Postponement of Family Weekend another change for fall semester

The weekend of family time, Columbia restaurants and high traffic through campus joins other fall traditions affected by the pandemic.

One of Ireland Shelton's first freshman experiences was a tear-filled goodbye to family. First, her younger siblings cried a lot, then she did. Without Family Weekend this fall, they will have to wait a little longer to meet again.

When MU postponed Family Weekend, it avoided attracting many families to campus and surrounding Columbia. The event conflicted with the COVID-19 policy limiting gatherings of more than 20 people, according to a press release published Aug. 27. The statement from Bill Stackman, vice chancellor for Student Affairs, said MU was "cautiously optimistic" about rescheduling the event to an unspecified date in the spring.

Shelton's family made hotel arrangements around March for the original weekend of Sept. 25. While the announcement did not surprise the family of six, and they understood the weekend's inherent health concerns, Shelton still expressed disappointment about the decision.

"I am so close to my family and I was really looking forward to them coming and getting to see them again," Shelton said.

Stackman, UM System President and MU Chancellor Mun Choi, Dean Jeffrey Zeilenga and associate dean Michelle Froese were involved in the decision. Liz McCune, associate director of MU News Bureau, said they considered several options.

"We explored the feasibility of developing in-person, smaller events with social distance guidelines, virtual events, as well either canceling or postponing the event," McCune said in an email.

Shelton's family of sports fans anticipated attending the Sept. 26 football game against Alabama. Shelton, who is from Illinois, also expressed excitement for homecoming, another MU tradition affected by the pandemic.

"I've always loved homecoming in high school, so I was really excited coming to Mizzou and hearing about all the different homecoming traditions," Shelton said.

Although her family will no longer visit later this month and some homecoming events, such as the parade, are canceled or modified, Shelton was able to join the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority and was happy about participating in their socially distant activities. However, she isn't as optimistic as MU about a spring reunion.

"I like to have a positive attitude about everything, so I'm kind of hoping that that's the case," Shelton said. "Probably won't end up happening, but I can only hope for the best."

Edited by Lucy Caile | lcaile@themaneater.com

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