A Friday afternoon in September found members of the Lion Pride Marching Band perched on a hill overlooking Freeman Hospital, performing highlights from their game day repertoire for hospital employees and patients.

“It all started in the spring, making the transition from what we normally do,” says Don Linn, director of bands. “It became clear that we wouldn’t necessarily have the opportunity to play at football games or parades. So how do you get music to the people? From that was born the idea of the community outreach pep bands.”

The band’s performances around the community were among the many ways faculty and students adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic in order to return to face-to-face classes on campus.

Masks became a required fashion accessory. Building entrances were outfitted with hand-sanitizing stations. Classrooms were equipped with disinfectants. Courses with larger numbers of students were moved to bigger rooms to allow for social distancing. And it wasn’t uncommon to occasionally see – when the weather was nice – instructors holding class outdoors.

“In order to meet the needs of our students, faculty have employed multiple methods,” says Dr. Mikh Gunderman, president of Faculty Senate and an assistant professor of criminal justice.

The HyFlex course model employed by some instructors allowed students to attend class in person or virtually, he says, while “digital backpacks” offered tools to allow for unique and engaging learning experiences online.

“As crazy as times are right now, I’m so glad Missouri Southern is doing the most possible to keep us safe,” says Avery Brown, a sophomore respiratory therapy major. “Just simple things like teachers spraying and wiping off every desk, chair and door handle in the classroom before the next class enters helps show that the university cares about student safety.”