Local universities see increase in Covid-19 cases

JOPLIN, Mo.& PITTSBURG, Kan.–Local university students and staff have returned from winter break, but their return raises concerns as Covid-19 cases have risen.

This week, Pittsburg State University tested about 90 students who exhibited Covid-19 symptoms, 50 tested positive.

“So every week on Wednesday we report the last seven days of data, and this past Wednesday we reported that about a little over 90 students had been tested, symptomatic students and approximately 50 and of those were positive at our student health center,” said Abigail Fern, Chief Marketing and Communication Officer at Pittsburg State University.

At Missouri Southern State University, they currently have 48 new Covid-19 cases according to their online covid-19 dashboard.

Due to the number of Covid cases, both schools are requiring masks in most of their buildings.

“The biggest reason why we got mask back was essentially, to try to provide as many activities and opportunities as possible,” said Brent Olson, Student Senate President at Missouri Southern.“So even though it might seem like we’re taking a step back with reenacting the masks, we actually have higher class capacities. We’re doing more events on campus and we’re doing a lot of other things that are beneficial.” 

Bringing back masks gives students a college experience while ensuring their safety.

“Before students came back, we implemented a mask mandate, so we know that that’s a good way to stop spread on our campus. we’ve also widely offered vaccinations over the last two semesters, so hopefully, we know that a large portion of our students are vaccinated,” said Fern.

She adds that at Pittsburg State, they already have many other covid safety procedures implemented on campus.

“More hybrid options for classes, moving classes to larger rooms, things like that. So we’ve done all the things that we can do. And what we decided to do was reinstate our mask mandate, knowing that we have a lot of students indoors this time of year.”

Both say, it’s the best way to keep campus open safely, while local Covid-19 numbers remain high.

Currently, Pittsburg State students are able to get vaccinated at the Bryant Student Health Center.

MSSU’s Wilcoxon Health Center is no longer carrying the vaccine due to low campus demand, and wide availability in the community.