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UMKC students voice mixed opinions on shift to online-only classes

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Photo: UMKC Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal announced the university will switch to online classes following Thanksgiving break. (UMKC)

UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal announced on Nov. 18 that most of the remaining in-person classes will move online for the rest of the semester. Clinicals, labs, and experiential classes will remain in-person, but all lecture-based courses will be taught virtually. 

Not all students were pleased with the announcement.

Patricia Blanton, a sophomore in UMKC’s dance program, said she understood the reason for the switch but she would benefit greatly from in-person classes.

“We have already been switching between online and in person for dance classes,” Blanton said. “I personally learn better when I’m in the studios. It’s difficult to work on technique when you are staring at a computer screen.”

Jessica Scott, a criminal justice student who is graduating next month, said she had her last in-person class at UMKC but did not even know it at the time, as the university’s announcement came a few days later.

“It was a bittersweet goodbye to undergrad,” Scott said. “I love UMKC and Kansas City. The atmosphere of the city and campus are very welcoming, so moving on is a little harder than I thought, especially since it isn’t under normal circumstances.”

Agrawal cited the transmission risks brought by Thanksgiving travel as the reasoning for the decision.

“Authorities have now advised us that the holiday season offers renewed risk as many in our community will travel back and forth between campus and home or other destinations during November and December, just as the pandemic is reaching new heights in Kansas City and across the country,” Agrawal said in his announcement.

Although students will not be attending in-person classes, campus facilities will remain open to students, including the Swinney Recreation Center, Atterbury Student Success Center and the Miller Nichols Library.

Agrawal said that by moving online during the holiday season, UMKC can be ready to return to campus at the beginning of the spring semester. However, UMKC officials will be monitoring the pandemic, as well as state and local recommendations, to determine if and when there will be a return to in-person classes.

UMKC is not the only university within the UM system school that is returning to an online-only format following the break. System President and University of Missouri Chancellor Mun Choi announced that MU will also be online for the remainder of the semester.

“While our experts say that MU students have not presented a direct burden to the local hospitals because they have not needed hospitalization, we are all members of the broader community,” Choi said. “And as the community strives to gain control of the virus, a temporary thinning of the student population is helpful.”

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