MARCH 15, 2021: Back Together this Fall!

To the University community,

Today marks the midpoint of the Spring 2021 semester! We begin by celebrating our MTSU’s Women’s Basketball Team, who captured the Conference USA Championship Saturday night by defeating Rice University in the finals in Frisco, Texas. They are heading to the NCAA Tournament and learn their opponent tonight!

Their win this weekend is yet another sign of hope and renewal. In reaching mid-semester, I am once again awed by the amazing and enormous efforts by all of you – students, faculty and staff – to protect our community during this pandemic and stay on course with our academics, research and service progress. This hard work and commitment has made possible the full return of in-person campus classes and activities for the Fall 2021 semester.

You may recall that we announced in late December our intention to fully reopen the campus for classes and events we enjoyed before the onset of the pandemic. We are encouraged by the tremendous progress made recently in vaccination efforts in the state and the nation – including those on our campus by our School of Nursing faculty and students and Student Health Services staff. President Biden announced last Thursday that he directed the states to allow all adults be eligible for vaccination by May 1. 

Our course offerings will be back to normal — primarily in-person but with selected online options. We will use the lessons we learned from teaching during the pandemic, and the technology we installed to help us enhance our academic offerings even stronger. Our residence halls will reopen as before, with both single- and double-occupancy options. The faculty, administrators and coaches in Academics, Athletics and Student Affairs are currently planning a robust return to the activities, events and games that enrich the student experience on our campus. We will be back together this fall with more resilience and vigor than ever.

Finishing Strong this Semester

While there’s light at the end of the tunnel, we must maintain our efforts to contain and control COVID-19 as we wind down the Spring semester. To that end, our campus mandates for the wearing of masks, social distancing and observing posted safety capacities in our rooms and facilities remain in place. We feel this is necessary so we can understand potential impacts that variants of the virus may pose.

However, we feel confident in our containment efforts to now allow on-campus groups to reserve spaces in campus buildings for activities, including end-of-the-year activities. Again, current COVID-19 capacities, as well as social distancing and masking requirements, apply. Food will not be permitted for these events, a necessary step we’re taking to further protect our community. Off-campus groups may also schedule space, under the same rules as on-campus groups, including that there is no food and masking/social distancing rules apply.  

Summer camps and conferences will be allowed in campus facilities, but overnight accommodations will not be allowed except by limited exception and only for academically related groups, such as the Governor’s School for the Arts. Again, masks, social distancing and capacity limits will be required.

Thank you for your continued diligence in our fight against COVID-19. Let’s finish strong for the second half of this semester! And I’m looking forward to the return of our commencement exercises to Murphy Center this May.

Sidney A. McPhee

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