Middle Tennessee State University will move forward with its COVID-19 preparations with a goal of resuming on-campus, in-person classes and operations in August for the Fall 2020 semester, MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee announced Thursday.
“The task before me as president … is to chart a course that will allow us to welcome our new incoming freshman class, transfers and returning students, as well as faculty and staff, to a safe and healthy campus for the new academic year,” McPhee said in a note to the university community on the day after classes concluded for the Spring 2020 semester.
He added, “Please know that our actions ultimately will be guided by the advice and recommendations of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state public health officials concerning the coronavirus.”
The pandemic forced the university to make many difficult decisions over the past few weeks, from the transition of thousands of on-ground classes to online delivery of instruction with less than two week’s notice, to the cancellation of many on-campus events and activities including of the Spring 2020 commencement exercises.
The president said University Provost Mark Byrnes is heading a task force of faculty, staff, students, alumni and community leaders that was charged by McPhee “to develop plans for a range of instructional delivery scenarios and develop recommendations on how we operate when we reopen in the fall and what we should do to adapt to this new environment.”
McPhee said the university “will act quickly, but carefully, keeping the safety of our community at the forefront of our planning.”
“While we cannot predict the future, we can prepare for the possibilities that lie ahead,” McPhee said. “Will everything be just like it once was? Unlikely, but we will be prepared to adapt and evolve so that we remain efficient, effective, and even more relevant as our nation emerges from this crisis.”
Meanwhile, the president acknowledged there will be “many questions about our plans” and that “we will address them as we learn more about the status of the virus and its impact.’
“Again, I want to emphasize that we will consider the health and welfare of our community with every decision we make,” he said. “We will be prepared to adapt should public health guidelines or orders dictate that we alter our plans.”
McPhee acknowledged the resiliency and adaptability of the university’s faculty and students and reaffirmed his belief in their abilities to adjust to an ever-evolving situation, just as the university has done in times past.
“I have no doubt that we will demonstrate that resolve once again, as we move beyond the health and financial challenges our world is facing from this horrific pandemic,” he said.