Truman Completes Academic Year Without COVID Disruption


As the spring semester concludes with finals and graduation, the entire Truman community can celebrate the end of an academic year that was free of any COVID-related stoppage.

While the 2020-21 school year was affected by the pandemic, Truman was never in a position that necessitated pausing instruction or sending the entire student body home. According to statistics tracked by The New York Times, there were more than 660,000 coronavirus cases on college campuses during the academic year. As of April 27, Truman had a total of 521 cases among students and employees since July 2020.

Starting last summer, Truman took a number of proactive steps to limit exposure to and spread of the virus on campus. Course offerings included in-person, online and hybrid options. Classrooms were all socially distanced, plexiglass barriers were installed in areas where face-to-face interactions take place, signs promoting safe practices were posted throughout buildings, and floors were marked with stickers establishing six-foot distances as well as the proper flow of foot traffic in normally congested areas. The University also established its own contact tracing program, staffed by trained students, which helped slow the spread of the virus on campus.

While Adair County observed a mask ordinance from late November through May 1, Truman continues to follow its own campus-wide mask policy in place since July.   

“I was so proud of our students and employees who all committed to the public health measures necessary to keep our community safe,” said Brenda Higgins, associate vice president for student health and wellness.

A majority of Truman cases were documented in the fall, although the largest spike of the year occurred in February with a high of 52 active cases. Since that time, the number of active cases dropped sharply, and the University twice reported zero active cases in the spring semester.

Access to vaccines helped slow the spread among the Truman community. Survey data from Truman students in April showed almost two-thirds of the sample were already vaccinated. Since vaccinations became widely available in Kirksville, case counts have trended downward.

The Adair County Health Department conducted several drive-through clinics in conjunction with the Missouri National Guard. Vaccines were also available through Northeast Regional Medical Center, Hy-Vee Pharmacy, Walmart and Walgreens. On two occasions in April, the University conducted on-campus vaccination clinics open to all students and employees where a total of 427 doses were administered.

To accommodate in-person guests for graduation, Truman will host seven separate ceremonies over two days, May 7-8. Graduates are allowed two guests each, and Pershing Arena will be socially distanced for each event and sanitized in between ceremonies. Livestreams will also be available for those not in attendance.

Although the end of the pandemic is in sight, it remains a fluid situation. The University will continue to follow CDC and other public health guidance. In anticipation of the easing of at least some restrictions, the University will take appropriate, proactive steps this summer, such as returning all of the chairs to the classrooms. A determination about whether hybrid classes will take place in-person will be made no later than June 30. All University announcements related to COVID-19 will continue to be emailed to students, staff and faculty and posted to