Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

College of the Ozarks Response

Current Situation

With the health and safety of the College of the Ozarks community as top priority, The Crisis Management Team of College of the Ozarks is meeting regularly to assess precautionary measures, plan accordingly, and disseminate updates to the campus family. The College is committed to making decisions based on the latest information available. We encourage everyone to be informed and prepared, using this website as a resource and contact point for all updated College information and policies.

  • The campus clinic and the Taney County Health Department are working closely to monitor this virus.
  • Our campus has no reported cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • Commencement is scheduled in conjunction with Homecoming Weekend, on Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020.
  • Students who applied for the Summer Work Education Program have received information regarding a modified program for summer, specifically designed to allow students who qualify for this scholarship to earn their Room & Board for the 2020-2021 year as expected. Students who have been accepted into the modified Summer Work Education Program have been notified.
  • The Keeter Center is closed until further notice.
  • Public student industries are closed until further notice, including Edwards Mill, Stained Glass and Candle Shop, Fruitcake and Jelly Kitchen, Gaetz Tractor Museum, Ralph Foster Museum, and Hoge Greenhouses.
  • The College campus is closed to visitors.
    The Admissions Office is currently offering a revised tour, by appointment only. Please call the Admissions Office at 417-690-2636 for more information and tour availability.
  • Sunday chapel services have been changed to an online format only. Visit https://vimeo.com/showcase/hwuchapel to view weekly services.
  • All College-related travel, both international and domestic, is suspended at this time.

PLEASE NOTE

All employees who continue to report to work on campus should take their temperature with an oral thermometer before reporting to work. If you have a temperature of 100.4 degrees or greater, fever, chills, body aches, cough, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing, do not report to work!

Dial 911 if you experience tightness in your chest, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.

Employees that experience fever, cough, and shortness of breath should:

  • Contact the COVID-19 Hotline by dialing 877-435-8411 for telephone screening and directions for testing.
    OR
  • Access CoxHealth Virtual Visit (https://www.coxhealth.com/services/virtualvisits/) using code: COVID (visits are currently free) to see a Healthcare Provider.
  • CoxHealth Virtual Visit Provider orders COVID-19 test (as appropriate) and registers patient with the Mobile Testing Unit.
  • Mobile Testing Unit will call the patient with the time to arrive at the site for testing. Mobile Testing Unit location and hours will be provided to the patient at that time.
  • Those being tested will be notified of their results by a CoxHealth Team member.

Campus Resources

  • Email: questions@cofo.edu
  • For general questions: (417) 690-2212 
  • For Armstrong McDonald Clinic: (417) 690-3399  
  • For the Counseling Center: (417) 690-3441 
     

Academics/Classes

1. Will there be a partial refund on Room & Board for the weeks students are were not here during the spring semester?
Students have been notified of the adjustments that have been made to their student accounts. These adjustments were made specifically for each student, considering hours worked, scholarships, etc. 

2. What is planned for the re-opening of classes for fall 2020?
The College is planning on reopening for the fall semester with classes on campus.  The administration continues to monitor all the latest information and recommendations from the CDC, state and local authorities, as well as the Taney County Health Department and the College’s medical director.

 

College of the Ozarks Operations

1. What is the status of the College of the Ozarks campus at this time?
College of the Ozarks finished the spring semester in a remote learning environment. The Keeter Center and all public student industries – Edwards Mill, Fruitcake and Jelly Kitchen, Stained Glass and Candle Shop, Ralph Foster Museum, Gaetz Tractor Museum, and the Hoge Greenhouses -- are closed to the public at this time. As the College makes announcements and adjustments, they will be communicated on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) website and via email directly to students, staff, and faculty.

The College of the Ozarks Crisis Management Team (CMT) meets regularly and is working diligently to develop a re-opening plan for campus, which will be completed in phases. All plans are based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention specifically related to higher education, state and local public health and emergency management authorities, and our own healthcare experts. The CMT is charged with making well-informed decisions and coordinating responses to ensure the continued health and safety of our community. The safety of students, staff, faculty, and the community are top of mind as plans are made to re-open.

2. Is the College still conducting campus tours?
Not at this time. Please call the Public Relations Office at (417) 690-2212 to reschedule your tours.

3. How is this affecting Camp Lookout and summer athletic camps?
All summer camps – including Camp Lookout and summer athletic camps – have been canceled for this summer.

4. Is the College holding any events at this time, or have they been canceled?
All College activities, events, conferences and large gatherings are suspended until further notice.

5. What is the status of museums and another public attractions on campus?
The Keeter Center, Ralph Foster Museum, Fruitcake & Jelly Kitchen, Edwards Mill, Gaetz Tractor Museum, and the Stained Glass and Candle Shop are temporarily closed to the public.

6. What are the hours for the Armstrong McDonald Clinic?
The clinic is open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and closed on Saturday and Sunday. They are not taking walk-in’s, so please call to make an appointment.

