New and returning students will enjoy a full, in-person college experience at Missouri State University-West Plains this fall.
Interim Chancellor Dennis Lancaster said the university’s staff is back on campus and ready to help students return to in-person classes, on-campus events and a host of student activities after modifying operations this past academic year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
All masking mandates have been lifted, he said, and there are no longer capacity limits on university events. Students who wish to wear a mask on campus or at any university activity or event are welcome to do so, however, he added.
Classes begin Aug. 23, and include not only in-person options, but also many online courses in a variety of subject areas, just as in previous semesters prior to the pandemic, Lancaster said.
“Move-In Weekend” kicks off fall activities
The fall semester will kick off with “Move-In Weekend” Aug. 21 and 22 for students living in the Grizzly House and Grizzly Lofts residence halls. In addition to meeting new friends and setting up their rooms, residence hall students can participate in several community-building activities designed to help them settle into college life.
During the first week of classes, all students are invited to enjoy a full schedule of Welcome Week activities organized through the student life and development office. These include a concert by musician and vocalist Noah Hoehn at the amphitheater, creating your own stuffed Grizzly bear, the student organization fair, inflatables, “Sample West Plains” featuring products offered by local businesses, and a movie under the stars.
In addition, officials in the academic affairs office will host a convocation for new students at end of the week at the West Plains Civic Center theater.
Several traditional fall activities are making a return, as well, such as the Grizzly Spooktacular featuring Halloween themed games, costume contest and a movie; Grizzmas Bingo and game night; a “Glimpse of the Ozarks” hiking trip; a trivia night for students; and tailgate parties to kick off the Grizzly Volleyball and Basketball seasons, organizers said.
Both the Grizzly Volleyball and Basketball teams will return to their normal seasons this fall. Volleyball games will start in late August, and basketball games will begin in November.
Other activities planned this fall include an ice cream social for members of the William and Virginia Darr Honors Program and student leaders, a trip to Silver Dollar City during the Christmas season and a variety of educational programming.
COVID vaccines encouraged
To ensure this “return to normal” operations, university officials continue to work with their healthcare partners to protect the health and safety of students, faculty and staff, and this includes making the COVID-19 vaccine readily available.
“If you have not done so, I encourage you to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible,” Lancaster said. “Receiving the vaccine will protect your health and the health of those around you.
“Because we want to see everyone in our campus community remain Grizzly Strong, we are offering a Vaccination Incentive Program for students who receive the vaccine. They can learn more about the program, the prizes we’re giving away and eligibility on our website,” he added.
Students can obtain the vaccine through several local options, including the Howell County Health Department and Ozarks Healthcare Pharmacy, and it’s available at many other healthcare facilities and pharmacies across the state, Lancaster pointed out. “And it’s free,” he stressed.
The past year taught us all some very valuable lessons, Lancaster said. “We now know that we are more flexible and have more access to technology because of our experiences over the past year. We will take every lesson learned and use them to enhance the educational experience for our students,” he said.
Registration for the fall semester continues, and a wide selection of classes are still available. More information about scheduled classes and admissions and registration procedures can be found at wp.missouristate.edu or by calling 417-255-7955.
“For those of you who have already registered, we can’t wait to see you on campus this fall,” Lancaster said. “If you haven’t registered, please give us a call or, better yet, come and visit us in person. Give us the opportunity to show you how to reach your educational goals.”