August 24, 2020 - A welcome message from UMSL Chancellor Kristin Sobolik

Dear UMSL Students,

As we embrace the beginning of a fall semester unlike any we’ve known before, I want to welcome our new and returning Tritons to UMSL and sincerely thank our faculty and staff members for their tireless efforts throughout the summer months to ensure a safe return to campus.

Normally, this message would focus on sharing the comprehensive student services available to support your degree attainment and, of course, highlight that – like more than 100,000 alumni before you – you’ve chosen an outstanding university dedicated to fostering your academic and career success.

While these points of pride remain true, this welcome message must necessarily focus on addressing our individual and shared responsibilities to ensure the on-going health, safety and well-being of our Triton community in the midst of a global health pandemic.

Throughout the fall semester, we must all remain disciplined and follow fundamental health and safety requirements, whether on or off campus, in order to keep our community safe. This includes wearing face coverings, maintaining 6 feet of physical distance from others, frequent and thorough hand washing and adhering to good hygiene practices. All of these are basic but essential practices necessary to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

All Tritons should download the Campus Screen app – available for iOS and Android devices – to monitor their personal health daily. Do not come to campus or leave your residence hall if you are sick, experiencing symptoms of coronavirus that are atypical of your individual health circumstances, if you have tested positive – or have had close contact with another individual who has tested positive – for COVID-19.

Instead, we require that all students – as well as faculty and staff members meeting one or more of the above conditions – immediately submit a symptom/diagnosis form. Upon submission of this form, UMSL Health Services staff will contact the student by phone or video for an individual consultation. Students may be directed to not engage in campus activities until a request to return to campus form has been submitted and written approval has been provided by the Campus Health Officer.

To limit the number of students on campus at any given time, we have thoughtfully adjusted our fall course schedule. This semester, more than 60 percent of courses will be offered fully online. All other courses will be offered through blended instruction in spaces large enough ensure proper physical distancing. We have also continued to waive online course fees this fall semester to best allow those students who wish to enroll in fully online courses to do so without additional financial costs.

I’d also note that throughout the summer months, our faculty have engaged in a resilient course design process to ensure that all blended courses are structured to seamlessly transition to remote instruction should public health circumstances necessitate a change.

While our classrooms, facilities and student support services will remain open and available to our community, there will be significant changes. Limited seating capacities in classroom, study and communal spaces will allow for physical distancing. Approved face coverings are required to be worn within all campus facilities. Instructors will wear clear face shields while teaching in-person courses. Classrooms will be cleaned between each in-person class and signage outlining safety requirements has been placed prominently throughout the campus.

These are all important measures that we as individuals must commit to daily if we are to have a successful return to the fall semester. You are here to learn and grow – to transform your life through education. And, though our fall semester will look and feel different, please know that we are here to serve you in this endeavor.

Together, we must all remain focused and ever vigilant to protect not only our individual health, but that of our families and friends, our fellow Tritons and our region as a whole. Doing so will be essential for us to not only start safe, but stay safe throughout the fall semester.

As always, we will keep you updated as the semester progresses through announcements in your email and Canvas. I encourage each of you to thoroughly review our Start Safe. Stay Safe. website for the latest information on the university’s response to COVID-19.

I wish you the very best as you begin the academic year and encourage you all to stay safe and stay connected as we move forward.


Kristin Sobolik
University of Missouri–St. Louis