MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee issued the following statement Wednesday, March 11, regarding the university’s decision to extend spring break one week for students and move to remote classes upon their return as part of campus precautions in response to the new coronavirus outbreak:
We continue to closely monitor developments and updates from federal and state public health officials regarding the rapidly evolving novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, situation. As of today, MTSU has no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on campus. However, given today’s decision by the World Health Organization to declare the spread of COVID-19 as a global pandemic, we are implementing several contingency options that we feel are necessary to protect the health and safety of our university community.
SPRING BREAK EXTENDED, CLASSES TO RESUME REMOTELY
We will extend our spring break for our students by one week, through Sunday, March 22, which will allow faculty time to prepare remote instructional delivery of current on-ground classes beginning Monday, March 23. Remote delivery of these classes will continue until further notice. Information to faculty on these measures will be coming shortly from Provost Mark Byrnes.
We encourage off-campus students and students who have not returned to campus yet to remain home during this extended break and while classes are delivered remotely. However, since some on-campus students cannot easily travel home, our residence halls will remain open and our MT Dining facilities will operate on a modified schedule. Our Division of Student Affairs will reach out shortly to our students with more information on these services.
We will advise in coming days about operational hours of the James E. Walker Library and campus computer labs.
NON-ATHLETIC EVENTS CANCELED
Further, as we take these prudent measures to reduce the risk of exposure, we are canceling all events (including official university events, student events, non-university or external events, co-sponsored events and university-sponsored events) through Sunday, March 29. We are in consultation with the NCAA and Conference USA regarding our continued participation in athletic contests. We will not accept any campus event space reservations until further notice.
The Tennessee Secondary School Athletics Association tournaments — the ongoing girls’ championship and next week’s scheduled boys’ championships — in Murphy Center will continue at the discretion of its leadership.
UPDATES REGARDING EDUCATION ABROAD, UNIVERSITY TRAVEL
I have also decided to cancel the university’s participation in Education Abroad programs through May 31. I am further directing our staff to inform students currently abroad in university-sponsored programs of this cancellation and assist them with their expedient return to the U.S. Students who opt to remain abroad will do so at their own risk and will be apart from our oversight.
In addition, all non-essential official university-related travel, both outside of Tennessee and outside the country, is suspended indefinitely.
We encourage all in our community to curtail personal international travel and be mindful of domestic travel.
UNIVERSITY OFFICES REMAIN OPEN
University offices will remain open as usual, and we urge employees to take the appropriate preventive measures as described on our website, www.mtsu.edu/coronavirus. On the advice of our medical staff, anyone who has not received a flu vaccine this season should consider doing so. Also, anyone who is ill, or thinks they may be ill, should stay home from work and seek medical care as necessary.
If there are further changes in the university’s operating status based on COVID-19, our community would be notified through MTSU ALERT4U (also known as Rave Alerts) and other communication channels. Also, our coronavirus information website will be frequently updated and will be the best source for information on the university’s precautions.
Our Crisis Management Team will confer daily and continues to work closely with local and state public health officials as we review all guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Tennessee Department of Health.
We appreciate your cooperation in helping us protect our campus community.
Sidney A. McPhee