SEPT. 22: Spring 2021 semester beginning Jan. 25, Spring Break cancelled

To the University community,

 We are in the fifth week of the Fall 2020 semester! I deeply appreciate the hard work and thoughtful actions by our faculty, staff and administration, which has allowed us to keep our University open and running as we grapple with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We have reached this point also due to the vigilance of our students and community in following our health and safety guidelines, including the wearing of masks.

Meanwhile, as we continue to extend our efforts to mitigate COVID-19 risks on campus, our attention now must also turn to the upcoming Spring 2021 semester. Among the first matters we must consider is the Spring 2021 Academic Calendar, which must be decided upon soon so we can schedule classes and begin our priority registration process.

Based upon the recommendations of our executive leadership team, and in concurrence with our campus health officials, I have decided it is in our best interest to compress the Academic Calendar as much as possible for the Spring, much like we did for the current Fall semester. As such, we will begin classes for Spring 2021 one week later, with instruction beginning Monday, Jan. 25, and we will also cancel the 2021 Spring Break, which was set for March 8-13.

I have decided, however, to add a study day on Friday, March 12, that I hope will allow our community to take a brief pause and prepare for the final weeks of the Spring semester. We’ll suspend classes for that day, but we will keep open the James E. Walker Library and other academic resources.

We do not make these decisions lightly. However, in line with our decision to cancel the 2020 Fall Break, a condensed semester keeps our community focused on completing coursework and reduces the risk of spreading COVID-19 that could come from back-and-forth travel by our university community from Spring Break locations.

Finally, some important reminders:

  • MTSU policy continues to require all community members and visitors to wear masks while inside campus buildings.When outdoors, you should remove your mask ONLY if you can maintain a social distance of 6 feet. These requirements remain in effect, despite the recent decision by Rutherford County to suspend its mask mandate.
  • We are grateful to the students who cooperate with our contact tracing efforts and comply with the quarantine requirements that we must impose to keep the campus safe and able to operate. As a reminder, all students are expected to return calls and messages from Student Health Services, as we reach out to identify close contacts of members of our community who have tested positive.
  • Failure to cooperate with our health officials, and/or failure to observe all the restrictions of quarantine and isolation, may be grounds for campus disciplinary action, up to and including suspension. Please treat our health services and housing staff with respect and civility; they are working hard to protect you and our campus.
  • Although we have lifted some restrictions to allow student organizations to host events, we still seek to limit the density on on-campus events and also limit interaction at such events with individuals from outside our community. As a result, student organization events are limited to up to 50 individuals who must be members or advisors of the organization. Please also remember that these events must meet all social distancing requirements, including wearing masks, keeping 6 feet of distance between participants, and keeping a roster of attendees in the event we need to contact participants afterward. 
  • As has been shared previously, we also expect that social distancing guidelines are observed at any student organization events being held off campus. In an effort to keep our campus healthy and able to operate, we may take disciplinary action against groups or individuals that host events that expose our students or other community members to the COVID-19 virus.

Please continue to be safe, keep others safe and remain True Blue.

Sidney A. McPhee

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