SEPT. 4: Let's continue to be safe!

To the University community,
Prior to the beginning of the Fall 2020 semester, on Aug. 21, I issued a campus-wide moratorium on extracurricular activities. I felt strongly that, due to the potential presence of the COVID virus among our students, it was important that we move carefully in our return to campus.
This two-week moratorium period allowed us to carefully monitor campus and county infection rates, the need for student isolation and quarantine, and the level of campus compliance in the wearing of masks and following social distancing precautions. During this monitoring period we have learned two things.
  • First, social distancing and mask-wearing works! And our students, for the most part, are taking these precautions seriously.
  • Second, we have also learned how important it is for students to report symptoms to our MTSU Student Health clinic, and to work with our medical staff for testing, contact tracing, and isolation/quarantine, as needed.
When all members of our campus community take seriously their responsibilities to keep each other safe, we are best positioned to keep the coronavirus from sweeping through the campus unchecked — which would require us to discontinue all on-campus classes and move to an entirely remote learning environment.
At the same time, it is well established that activities that promote student social interaction and provide a chance to practice leadership, planning, and organizational skills are an important part of the college experience. So how can we keep the campus as safe and healthy as possible and also permit students to engage in some of the campus interactions we value?
The answer is simple. We must continue to require that everyone wear their masks and maintain social distancing. It's also vital that students work closely with MTSU Student Health in addressing symptoms, getting tested as needed, responding to their phone calls related to contact tracing and complying with all isolation and quarantine requirements.
From Tuesday, Sept. 8, through Sunday, Sept. 27, I will allow student organization meetings and activities of fewer than 50 participants. Campus space reservations will be permitted for student extracurricular activities as long as no more than 50 participants are in attendance – and all social distancing and masking requirements are strictly observed.
If we can continue to successfully follow these guidelines, I will be able to further reduce the current restrictions imposed on student activities.
We will monitor adherence to requirements continuously and, if necessary, reverse course and prohibit campus activities. However I hope I won’t have to take this action. We will especially watch for any spike emanating from the Labor Day weekend.
We appreciate your patience and commitment to helping to keep your fellow students, faculty and staff safe and healthy. We are hopeful that we will succeed in being able to keep the campus open and operational, but our ability to do so depends on our mutual efforts.
Sidney A. McPhee
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