continue to provide a fulfilling, in-person, on-campus university experience.
1. The best protection against the virus remains vaccination, including getting a booster shot. We strongly encourage you to get vaccinated if you have not already and to get a booster shot within the recommended time after your initial vaccination. COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are readily available and are free to anyone.
We urge students, faculty and staff to seek vaccination or boosters now before the semester begins in their current locations. Students, faculty and staff can make booster appointments at vaccines.gov. We also encourage you to get a flu shot if you have not already done so.
In addition to the community vaccination clinics, some of our UM System universities are planning walk-in, on-campus clinics for students, faculty and staff to receive free vaccines or boosters. To learn more, visit renewal.missouri.edu (MU), umsl.edu/staysafe (UMSL), umkc.edu/coronavirus (UMKC), and coronavirus.mst.edu (S&T).
2. Virtual gatherings, meetings and events are encouraged when appropriate until further notice. This may include social events, meetings, student advising appointments and faculty office hours. We also recommend that you limit non-essential travel as much as possible.
3. We also ask you to wear a quality, well-fitting mask regardless of vaccination status while indoors or in crowded outdoor settings. Best masking practices from the CDC can be found here.
4. Please remember to stay home if you are sick, even if your symptoms are mild. We urge professors and supervisors to encourage and support this mitigation strategy by providing alternative arrangements for work or learning when possible for those who are isolating.
5. Over the next few weeks, supervisors should seek ways to provide proper social distance between co-workers while maintaining public-facing service.
Since Omicron appears to be more contagious than previous variants, our personal behavior remains of vital importance. As we continue to learn how to live with the virus long-term, a combination of vaccination, masking, social distancing, staying home when sick, keeping a distance or masking when in large groups, seeking testing when showing symptoms, and following isolation and quarantine protocols will help us maintain safe and healthy campus communities.
We expect our community members to take our responsibility to each other seriously as we all contribute to mitigating the spread of the virus. Specific units across each university, particularly health care-related units, may have other requirements. We also continue to require students and supervisors to report positive cases to their respective universities to assist with management of the virus and to provide those affected with resources.
Thank you for your attention to these mitigation strategies.
Mun Y. Choi, President, University of Missouri
C. Mauli Agrawal, Chancellor, UMKC
Mohammad Dehghani, Chancellor, Missouri S&T
Kristin Sobolik, Chancellor, UMSL