7. When will the 2020 Commencement be held??
Commencement will take place in conjunction with Homecoming Weekend on Sunday, Nov. 8.

For Employees

  • Who is supposed to work from home?

All employees who can work from home, should do so at this time. If you must come onto campus for any reason, please clear it with your direct supervisor and take your temperature before you come. If you have a fever, stay home and call the clinic.

  • If I am working from home, am I using my COVID-19 allotted sick time?

No, if you are working from home, as discussed with your supervisor, you are simply working your normal hours. If you are unable to work due to qualified COVID-19 circumstances, you should use your COVID-19 sick time. Please contact wrosch@cofo.edu with any questions.

  • What should I do if I feel sick?

All employees who continue to report to work on campus should take their temperature with an oral thermometer before reporting to work. If you have a temperature of 100.4 degrees or greater, fever, chills, body aches, cough, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing, do not report to work!
Dial 911 if you experience tightness in your chest, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.
 Employees that experience fever, cough, and shortness of breath should:

  • Contact the COVID-19 Hotline by dialing 877-435-8411 for telephone screening and directions for testing.

OR 

  • Contact your primary care doctor for an appointment or visit CoxHealthVirtual Visit (https://www.coxhealth.com/services/virtualvisits/) using code: COVID (visits are currently free) to see a Healthcare Provider.
  • CoxHealth Virtual Visit Provider orders COVID-19 test (as appropriate) and registers patient with the Mobile Testing Unit.
  • Mobile Testing Unit will call the patient with the time to arrive at the site for testing. Mobile Testing Unit location and hours will be provided to the patient at that time.
  • Those being tested will be notified of their results by a CoxHealth Team member.

 

Contacts

1. Who can I contact with questions?
For any follow-up questions, please send an email to questions@cofo.edu. Your question will be routed to the appropriate College of the Ozarks staff member to address.

2. What resources are available for students if they need healthcare, pastoral care or counseling?
On-campus students who need healthcare can make an appointment with the Armstrong McDonald Clinic by calling 417-690-3399.
Counseling and pastoral care is available through the C of O Christian Ministries Department.
Counselors - You can request counseling services from our Student Counseling Center.  For more information, please see Student Counseling Center under the Student Resources tab of the Campusweb Student Portal. 
Dr. Justin Carswell, VP for Christian Ministries and Dean of the Chapel, at carswell@cofo.edu
Mr. Justin Sharp, Campus Minister, at jsharp@cofo.edu
Dr. Jennifer Freeman, Director of Christian Formation, at freeman@cofo.edu

Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students

 

Section 18004(e) of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act” or the “Act”), Pub. L. No. 116-136, 134 Stat. 281 (March 27, 2020), directs institutions receiving funds under Section 18004 of the Act to submit (in a time and manner required by the Secretary) a report to the Secretary describing the use of funds distributed from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (“HEERF”).

 

The report for College of the Ozarks is found below.  

June 4, 2020

  1. College of the Ozarks (the College) has signed and returned to the Department of Education the Certification and Agreement.  The College has used no less than 50% of the funds received under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students. 
  2. The total amount of funds that the College has received from the Department pursuant to the institution’s Certification and Agreement for Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students is $1,259,404.
  3. The total amount of Emergency Financial Aid Grants distributed to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act as of June 4, 2020 is $1,259,404.
  4. The estimated total number of students at the College eligible to participate in programs under section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and thus eligible to receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act is 1,438.
  5. The total number of students who have received an Emergency Financial Aid Grant to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act is 1,438.
  6. The method used by the College to determine which students received Emergency Financial Aid Grants and how much they received under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act is as follows:
    1. Determine students eligible for CARES Act funds
      1. Full time, degree seeking, enrolled spring 2020 and enrolled as of date CARES Act checks are processed.
      2. Determine those from (a) above who are Title IV eligible
        • Valid FAFSA on file
        • Have positive Satisfactory Academic Progress status
        • No default or grant repayment issues
    2. Utilize total dollars from CARES Act funds to be distributed to students
    3. Determine amount of students’ checks
      1. Even distribution - Divide total dollars in 6.ii by eligible students in 6.i.
  7. The following information was provided by the College to students concerning the Emergency Financial Aid Grants:
    College of the Ozarks has been fortunate to receive a portion of the CARES Act funding which has been designated for its students.  Please accept the enclosed grant check.
    Please note the following regarding the proceeds of the enclosed check:
    1. This check should be used for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus (including, but not limited to, eligible expenses under a student’s cost of attendance, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and childcare).
    2. You will not have to report how you use the money.
    3. You can choose to use the money to pay your balance at C of O; remember, in order to attend fall 2020 classes, your account must be paid by August 3, 2020.

    We ask that you use the money wisely, stay safe, and have a great summer. We look forward to seeing you soon!

