WU announces new Thanksgiving travel restrictions as COVID-19 cases rise among students and in the St. Louis area
Undergraduate students who travel more than 60 miles outside of the St. Louis region for Thanksgiving will not be allowed to return to campus for the remainder of the semester, according to a Nov. 12 email from Chancellor Andrew Martin and Provost Beverly Wendland.
Students are required to complete a form informing the University of their Thanksgiving plans by Nov. 20. Those who indicate that they will be traveling outside the region and those who fail to complete the form will have their campus swipe access turned off.
“We realize this change may create challenges for those of you who have already made travel plans, and we regret that this may be difficult for some of you,” Martin and Wendland wrote. “However, we must prioritize the health, safety and well-being of our community, and given the rapid turn of events with our regional COVID-19 statistics, we would be remiss not to rethink our approach at this time.”
As of Nov. 12, there were 30 active cases among undergraduate students, 7 among graduate students and 25 among faculty and staff, marking the highest simultaneous number of cases since the start of the semester.
This upwards trend was reflected on both a metropolitan and a state level. The number of people hospitalized in St. Louis with COVID-19 reached 681, the highest number since the start of the pandemic, and Missouri hit record highs in both the number of new cases and the test positivity rate of 22.4%.
St. Louis County Executive Sam Page is expected to announce stricter restrictions for the region at a briefing, Nov. 13. The St. Louis Post Dispatch reported that the new restrictions will close bars and restaurants to indoor dining and lower the maximum gathering limit from 49 people to 10 people.
Limited additional asymptomatic testing will be available to students Nov. 16–19 and 22–24, according to an email from Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Rob Wild.
“Per guidance from regional public health departments, any student who receives a positive result will be required to enter isolation housing and likely will not be allowed to leave St. Louis,” Wild wrote. “The close contacts of students who test positive also will be required to quarantine and also may not be able to leave St. Louis.”
While the majority of classes this semester are either entirely online or offer an online option, some are being taught solely in person, which could lead to complications for students who decide to travel outside of St. Louis.
Students in in-person art classes who leave the region will receive a placeholder grade in the course and will complete assignments and final reviews at the beginning of the spring semester, according to an email from Sam Fox Dean Carmon Colangelo.
Colangelo’s email also said that the Sam Fox School is currently only 35% compliant with the daily required health screenings, calling this a significant drop from the previous month, and noted an increase in the number of reported safety protocol violations.
For students remaining in St. Louis over the Thanksgiving holiday, some programming will be provided by the University, although previously announced in-person events are being shifted to a virtual format.