Margaret Stansell 0

UMKC Law Students Call For COVID-19 Information That Has Been Withheld By Administration.

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On March 25th the student body was informed of a UMKC student who tested positive for COVID19. We were told that those who had been in close contact with this student would be notified. This is the last we heard of it, until today. This morning, an article ran in the Kansas City Star which revealed that the administration had known about the student’s positive test result 4 days before the rest of us were notified. The article further revealed that the student was a law student, had been on campus at the urging of a professor despite communicating that she was not feeling well, and that a law school employee was told to “keep quiet” about the situation. This is both disgraceful and unacceptable.

After the closure of campus, many students went home to be with family, to work essential jobs, and to help with childcare, possibly exposing many more because they were never made aware of their own possible exposure. The CDC and World Health Organization have informed us that the incubation period for this virus is usually 14 days, that the virus can survive on surfaces, and that the virus can survive in the air for a period of time. This leaves much room for students to have been unknowingly exposed to this virus in various different ways during the final days of school as well as from traveling to campus to finish work, pick up books, and to meet with professors before campus was fully shut down. Students had a right to know of all the risks, and to be informed so that they may have taken the proper precautions. To take away a student’s rights to their health as well as their family’s is disrespectful and dangerous.

Students now feel blindsided, horribly misinformed, outraged and fear they may have been the one to pass the virus to their loved ones. Students have expressed that had they been told of this situation in its entirety, they would not have taken care of elderly or immunocompromised family, that they wouldn’t have worked food industry jobs, and that they would have taken precautions recommended by the CDC for those who have been exposed. This is where the administration has failed us and contributed to the spread of COVID19.

These are trying times and many students will get sick or have family get sick but to deliberately keep this important information from students is reprehensible. Students deserve to know about their exposure status. We understand the importance of privacy for those students who do get sick but disclosing the specific school that the student attended is not enough detail to out the student. This information was, however, necessary to protect students and help them make informed choices about their health and safety. Students worry that the exposure related to the law school building should have been disclosed to them, a detail which would not have required a violation of the affected student’s privacy. As a law school community, we respect that some may fear retaliation if they disclose they are sick and understand a student’s right to decide when they will go public with that information, but this does not lessen the danger posed to others during this time and through this misguided protocol to keep students in the dark.

The undersigned students and I want to express our deep disappointment in the way this situation has been handled by those UMKC officials who were notified by the student’s family. We ask that the university apologize for this mistake, agree to inform students of any further possible exposures linked to campus in appropriate detail, and to commit to doing better for their students during this pandemic.

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