Dated Communications

College of the Ozarks Commencement to take place in conjunction with Homecoming, Nov. 8, 2020

POINT LOOKOUT, MO. — Administrators from College of the Ozarks have announced changes to the academic calendar and other events due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

College administrators have made decisions regarding the following events:

  • Graduation ceremonies will take place in conjunction with Homecoming on Sunday, Nov. 8., 2020
  • Camp Lookout, the College’s free summer camp for local children, is canceled for this year.
  • All athletic camps for the summer have been canceled.
  • The College’s annual Honor America event has been canceled.

These decisions were made based on CDC guidelines and considerations from all areas of campus.

“We look forward to celebrating our graduates and hope this timeframe, in conjunction with Homecoming, will honor them in a special way,” said College President Jerry C. Davis. “We will continue to take in the information at hand and make sound decisions for our student body and campus family. We have weathered many storms since our founding in 1906, and we are confident that the future is bright for our students, and our graduates, who have the opportunity to graduate from this institution debt free.

Based on federal and state guidance regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, the College has made the following decisions:

  1. Remote learning will continue through the end of the spring semester, including finals week.
  2. Graduation will be moved to Homecoming Weekend, November 7-8, 2020.
  3. The two 40-hour work weeks scheduled for May have been cancelled.
  4. For those who applied for the Summer Work Education Program, you will receive more information on the status of the program very soon.

Based on federal and state guidance regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, the administration has made the following decisions:

  1. Remote learning will continue through the end of the spring semester.
  2. Graduation will be postponed. We will share more details as they become available.

Honoring a legacy with each stitch, College of the Ozarks makes “Mynette’s Masks” for first responders, community

Photo of Mynette with smiley facesBeloved C of O staff member Mynette Ulrich passed away March 15, 2020. She had served in the College’s Fruitcake and Jelly Kitchen for 30 years. Her memory lives on through “Mynette’s Legacy Masks.”

Residence Director Jana Goodwin presses masks in the C of O laundry.Residence Director Jana Goodwin presses masks in the C of O laundry.

TCAD employee receives gift of masksC of O delivers 100 handmade “Mynette’s Legacy Masks” to the local TCAD in Hollister, Missouri. Additional deliveries are planned for the Branson fire and police departments and Cox Medical Center. Jeff Hawkins, EMT-P and deputy chief of operations, receives the gift of masks from College of the Ozarks.

Completed mask with smiley facesMynette loved people, smiley faces, and sewing. She shared her “smiley” collection with others and made quilts for hundreds of friends, family, and colleagues. She never charged anyone a dime for either.

 

POINT LOOKOUT, MO. — College of the Ozarks has begun making masks to honor one of its own. Mynette Ulrich, the C of O fruitcake baker for 30 years, passed away March 15, 2020. Now, the Ulrich family is honoring Mynette’s memory by donating hundreds of bolts of fabric for the College to launch “Mynette’s Masks.”

Mynette is remembered for her love of smiley faces and her willingness to share a smile with each person she met. An avid quilter, she generously made over 100 quilts, and never charged anyone a dime.

She was a part of the 100th anniversary of the College and baked a 100-lb fruitcake for the festivities at the request of President Jerry C. Davis. She also accompanied the late Lady Margaret Thatcher, British prime minister, for a tour of the C of O Fruitcake and Jelly Kitchen in 1997.

Now, using hundreds of bolts of her donated fabric, the community at College of the Ozarks decided to help neighbors during the COVID-19 crisis by making cheerful face masks, reminding everyone of Mynette’s joy and love for others.

Mynette’s husband, Ed, had a sewing barn built for her containing more than 2,000 bolts and bundles of fabric,” said Dr. Sue Head, vice president for cultural affairs and dean of character education. “The Ulrich family is honoring Mynette’s memory by donating some of the fabric, and the College is launching ‘Mynette’s Legacy Masks.’ Her family knew of no better way to remember Mynette than by making and giving away masks for the people of the Ozarks during this pandemic.”

C of O volunteers have been working from home to cut, iron, and sew masks, and the College is providing mask-making kits for the public to help in this project.

The first 100 masks were delivered to the Taney County Ambulance District and area fire and police departments. Additional masks will be delivered to Cox Medical Center Branson and made available to the public.

Kindred spirits

Lori Vanderpool, R.N., clinic administrator at College of the Ozarks, helped launch the project.

“I knew Mynette well,” Vanderpool said. “I feel like we shared the same heart strings: the Lord, our family, and making quilts for others. She was a wonderful woman of God, and her love for him and others was contagious to all who knew her.”

Vanderpool and a group of dedicated C of O quilters began making masks last week — testing the pattern, putting kits together, and leading the charge on a worthy cause.

Vanderpool helped C of O administrators monitor the outbreak of COVID-19 from the beginning and has informed them every step of the way in order to help safeguard the campus community.

“Wearing a mask while you are out in public places is one more step you can take to attempt to prevent becoming ill with COVID-19,” Vanderpool said. “Wearing a mask does not guarantee you will not get the virus, but it may help. Do your part to keep yourself, your family, and your community safe. Commit to positivity. There is so much negativity in the world today. Stay positive and make a difference. This is a time when fear meets faith like no other. God is in control and we must trust him and do our part!”

