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St. Louis-Area University Leaders, Students Grapple With What’s Left Of This Semester

A family of geese traverse the UMSL campus.
File photo | Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Today’s college campuses are in many ways designed to be like small cities, featuring places to shop, eat and live daily life as well as learn and teach. And in the age of coronavirus, those campuses are facing major concerns and questions not unlike those that municipal leaders are grappling with.

The University of Missouri-St. Louis’ Jessica Long-Pease is one of the people working closely with UMSL’s on-campus students and staff in this uncertain time. She’s the director of the Millennium Student Center and the Office of Student Life, both of which are normally buzzing with people.

“[Our] communication to our students has been, ‘Come to campus if you absolutely must, but in the interest of all of our health and safety, let’s make sure that we’re trying to spread each other out as much as possible,’” Long-Pease said on Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air. “So it’s definitely a little bit more like a ghost town right now than it typically is, and for those of us who work in student affairs and student services along with faculty, it’s a completely different view of campus than we’re used to having.”

She joined host Sarah Fenske to talk about recent decisions affecting the university’s student population. She also shared how she and other student affairs professionals are working to support college students affected by developments surrounding COVID-19 — and how students are responding.

Some of the most common struggles involve adjusting to classes taking place through virtual tools rather than in person.

“I think we’re hearing from students in various different places where they’re struggling to transition into that online course-delivery model,” Long-Pease said. “A lot of folks choose to take in-person classes because they want that direct social interaction with other people and to be able to participate in those classroom discussions, and it’s a much different experience when you’re speaking with your class over Zoom.”

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan and Joshua Phelps. The engineer is Aaron Doerr, and production assistance is provided by Charlie McDonald.

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Evie was a producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.