JULY 14: Update from President McPhee RE: COVID-19

To the University community,

As we continue to work our way through the challenges created by the coronavirus pandemic, I have asked our deans, department chairs and other campus leaders to maintain a consistent outreach to our campus community and I want to thank them for their efforts. It is important that everyone understand the significant planning and preparations that have been going on over the past few months and that you have detailed information regarding our expectations for this fall. With the start of our fall semester approximately six weeks away, I intend to communicate more frequently to help ensure a smooth transition to our new semester.

Here are some important reminders and updates that I would call to your attention.


Our Charting the Course for a Safe Return to Campus plan calls for all to wear face masks or coverings while inside campus buildings, with limited exceptions. Also, social distancing should be practiced whenever possible inside and outside of buildings.

  • Masks and coverings are required in all indoor public settings.
    • These public settings include, but are not limited to, hallways, restrooms, meeting rooms, classrooms, elevators, stairwells, common work areas, reception areas, and other public spaces.
    • Those working alone in private offices may remove their masks and coverings. Also, those working at desks in reception areas may remove their masks and coverings if their desks have a Plexiglas shield and they can maintain social distancing between visitors.
  • Students should examine their Fall 2020 class schedule carefully (see the section below on course options). If students cannot comply with the requirement to wear masks or coverings in the classroom, they should work with their academic advisors to select another course delivery option.
  • Masks and coverings are highly recommended when outdoors, along with maintaining social distancing when possible.
  • These requirements apply to all of us: Students, faculty, staff, and visitors to campus.

The University has purchased a supply of MTSU-branded masks to provide to the community, as part of the state’s Tennessee Strong initiative. We are expecting our first shipment of 20,000 masks this week and more are on order. We will provide each department with enough masks for each faculty and staff member from that first shipment. We will then will provide information on the distribution of masks to the rest of the community.

However, masks and coverings are not a substitute for social distancing. To practice social or physical distancing, stay at least 6 feet (about two arm's length) from other people who are not from your household in both indoor and outdoor spaces.


The MTSU COVID-19 Operational Task Force released recommendations for the Fall 2020 schedule of classes to adjust for proper social distancing in classrooms and additional online course options. As a result, academic departments have been redesigning and adjusting their courses for a variety of delivery methods.

For Fall 2020, courses may have changed to Web-Assisted, Remote, Hybrid, or Online during this process – or they may have stayed the same. Here’s a brief summary on these course types:

  • CONVENTIONAL COURSES: Meet on campus as usual. 
  • WEB-ASSISTED COURSES: Meet partly on-campus (at least 15 hours) and partly online.
  • REMOTE COURSES: All instruction is online. There may or may not be synchronous instruction via Zoom or other methods, so students should be available during the listed course times.
  • HYBRID COURSES: Primarily online with a limited number of meetings on campus or remote. Fewer than 15 hours on campus will be required.
  • ONLINE COURSES: All instruction is online and asynchronous (i.e., no Zoom or other meetings). Proctored exams may be required.

Click here to watch a video by Provost Byrnes about the five categories of classroom instruction for the fall; our social distancing efforts for classrooms; and our requirement to wear masks on campus: https://youtu.be/0gZJDWP_rDQ. Also, you can read more about these different course types here: https://www.mtsu.edu/registration/fall2020schedule.php.

Students need to study these changes carefully and make schedule adjustments to suit their needs; our academic advisors are standing ready to assist in finding alternate courses for your degree requirements. Billing statements have been posted and the fee payment deadline is Aug. 10.


  • Some dates have changed for fall due to challenges we’re facing with COVID-19, such as the elimination of fall break and the last day of in-person classes will be Wednesday, Nov. 25.
  • You can see these date changes, as well as all dates and deadlines for the Fall 2020 semester, in the Registration Guide found here: https://www.mtsu.edu/registration/docs/Registration_Guide_SummerFall_2020.pdf.

I was asked recently to participate in a White House summit on the reopening of schools and universities and I was proud to convey the hard work we have put forward during this crisis. Please continue to stay safe and watch our website, mtsu.edu/coronavirus, for news and updates regarding our response to this global pandemic.



Sidney A. McPhee



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