A local landmark

Family was of utmost importance to Mynette. In addition to her work at C of O, she served as the bookkeeper for the family business, the Downtown Texaco in Branson, Missouri, alongside her husband, Ed. Both sons, Dane and Dean Ulrich, graduated from C of O.  Daughter Dee Dee Ulrich is the service manager for Downtown Texaco.

“My mom always saw the good in everything,” Ulrich said. “She never had anything bad to say about anyone or anything. My mom would have something positive to say even now, as we deal with COVID-19. As mad as I get, and want to blame God, I just smile a while. I think that’s what my mom would have told me to do.

“To the College, thank you for giving my mom the opportunity years ago to be a part of that family. She absolutely loved what she did. She loved the students. She loved the people coming in on buses. If there was little bit of my mom in everybody, the world would be a better place.”

How to help

PICK UP A KIT:

  • Currently, mask-making kits are available for pick up in the gazebo in front of the Alumni Center, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., daily while supplies last. 
  • Anyone is welcome to participate in this project and help sew masks.
  • Each kit contains material and instructions to make five masks.
  • Once masks are completed, they can be returned to the laundry hamper at the front of the Alumni Center. They will be taken to the C of O laundry to be washed, pressed, and sealed in individual sleeves to be given out to the public. (Returning them as soon as possible helps our community quicker!)
  • Completed masks may be returned in a plastic grocery sack, tied with a knot.

PICK UP A MASK:

  • Masks will be available for pick-up at the Alumni Center next Tuesday, April 21, from 8 to 10 a.m.
  • People are welcome to pick up individual masks, free of charge.
  • Please take what you need and save the rest for others.

College of the Ozarks finds ways to serve others in unique times

Pre-school student receives meal items Nancy Webb, a preschooler from Kirbyville School District, is delighted to receive meal items from the school. They provide meals for all their students three times a week. Craig Ernsting, director of food service at the Pearl Rogers Dining Center at College of the Ozarks, gave a donation of surplus food items to the Kirbyville School District.

Student and mother sewing masksSamantha Overturf, junior family studies and social work double major from Republic, Missouri, sews masks for local hospitals in Springfield, Missouri.

POINT LOOKOUT, MO. — At College of the Ozarks, many opportunities to serve others have surfaced in the midst of the uncertainty of the COVID-19 crisis.

Fulfilling the needs

Janice Williams, director for the Armstrong McDonald School of Nursing at the College, knew there would be a need the nursing program could fill to help those on the front lines, medical personnel.

“One of our first thoughts was related to our area clinical partners and how we could encourage and assist them during this time,” Williams said. “When in dialogue with the chief nursing officer, Lynne Yaggy, at Cox Branson, she stated that they needed more PPE [personal protective equipment] — masks, gloves, gowns, etc. Immediately, our simulation coordinator, Karen Shepherd, inventoried unused PPE supplies and passed these on to Lynne.”

“I woke up Monday morning from our spring break and had two issues on my mind: When will PPE for our Cox Branson employees run out and can we give them our supplies? and who was going to milk the cows?” Shepherd said. “Giving supplies was a great way to feel involved and helpful. I'm thankful we had supplies available.”

The cows are being well cared for by staff and faculty as more than 30 employees cross-trained to care for the animals on all farms – hog, dairy, and beef farms – and the other workstations that must remain operational, such as the switchboard, landscaping, and power plant.

Blessings in disguise

Dobyns Dining Room at The Keeter Center serves more than 2,300 people per week in the popular restaurant. With the doors temporarily closed, however, Executive Chef Robert Stricklin had a surplus of perishable items.

“I hate nothing more than wasting food,” Stricklin said. “We had all these perishable items, and no one to serve in the restaurant. But we knew we could bless many people by donating milk, eggs, produce, and lettuce and kale from the C of O hydroponic gardens.”

The Keeter Center donated items to Christian Action Ministries and prepared a grocery box for all of The Keeter Center managers who were still working.

Craig Ernsting, director of food service at the Pearl Rogers Dining Center on campus, also found a way to bless others with a donation of food items to the Kirbyville School District. They provide meals for all of their students three times a week. The College gave 828 apples, 120 pears, 450 pounds of potatoes, 12 gallons of orange juice, and 50 pounds of yogurt to the school district.

Kirbyville Schools received the following from a parent: “Thanks for bringing the lunches! [My son's] anxiety was kicking in because he knows I'm not working right now, and he feels so much happier with a bag of his very own food! (We'll be ok, but it's going to be a long spring for sure).”

Ernsting also is finding ways to care for the campus family during this difficult time.

“This week, I started a program where the campus community can buy hard-to-find items from me,” he said. “Eggs, flour, and sugar are not easily found in local supermarkets but are still available in bulk to me. In addition, this week we implemented a carry-out program for the campus community that will feed a family of four with a main entrée and two side dishes.”

