MTSU Response to Coronavirus Disease 2019 Archive

MARCH 30: A personal message from Dr. Sidney McPhee

March 30 2020

Over the weekend, as I was walking our dog, I looked around and realized how quiet and serene our campus looked.  For just a few moments I was able to take an emotional escape from everything going on and just enjoy the beauty around me.  Walking around the Walnut Grove loop, enjoying the sunshine, talking to the occasional student I passed along the way; I found myself somewhat contemplative and much more importantly, with each step, increasingly hopeful!

Today, we start the second week of our new normal and I wanted to take just a moment to thank you, our students and employees, for your efforts and sacrifices, as we deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.  I am truly amazed at how much we have been able to accomplish – much of which has been achieved in record time.  From our faculty who quickly turned traditional coursework into creative, challenging (and according to some reports, even fun) remote learning opportunities, to our students, who have handled a major disruption in their lives with maturity and optimism, each of you have made a difficult situation manageable.

Passing by Kirksey Old Main I thought back to the incredible challenges this campus has faced.  In its more than 108 years, our community has experienced two World Wars, the Great Depression, conflicts in Korea and Vietnam, desegregation, and the modern recession.  Each time this campus and our Blue Raider family has emerged stronger, with an even greater sense of purpose and resolve.  I have no doubt that we will prove that once again, as we move beyond the health and financial challenges our world is facing.

Why am I so optimistic?  The answer is very simple – YOU!  I am confident because I know the character and values of our faculty, students and staff.  You have great capabilities and an amazing ability to handle challenges, no matter what they are.  In the very near future, we will thrive and that is directly attributed to each of you.  Each of you are vital to our campus’s success – no matter what role you play, I can assure you that you are important!

Our Vice President for University Advancement, Joe Bales, sent a note to his staff last week that had a message I found to be very uplifting and one I want to share with you.

….in this time of social distancing (there) is the critical need we each have to remain connected (believe me when you’re in the office alone for an entire day, you understand it!).  While I’m not advocating large gatherings or getting within six feet of each other, I am convinced that we truly need social connections – so I’m going to maintain physical distancing, but I’m certainly not distancing myself (except in person) from family, friends and neighbors, or co-workers.  I urge each of you to take a few minutes each day to reach out, talk across property lines, and use the phone, SKYPE or Zoom, with those close to you.  In times like this, we need each other and others need you.

For more than two weeks, the university’s’ executive leadership team and crisis council have been meeting almost daily.  While discussions often cover a broad range of issues, everything we consider and every decision we make has been with the best interests of our university family in mind.  I would be remiss if I didn’t offer my thanks to these two groups for their remarkable dedication and commitment to MTSU.

I am confident that we will soon be through this and I’m proud to lead this remarkable community.  You have given new meaning to the phrase True Blue and I look forward to seeing you soon.  If I or any of my staff can answer questions, we’re as close as email or the phone. Thanks for all that you do.

Sidney A. McPhee

MARCH 26: From President McPhee: COVID-19 Update

March 26 2020

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,, updated.

 The Tennessee Department of Health continues to report the total number of confirmed cases in the state at

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 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