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With more than 1,300 of its students infected with the coronavirus, the University of Missouri in Columbia said Tuesday that two students were expelled and three others suspended for violating rules meant to slow the virus' spread.

A news release said the sanctions were necessary because of flagrant violations of rules and regulations that require students who test positive for the COVID-19 virus to isolate themselves and comply with social distancing requirements.

University System President and MU Chancellor Mun Choi said the university has repeatedly stressed the importance of COVID-19 policies and regulations aimed at keeping students, faculty, staff and the community safe.

"We have seen a strong adoption of our policies and regulations," Choi said in the release. "Unfortunately, a few students have violated these policies and violated the trust of their fellow community members."

The students' names were not released. Choi said the discipline was necessary because the students "willfully put others at risk, and that is never acceptable. We will not let the actions of a few take away the opportunity for in-person learning that more than 8,000 faculty and staff have worked so hard to accomplish for the more than 30,000 MU students."

The university's COVID-19 dashboard cites 1,347 student cases of the virus since classes resumed in August. Of those, 332 cases remain active and 1,015 students have recovered.

All told, about 470 students have been referred to the Office of Student Conduct and Accountability for possible violations of COVID-19 policies, the university said. Discipline can range from a verbal reprimand to expulsion. Eleven student organizations also are under investigation. Those organizations were not named.

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