“When I found out about the College offering the fully prepared meals for faculty and staff, I was thrilled,” said Chelsey Leimkuehler, The Keeter Center guest services manager. “I have a 45-minute commute to the College, so knowing that my family can sit down and eat dinner right when I get home is a huge blessing. These meals are cost effective for my family, only $12 per meal, which comes out to $3 per person in a family of four. During these trying times throughout our communities, I have been blown away with the efforts that the Pearl Rogers Dining Center staff and College administrators have made to ensure the campus family is taken care of.”

A fortuitus purchase

Samantha Overturf, junior family studies and social work double major from Republic, Missouri, has found a way to serve others and use a unique skill. Sometime ago, she purchased an old sewing machine from a garage sale. She hoped to revive her old hobby. Little did she know how useful that machine would become at just the right time. She’s using it to help others during the COVID-19 crisis.

“My mom found a pattern for face masks, posted on Facebook by a hospital, and I already had the sewing machine,” she said. “I was so excited the details all came together as they did.”

Overturf prepares masks for local hospitals in Springfield, Missouri. When she is not making masks, she is busy learning online and working part time for a license company. Her service to others is a motivation to all around her, including her College of the Ozarks family.

“This young lady is humble, hardworking, and compassionate,” said Toni Whitted, C of O staff member. “She would never say this, but she is a hero.”

The power of prayer

As the College, and the whole country, navigates through unchartered waters, people can feel frustrated when trying to help others and yet stay distant physically. Williams knows that in a time like this, prayer is of utmost importance. She is concerned, not only for her students (future nurses), but also for her graduates, those who are currently the front line of defense.

“Armstrong McDonald School of Nursing faculty and staff are praying specifically for each of our 180 graduates,” Williams said. “One of us is praying for the graduates of the class of 2010, 2011, all the way through the class of 2019. These amazing nurses are on the front lines, providing excellent care and calming patients’ fears. They are in a unique position to be the “anchor” and “calm” in the midst of this health crisis. We are in good hands!”

Professors are praying for the students as well.

“Praying is a powerful way to connect with them even though they may not know we are praying,” Shepherd said. “Through texts or emails and GoToMeetings, we are encouraging our students to trust in the Lord, be patient with themselves, stay safe, recognize God is in control, be prayerful, and stay in the Word. We keep encouraging them to take it one day at a time, and we are still continuing forward with learning, even though the way of delivering education is different.”

College of the Ozarks staff, faculty cover workstations in absence of students

Caden Peterson, residence hall director for Youngman Hall, helps in the dairy barn. He has learned to care for the calves and the specific nutritional needs for each cow.Caden Peterson, residence hall director for Youngman Hall, helps in the dairy barn. He has learned to care for the calves and the specific nutritional needs for each cow.

Paul Baker, admissions and recruitment coordinator, volunteers in the calf barn. Currently, 11 calves have to be bottle fed. Baker, who has no previous farm experience, and other interim dairy workers maintain the free-stall barn, feed the bottle calves, and clean the milking parlor. Paul Baker, admissions and recruitment coordinator, volunteers in the calf barn. Currently, 11 calves have to be bottle fed. Baker, who has no previous farm experience, and other interim dairy workers maintain the free-stall barn, feed the bottle calves, and clean the milking parlor.

Luke Barnett, hog farm manager, works in the dairy barn, ensuring cows are milked on time. They must be milked at 5 a.m. and 5 p.m., daily.Luke Barnett, hog farm manager, works in the dairy barn, ensuring cows are milked on time. They must be milked at 5 a.m. and 5 p.m., daily.

Pamela Spears, administrative assistant and event coordinator for The Keeter Center for Character Education, volunteers to work in landscaping for a day, assisting greenhouse manager Nathan Bell. Normally, more than 15,000 seedlings must be planted each week in order to be ready for spring.Pamela Spears, administrative assistant and event coordinator for The Keeter Center for Character Education, volunteers to work in landscaping for a day, assisting greenhouse manager Nathan Bell. Normally, more than 15,000 seedlings must be planted each week in order to be ready for spring.

Stacy McNeill, division chair for performing and communication arts, volunteers to answer calls in the switchboard. McNeill has assisted with phone calls to students, crisis communication, and is helping the faculty launch online learning next week.Stacy McNeill, division chair of performing and professional arts, volunteers to answer calls in the switchboard. McNeill has assisted with phone calls to students, crisis communication, and is helping the faculty launch online learning next week.

POINT LOOKOUT, MO. —While the College of the Ozarks campus has trimmed to essential operations, remaining staff and faculty are helping out in new ways as they cross-train to perform vital functions.

Because Hard Work U. is a work college, and students are involved in every operation, their absence is felt greatly and affects every area of campus. Bryan Cizek, dean of work education and director of patriotic activities, has worked with College administrators to ensure that all essential workstations are covered, including the farms.

