MSU return to campus photo

MSU President Mark E. Keenum has announced that it is the university’s 'institutional intention' to resume more traditional operations in the fall, and the university is continuing development of specific new operating guidelines. (Photo by Megan Bean)

STARKVILLE • Mississippi State University announced that plans to resume in-person instruction for the fall 2020 semester are “on schedule and taking solid form.”

MSU President Mark E. Keenum said in a statement Tuesday the university is “fully committed” to welcoming students back to campus this fall, and specific new operating guidelines are being developed.

Keenum announced MSU’s “institutional intention” to resume more traditional operations in the fall on April 28. The university created a COVID-19 task force that is focused on fostering a safe environment for the return of MSU students, faculty, staff and visitors to campus within the confines of federal and state government guidance and the leadership of public health agencies.

That task force will produce guidelines to assist MSU across all campuses in transitioning back to more traditional campus activities. The process will include:

• Revising the academic calendar to minimize disruption.

• Focusing on spread reduction techniques including social and physical distancing, increased cleaning and disinfectant protocols across facilities and the availability and use of face coverings.

• Re-populating MSU through a robust screening strategy bolstered by testing where needed and contact tracing. Containment and isolation procedures if positive COVID-19 cases become present on campus.

• Exploring the appropriate mixture of hybrid, online and face-to-face instruction, classroom and other facilities usage and innovative class scheduling.

• Considering innovative and alternative best practices in campus life, business functions, athletics, Extension and other public outreach and campus life.

In addition to the university’s task force, the state Institutions of Higher Learning has created a Safe Start Task Force with two members from each of Mississippi’s eight public universities.

MSU Provost Dr. David Shaw will serve as chair of IHL’s task force. MSU will benefit from the expertise of other veteran higher education administrators on the IHL task force and share that information with MSU’s COVID-19 task force, Keenum said.

The University of Mississippi has also indicated that it intends to hold in-person classes this fall.

Chancellor Glenn F. Boyce said in a letter to students on April 29 that, “the university’s status for the Fall 2020 semester has not changed for all classes on the Oxford and regional campuses, and we remain committed to pursuing all possible ways to resume in-person instruction.”

Although the situation remains fluid, Boyce said university leadership will notify students about plans for the fall 2020 semester no later than June 30.

blake.alsup@journalinc.com

Twitter: @AlsupTheWriter

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