MTSU Response to Coronavirus Disease 2019 Archive

APRIL 1: From President McPhee: COVID-19 Update

April 1 2020

To the University community,

I want to correct part of today’s update regarding the second on-campus student who tested positive for COVID-19. The student, who originally opted to self-quarantine in an off-campus location, later asked to be housed in a specially designated, private unit in our Womack Lane Apartments.

These are the steps we take if an on-campus student tests positive for COVID-19:

  • The student is immediately either sent to their off-campus home or apartment, or, if that is not possible, is moved to a separate on-campus apartment for quarantine, where there will be no interaction with other students, faculty, or staff. 
  • It is the university’s preference that students who need to begin self-quarantine do so at the home of their family or their permanent home, whenever possible, where they may find additional levels of support and assistance.
  • Meals will be prepared and delivered to any on-campus student required to self-quarantine.
  • The student will not be permitted to leave the apartment, eat in the dining areas, or access any other campus facilities until the time of quarantine is complete as directed by our Student Health staff. 
  • Any student who undergoes on-campus quarantine will be monitored by our MTSU Student Health staff.


Sidney A. McPhee



To the University community,

I am sharing this information as part of our commitment to share frequent updates with you regarding MTSU’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic:

Cancellation of May Commencement

  • Following most recent guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Governor Lee regarding large group meetings, we must cancel our Spring Commencement Ceremonies, originally planned for May 8 and May 9.
  • To provide every graduate with an opportunity to walk across the stage, and for their families to share the experience, our Spring graduates will be invited to march in any future commencement exercises, including our Summer ceremony set for Aug. 8 and our Winter ceremony set for Dec. 12. We will be sending additional information regarding these upcoming exercises in an email to our Spring graduates.
  • We will celebrate the achievements of our Spring graduates by preparing a special care package, which we will mail in late May along with the diploma. The package will include a mortar board with a special tassel; a unique commencement program that lists our May graduates and chronicles the year; a DVD with commencement themes and messages of support; and other surprises. We know this package will not truly fill the hole created by this cancellation, but we want to make every effort for this special class of graduates to know how proud we are of their accomplishments.

CUSTOMS Orientation for New Students Going Online

  • In keeping with the current guidance, we have chosen to cancel our traditional schedule of CUSTOMS events for Fall 2020 incoming freshmen and transfers.
  • Our CUSTOMS team will move these sessions online. We will reach out to our future students and parents, as well as our faculty and staff, as soon as we finalize our new schedule and processes for these digital events.
  • We had the opportunity last week to test one of the tools we will use in a new digital online delivery of CUSTOMS.  We replaced our Preview Day with a True Blue Spotlight digital event on March 26.  This event attracted viewers from 49 of 50 states on Facebook Live and Livestream. You can see an archived replay of the event on YouTube:

Employees Working Remotely

  • Due to Governor Lee’s recent “safer-at-home” order, I have decided to further reduce the number of on-campus employees and extend employees working remotely through May 10, 2020.

May Classes Moving to Remote Delivery

  • We are moving ahead with plans for Summer 2020 courses. Only online and remote courses will be offered during any session starting in May, although courses such as internships and practicums, thesis and dissertation research, and independent study courses, will continue as currently scheduled.
  • The summer schedule is currently being updated to reflect changes to the May sessions, and additions are possible as we prepare for the June and July sessions, so students need to periodically check online or with advisors for the latest information. 
  • Registration starts on April 6 for the approximately 1,000 course sections available this summer.
  • As of now, the Fall 2020 semester will proceed as originally planned. We will continue to monitor conditions and alter the Fall schedule as necessary.

Finally, as an update to the presence of the virus on the campus, a second on-campus student, who resided in the mostly unoccupied Kappa Delta house, tested positive for COVID-19 and is now in isolation off-campus (SEE CORRECTION ABOVE ON THIS). The university continues to take all precautions, as outlined in our last communication, to combat the transmission of the virus on the campus. We have already traced those who have had contact with this student, notified them of any potential risk and asked them to take appropriate actions. If you have concerns or questions, contact our Fraternity and Sorority Life staff at 615-898-5397.

Please check our website,, for news and information about our response to COVID-19.  I continue to be amazed at how much we have been able to accomplish and how well we are all adapting to these disruptions. The positive attitude and adaptability demonstrated by our Blue Raider family continues to serve us well.

Stay on course and remain True Blue.


Sidney A. McPhee


MARCH 30: A personal message from Dr. Sidney McPhee

March 30 2020

Over the weekend, as I was walking our dog, I looked around and realized how quiet and serene our campus looked.  For just a few moments I was able to take an emotional escape from everything going on and just enjoy the beauty around me.  Walking around the Walnut Grove loop, enjoying the sunshine, talking to the occasional student I passed along the way; I found myself somewhat contemplative and much more importantly, with each step, increasingly hopeful!

Today, we start the second week of our new normal and I wanted to take just a moment to thank you, our students and employees, for your efforts and sacrifices, as we deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.  I am truly amazed at how much we have been able to accomplish – much of which has been achieved in record time.  From our faculty who quickly turned traditional coursework into creative, challenging (and according to some reports, even fun) remote learning opportunities, to our students, who have handled a major disruption in their lives with maturity and optimism, each of you have made a difficult situation manageable.

Passing by Kirksey Old Main I thought back to the incredible challenges this campus has faced.  In its more than 108 years, our community has experienced two World Wars, the Great Depression, conflicts in Korea and Vietnam, desegregation, and the modern recession.  Each time this campus and our Blue Raider family has emerged stronger, with an even greater sense of purpose and resolve.  I have no doubt that we will prove that once again, as we move beyond the health and financial challenges our world is facing.

Why am I so optimistic?  The answer is very simple – YOU!  I am confident because I know the character and values of our faculty, students and staff.  You have great capabilities and an amazing ability to handle challenges, no matter what they are.  In the very near future, we will thrive and that is directly attributed to each of you.  Each of you are vital to our campus’s success – no matter what role you play, I can assure you that you are important!

Our Vice President for University Advancement, Joe Bales, sent a note to his staff last week that had a message I found to be very uplifting and one I want to share with you.

….in this time of social distancing (there) is the critical need we each have to remain connected (believe me when you’re in the office alone for an entire day, you understand it!).  While I’m not advocating large gatherings or getting within six feet of each other, I am convinced that we truly need social connections – so I’m going to maintain physical distancing, but I’m certainly not distancing myself (except in person) from family, friends and neighbors, or co-workers.  I urge each of you to take a few minutes each day to reach out, talk across property lines, and use the phone, SKYPE or Zoom, with those close to you.  In times like this, we need each other and others need you.

For more than two weeks, the university’s’ executive leadership team and crisis council have been meeting almost daily.  While discussions often cover a broad range of issues, everything we consider and every decision we make has been with the best interests of our university family in mind.  I would be remiss if I didn’t offer my thanks to these two groups for their remarkable dedication and commitment to MTSU.

I am confident that we will soon be through this and I’m proud to lead this remarkable community.  You have given new meaning to the phrase True Blue and I look forward to seeing you soon.  If I or any of my staff can answer questions, we’re as close as email or the phone. Thanks for all that you do.

Sidney A. McPhee