“The farming operations have certainly been affected,” Cizek said. “Other significantly impacted workstations include switchboard, power plant, landscaping, custodial, and the dining facility. All of these workstations are critical to campus operations that rely almost solely on students. We have around 30 employees taking on additional duties. This number does not include those who have taken on custodial duties in the buildings in which they reside.”

“In addition to my current responsibilities as admissions and recruitment coordinator, during this unique situation, I help in the W. Alton Jones Dairy,” said Paul Baker, staff member. “My fellow interim dairy workers and I maintain the free-stall barn, feed the bottle calves, and clean the milking parlor. One of my tasks is interacting with the dairy cows when we move them to the milking parlor. They are fascinating creatures with big personalities. Sometimes it is challenging to convince a 1,300-pound cow, let alone an entire herd, to go where they need to go, so I enjoy learning how to communicate with my new bovine friends.”

Students have expressed concern about the animals, even volunteering to come back to campus to care for them. But according to Cizek, all the animals are being well cared for. Lori Simmons, staff member, normally farms produce in the C of O gardens, and now has served in the dairy, hog farm, and beef farm. She has a new appreciation for her farming colleagues.

“I have learned the system for feeding the livestock,” Simmons said. “There are many different diets among the animals, so it is important to make sure they are given the right feed in the right amounts. I have learned how to clean equipment, how to run the milking system and milk cows, and how to take care of the maternity barn where the dairy calves are. I am still learning daily.

“I normally farm produce, and I have worked around the livestock farms for over five years. I have helped out, but I honestly had no idea what all went into running these farms. The farm managers in the agriculture department and the students have a huge task keeping these farms running so well. I am very impressed and have a greater appreciation for what they do.”

Answering the calls

Dr. Stacy McNeill serves as division chair of performing and professional arts/professor of communication arts, but during this time has assisted with crisis communication, outreach to students, and answering switchboard calls.

“I’ve developed an appreciation for the focus it takes for students to work at the campus switchboard,” McNeill said. “These students give a first impression of the College, and they have to think about their communication, stay calm when they receive several calls, keep an eye out for unusual campus activity on the camera system, and, above all, maintain a professional demeanor. These are opportunities for critical thinking and wise engagement and provide tremendous training for life skills development.”

What we’ve learned …

Staff member Pamela Spears, administrative assistant and event planner for The Keeter Center for Character Education, worked in the switchboard and landscaping departments over the past week.

“In landscaping, I received an education in proper planting, different species, the needs and requirements for the care of the plants, and the produce we harvest and use on our campus,” Spears said. “It was a great crash course! I also learned what you do and do not want to touch, like certain prickly plants, monkey tails and cacti species! We have always known how exceptional and hardworking our students are, but now that we are working in different areas, we have another layer of appreciation for their hard work!”

Caden Peterson, dairy worker by day and residence director by night, said, “I have learned about the different amounts of feed that each cow gets and how specific it has to be, and I have learned that boots are a necessity when dealing with cows! More importantly, I have learned there is beauty in what this campus is doing in this wild, chaotic time.”

McNeill echoed that sentiment.

“I am encouraged, consistently, by the hard work of my colleagues, but I have been inspired, especially, by their work during these challenging times. I have seen a focus on unity above departments or titles, selfless attitudes, and a deep appreciation for and desire to protect our students. We miss them, we are praying for them, and we look forward to their safe return,” McNeill said.

Campus status

College of the Ozarks postponed students’ return to campus after spring break, based on guidance from the CDC regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19). Spring break was originally scheduled March 16-20 and was extended to March 27. A transition to online learning is scheduled to begin March 30 and will continue until a determination is made that students can safely return to campus.

Most staff and faculty members are currently working from home. The few who are working on campus are practicing social distancing while taking care of essential duties, including caring for the cows and hogs.

The campus is closed to visitors until further notice, including these areas:

  • The Keeter Center
  • Public Student Industries — Edwards Mill, Stained Glass and Candle Shop, Fruitcake and Jelly Kitchen, Gaetz Tractor Museum, Ralph Foster Museum, and Hoge Greenhouses
  • Admissions Office
  • Sunday Chapel Services
  • School of the Ozarks

College of the Ozarks staff, faculty launch Bobcat Care Team, calling 1,500 students to encourage, check in

POINT LOOKOUT, MO. — College of the Ozarks postponed students’ return to campus after spring break and will transition to online learning the week of March 30, based on guidance from the CDC in regard to the coronavirus (COVID-19).

“We believe the steps we are taking are in the best interest of our students, faculty, and staff,” said College of the Ozarks President Jerry C. Davis. “Although we have no cases of coronavirus on campus or in the local community, we are working to safeguard our students and limit the spread of the coronavirus. We are following CDC guidelines closely and working with local agencies to ensure we are doing what is best for everyone.” 

Meanwhile, staff members are calling each student, more than 1,500 students, to touch base, assess needs, and relay any pertinent information. 

