SEMO revises reopening plan, former Lt. Gov. Kinder weighs in on debate

Friday, May 15, 2020

Southeast Missouri State University is revising its plan for reopening the Cape Girardeau main campus.

In a message emailed to faculty Thursday, the campus “will remain closed through May 31 at the very least.”

Earlier this month, Southeast president Carlos Vargas announced a Phase I reopening would begin Monday.

The message advised faculty “even after June 1, access will only be permitted in accordance with an approved re-opening plan. No one will be allowed to show up at will.”

Faculty who desire to be on campus, along with a reason for being there, must be approved by the appropriate school dean and Southeast’s academic provost.

Former Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder of Cape Girardeau said he doesn’t agree with White House coronavirus adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci’s continued extreme caution about the reopening of schools.

“I don’t buy (the reasoning),” said Kinder, who served 24 years overall in Jefferson City as a state senator and as Missouri’s No. 2 elected official.

“K-through-12 classes should be reconvened,” said Kinder, noting Georgia and Florida have “opened up and a (coronavirus) spike has not happened.”

Kinder cites the “costs” of a continued school shutdown may be seen in rising domestic violence calls and an “80% increase in suicide hotline calls.”

California State University, with a university system of nearly 500,000 students, announced earlier this week it will not allow in-person learning this fall, opting to continue with remotely delivered classes.

Kinder hopes Southeast will not follow Cal State’s lead.

“We can’t go on this way,” said Kinder, 66.

“We should weigh Fauci’s views but he is not the decider,” Kinder said.

“(Fauci’s) modeling has been way off,” he added.

Kinder said the medical community “is not monolithic,” saying researchers at Stanford University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology do not agree with Fauci’s approach.

Kinder also notes the observable damage to area hospitals.

“Our two largest employers in Cape Girardeau County are Saint Francis Medical Center and SoutheastHEALTH.

“We set out to flatten the curve but instead we also flattened the hospitals,” Kinder said, citing low patient census, benefit cutbacks and delayed or canceled procedures reported in various ways by both local health care systems.

“Outside of New York City and for a couple of weeks in Detroit and New Orleans, there have been no overwhelmed hospitals,” Kinder added.

Kinder said it is time to strike a sensible balance between public health and an economy that is cratering.

“There may not be a vaccine until the end of next year,” Kinder said.

“America can’t wait that long (to reopen),” he added.