President Expresses Confidence About Fall Classes

There is a significant likelihood that Central Methodist University students will return to campus for the fall 2020 semester, according to President Roger Drake.

Drake said he has a high level of confidence that the university will operate as normal in the fall. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the university on March 17 transitioned all coursework online. There have not been any cases of coronavirus on campus or in Fayette, and Howard County has had just two. Both individuals have recovered.

CMU was in position to make such a quick change and move classes online, Drake said, due to an adaptive faculty and students who already have experience with Digital U, which puts iPads in the hands of every student and blends in-person learning with online technology.

Following a recent survey of CMU Board of Trustees in various medical and scientific fields, Drake said he was 85 percent sure that students would return to campus and that fall sports would be resumed.

“They have a high level of confidence that the world will be such that we may operate this fall,” Drake said.

The announcement has been well received this week by Fayette businesses already starved by the regulations put in place to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus. Bars and restaurants, gas stations, and grocery stores are among businesses in Fayette that rely on the student body for regular business nine months out of the year.

“We miss our student neighbors in Fayette and we’re anxious for things to return to our new normal when the students return in the fall,” said Mike Dimond, Director of Fayette Main Street. “CMU is a huge part of Fayette in so many different ways, including sports and music events. The Main Street businesses are looking forward to the students, their families, and other CMU guests returning to town. Our ‘Welcome Home’ mat is out and ready.”

Drake said that one merchant had told him their sales are currently 25 percent of where they are “when students are in town. So we want to give some hope to this town and express our confidence.”

The return of students to campus also signals the start of fall athletics, such as football, soccer, and volleyball. Drake said that both the National Association of Intercollegiate Activities and the Heart of America Athletic Conference have indicated that if there is any possible safe way to proceed, there will be sports in the fall. Drake serves on the NAIA’s governing body, the Council of Presidents.

That’s not to suggest that teams will be able to function as they have in the past, Drake said. Major changes are being considered, such as in-conference only competitions, delayed season starts, and empty stands.

Central is scheduled to begin classes Tuesday, August 18.

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