“The launch of The Bobcat Care Team is a way for us to let our students know we care about them, especially during the extended spring break COVID-19 crisis,” said Dr. Sue Head, vice president for cultural affairs and dean of character education. “We love our students, and we want them to know that! The Care Team is asking a variety of questions related to the students’ housing, food, family. We just want them to know we miss them and hope to see them soon.”

Students have reacted to these phone calls with gratitude and, above all, have expressed concern for their fellow students.

“They are grateful we are reaching out to them,” said Sallie Hitchcock, administrative assistant to the dean of the College. “I am hearing students express concern for other students rather than themselves.” 

Kiley Hutcheson, retail operations manager, reflected on how the College’s value system sustains its employees and students.

“The College has gone above and beyond to make sure that we as employees feel safe and are taken care of,” Hutcheson said. “Through the midst of this situation/crisis, and the unknown, I feel protected. We can truly see our faith in Christ, what this College stands for, shining through in this situation. There is care for all parties involved, and we are determined to press through and come out stronger on the other side. We are learning a lot through this and will be even better after the fact.”

 While making phone calls today, Toni Whitted, public relations assistant, noticed in students’ a longing for their “home away from home.”

“One student I spoke with, a freshman, sounded a little troubled when I asked her how she was doing,” Whitted said. “I asked her what was wrong, and she said, ‘I just want to come back to campus.’”

Leatha Keller, freshman ag business and agronomy major, was concerned about faculty and staff and expressed thanks for all that they are doing to keep things going while students are away.

“I know the situation caused by coronavirus has been difficult on students, but I know it has been just as hard, if not harder, on faculty and staff as they take care of things on campus,” Keller said. “Because faculty and staff are reaching out to us in the midst of everything, it shows me how much love and concern this College has for its students.”

“When challenges make life difficult, seeing students, faculty, and staff help one another is an encouragement,” Head said. “We are working to make sure that there is an adequate rotation of people to cover the essential duties, and that there is rest in the midst of the ‘new normal.’

“Students left concerned about what was going to happen, and many were very concerned about who was going to take care of all the animals on campus. We want them to know that the remaining staff has pitched in all over campus to keep things moving in their absence, including taking care of the cows and hogs. We have a new appreciation for our students’ hard work and commitment!”

From Justin Carswell, C of O Vice President for Christian Ministries and Dean of the Chapel

The President of the United States declared Sunday, March 15, as a National Day of Prayer and encouraged the nation to look to God for protection and strength in the days ahead. As those who confess the Lordship of Jesus Christ, facing uncertain times reminds us that God truly governs the affairs of mankind, and He is where our hope belongs. Let this reminder encourage you to turn to Him who cares for you, "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1). 

Would you join us in prayer for our nation? Although we won't be together, we can be united in praying for those who are sick, for their families, for those providing medical care, and especially for our national, state, and local leaders. We pray God grants you peace and strength to live with the courage, integrity, and character that comes from the certainty of His love, which is at work in you.

The following are specific questions that have arisen as the College moves through the logistics of an extended spring break and move to online classes. We will update this Q&A section with more information as needed. 

Q. Who is affected by the closing of campus? 

A. The campus of College of the Ozarks is closed to visitors as of Saturday, March 14, until further notice, with the hope of re-opening campus in April. The Keeter Center is closing at 2:00 p.m. on Friday, March 13. Chapel for Sunday, March 15, has been cancelled. The College of the Ozarks Child Development Center will close beginning Monday, March 16 until further notice. School of the Ozarks classes are closed, beginning Monday, March 16. All public student industries – Edwards Mill, Stained Glass and Candle Shop, Fruitcake and Jelly Kitchen, Hoge Greenhouses, Ralph Foster Museum, and the Gaetz Tractor Museum are closed, beginning at 2 p.m. on Friday, March 13, 2020.  

Q. Will bus tours be allowed to tour campus as usual? 

A. Bus tours through April 15 are being canceled. We will reevaluate on a regular basis, determining how to handle as we move forward. 

Q. Will guest reservations for The Keeter Center be honored for Dobyns Dining Room, lodging, and meetings & events, etc.? 

A. The Keeter Center is working to contact everyone who has reservations made through April 15. Thank you for your patience as they communicate with everyone.

College of the Ozarks to extend spring break, move to online classes

POINT LOOKOUT, MO. — College of the Ozarks is postponing students’ return to campus after spring break until further notice, depending on guidance from the CDC in regard to the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Spring break was originally scheduled March 16-20. It has now been extended to March 27.

A transition to online learning is scheduled to begin March 30, and will continue until a determination is made that students can return to campus.

