MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee announced Thursday, March 26, that an on-campus student has been confirmed as the first case of COVID-19 on campus. A copy of his message to campus is below:
To the University community,
As COVID-19 cases rise across our area, it will also have an impact upon the MTSU family. As you know, we have been planning and preparing to respond to any case that surfaces involving a student or staff member who has been actively present on campus so that we can take proactive and protective steps to contain any spread.
As such, we feel it is important to inform you we learned Wednesday evening that one of our on-campus students tested positive for COVID-19 and is currently self-isolating. The University has reported the case to local and state public health officials and our MTSU Student Health Services team is working to support the student’s recovery. We are balancing the need to keep our community informed and the privacy rights of students, as mandated by law.
The student, who lived in a private bedroom in a Scarlett Commons apartment, became symptomatic while the University was on extended Spring Break. The student reported to Student Health Services on Tuesday, March 24, after not feeling well. Out of an abundance of caution, the student was tested and the results were positive for COVID-19.
Consistent with our response plan, all of the contacts between this individual and other students, faculty or staff were traced. Each of the students and staff identified through the tracing have already been notified and advised of their level of possible exposure and necessary precautions that they need to take, if any.
These are the steps we take if an on-campus student tests positive for COVID-19:
- The student is immediately either sent to their off-campus home or apartment, or, if that is not possible, is moved to a separate on-campus apartment for quarantine, where there will be no interaction with other students, faculty, or staff.
- It is the university’s preference that students who need to begin self-quarantine do so at the home of their family or their permanent home, whenever possible, where they may find additional levels of support and assistance.
- Meals will be prepared and delivered to any on-campus student required to self-quarantine.
- The student will not be permitted to leave the apartment, eat in the dining areas, or access any other campus facilities until the time of quarantine is complete as directed by our Student Health staff.
- Any student who undergoes on-campus quarantine will be monitored by our MTSU Student Health staff.
Our goal is to share as much information as allowed, and we will do our best to keep our coronavirus website, www.mtsu.edu/coronavirus, updated.
The Tennessee Department of Health continues to report the total number of confirmed cases in the state at https://www.tn.gov/health/cedep/ncov.html.
As we have shared repeatedly, if you have experienced the following, contact your healthcare provider (or, if you are a student, reach out to Student Health Services at www.mtsu.edu/healthservices or at 615-898-2988) concerning possible exposure to COVID-19:
- Fever of more than 100.4 degrees
- New or worsening cough
- New or worsening shortness of breath
- Close contact (six feet or less) for a duration of 10 minutes or more with someone diagnosed with COVID-19
- Recent travel to a country at a Level 3 CDC designation
MTSU has been very cautious to self-quarantine and self-isolate potential COVID-19 illness in our community, both on and off campus. If you have had an exposure to a known COVID-19 source, please note that current CDC criteria requires self-quarantine for a period of 14 days from last contact if that contact has been for a period of at least 10 minutes at a distance of less than six feet.
Although this illness has, in general, been mild in healthy adults, we want to protect our more vulnerable students, faculty, staff, and their families in this trying time.
Please remember that social distancing and proper hygiene are critical tools that we all should continue to use in helping stop the spread of the virus.
Despite our best efforts, we can expect to see more of this illness on campus and in the area in the coming weeks. We encourage the patience of all members of our community as we work together in supporting one another.
Sidney A. McPhee