BOONEVILLE • Northeast Mississippi Community College’s Board of Trustees set the start date for the upcoming Fall 2020 semester for Aug. 3 at its monthly meeting on Tuesday.
Classes will conclude before Thanksgiving break, “in an attempt to protect its employees, students and community members from a potential second-round of the coronavirus while still holding a full semester of on-campus instruction.”
Students will attend the last week of regular classes Nov. 9-12 with final exams for the fall semester happening Nov. 16-19. Once students leave campus after their final exams, they will not return to Booneville for classes until Jan. 11, 2021.
“We are constantly making sure our employees, students and visitors are not in harm’s way,” Northeast President Dr. Ricky G. Ford said. “With the expected spike of the COVID-19 in late November/early December, we want our students and faculty to reach completion of the fall 2020 semester without any interruptions.”
The college’s faculty will return to campus on July 27 for InService professional development meeting in the Bonner Arnold Coliseum, while observing social distancing protocols, to prepare for the upcoming semester.
The semester was originally slated to start on Aug. 17 and conclude in mid-December, but college officials moved up the start of school in anticipation of a second round of COVID-19 toward the end of the year.
“It is difficult for our students and faculty to transition into an online format in the middle of the semester,” Ford said. “With the early start, we are anticipating the possibility of avoiding this hardship.”
Students will have the option of taking classes fully online, in a hybrid model or traditional face-to-face setting while still benefitting from Northeast’s four-day instructional week with Fridays set aside for employee professional development and faculty office hours.
They will also have the option of making a “seamless transition” to an online format from a seated classroom format mid-semester if a student becomes uncomfortable, according to Ford.
“Northeast is providing a flexibility for our students that is not available at any other colleges or universities,” Ford said.
Students participating in face-to-face instruction will see smaller class sizes, and social distancing guidelines will be enforced in the classroom.
Schedules for students taking online classes will not change for the fall semester, with classes starting on Aug. 24 and continuing through the fall with final exams slated for Nov. 30-Dec. 3.
While students will exit campus in mid-November, Northeast’s administrative offices will be open after the Thanksgiving holidays from Nov. 30-Dec. 17 with winter break starting on Dec. 18 and ending on Jan. 3, 2021.
“The health of the entire NEMCC community is our number one priority as we prepare to return to campus for face-to-face instruction in the fall,” Northeast Vice President of Instruction Dr. Michelle Baragona said. “We made this decision early to make sure that we had maximum time to prepare.”
Northeast’s residence halls and Sodexo cafeteria will be open during the fall semester, but residents will observe strict social distancing guidelines and plans are in place to quarantine those diagnosed with and exposed to COVID-19.
Members of the college’s facilities and operations department have been on campus throughout the summer disinfecting and preparing the campus for students to return to campus.