Because College of the Ozarks is a work college, and students are involved in every operation, The Keeter Center and public student industries will be impacted. Please note the following:

  • The Keeter Center will be closed as of Friday, March 13, 2020, at 2 p.m. until further notice.
  • Public student industries will be closed as of Friday, March 13, 2020, at 2 p.m. until further notice, including Edwards Mill, Stained Glass and Candle Shop, Fruitcake and Jelly Kitchen, Gaetz Tractor Museum, Ralph Foster Museum, and Hoge Greenhouses.
  • The College campus is closed to visitors as of Saturday, March 14, 2020, including the Admissions Office.
  • Sunday chapel services, beginning with Sunday, March 15, 2020, have been cancelled until further notice.
  • School of the Ozarks, a laboratory school operated by College of the Ozarks, also has cancelled classes until further notice, beginning Monday, March 16, 2020.

“Our concern is for our campus family,” said College President Jerry C. Davis. “We believe the steps we are taking are in the best interest of our students, faculty, and staff. Although we have no cases of coronavirus on campus or in the local community, we are working to safeguard our students and limit the spread of the coronavirus. We are following CDC guidelines closely and working with local agencies to ensure we are doing what is best for everyone.”

“We will work tirelessly to aid students, staff, and faculty during this transition period,” said Dr. Sue Head, vice president for cultural affairs and dean of character education. “We are grateful for a caring community that is concerned about the safety and well-being of our campus family. These decisions have significant impact, and in the coming days and weeks, we are prepared to work together to achieve a safe environment and help students stay on track with their academic pursuits.”

The College has decided to postpone students’ return to campus for the spring semester until further notice, depending on guidance from the CDC in regard to how the COVID-19 situation progresses. We hope to return to campus in April.  

The College campus is closed to visitors starting March 14 until further notice.

This means that all students must be checked out by a member of the residence life staff from their room by 5 p.m. on Sunday, March 15.

International students and those who do not have a permanent residence may request to stay on campus.

Online classes, work, and campus activities:

  • Plans are being made for online learning to begin the week of March 30.
  • The student work week for spring break, March 14-20, has been cancelled.
  • Chapel for Sunday, March 15, has been cancelled.
  • The Keeter Center at College of the Ozarks is closed as of Friday, March 13 at 2:00 p.m. until further notice.
  • We understand students may have many questions about convocation requirements, work hours, and chapel credits, etc. The College is working on a plan to address these questions. 

Thank you for your understanding as we seek to care for our campus family. We will communicate updates regularly, and a fact sheet with answers to common questions is being developed and will be posted to Campusweb.

Letter to Faculty, Staff and Students

As you may know, the coronavirus (COVID-19) has spread in the United States, although there have been no confirmed cases in Stone or Taney Counties. While on spring break, it is important that you remain aware of your surroundings. While the risk to our campus remains low, your risk of exposure may increase if you travel over spring break.

Travel to infected areas should be avoided, and remember to:

  • wash your hands regularly
  • avoid sharing food or drink with others
  • cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing. 

If you experience the following symptoms during break, you should report to a medical health professional before returning to campus and notify the campus clinic that you are experiencing symptoms (417-690-3399).  If you are on campus and begin to experience these symptoms, you should visit with the campus clinic.

  • Fever of 100.4
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lower respiratory symptoms

Anyone who travels to a location with a high concentration of COVID-19 (international or domestic), must complete a confidential health assessment from the Armstrong McDonald Clinic (417-690-3399) and self-isolate off campus until receiving further guidance from campus and community health officials. This also applies to individuals who have traveled through affected areas or who have had exposure to someone who has recently traveled to high risk areas.

The campus clinic and the Taney County Health Department are working closely to monitor this virus, and currently the risk level is low in the state of Missouri.  Please be sure to stay informed of the most up-to-date risk levels by clicking on the following link: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel

Letter to Faculty, Staff and Students

There are no cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) at College of the Ozarks. The College’s medical director and clinic staff are working closely with the Taney County Health Department to monitor the situation. If a case of coronavirus is confirmed on campus, the College is prepared, and you will be notified. As spring break approaches, many of you will be looking forward to a long week of rest and relaxation. For those traveling over spring break, please be advised that the Center for Disease Control is monitoring the coronavirus (COVID-19). This viral illness continues to spread, and the CDC is tracking it closely. Please monitor the CDC website: Traveler’s Health (https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/) and Advisory Warnings to stay up-to-date on your travel safety. 

To prevent the spread of any illness, the best thing you can do is to wash your hands thoroughly and often and to cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. If you feel like you have a fever and flu-like symptoms, please visit the Armstrong McDonald Clinic on campus or call 417-690-3399 to make an appointment.

Resources

The campus clinic and the Taney County Health Department are working closely to monitor this virus. Please be sure to stay informed of the most up-to-date risk levels by clicking on the following links:

Personal Hygiene and Self-Care Tips 

COVID-19 is a specialized strain of coronavirus, a family of viruses that includes the common cold. As during any active cold and flu season, there are some basic hygiene and preventive measures you can take in your daily routine. The CDC recommends the following basic steps: 

  • Keeping immunizations up to date, including getting an annual flu shot.
  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. 
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Covering coughs and sneezes with tissues, then throwing tissues in the trash.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces with regular household cleaning sprays or wipes.
  • Staying home when you are sick.