AUGUST 21: Two-week moratorium on all non-academically related campus events and activities
To our students,
As you know, the University’s two major priorities for the upcoming fall term are the health of our MTSU community and our commitment to offering classes on campus.
As students began returning to campus a few days ago, we have been carefully monitoring active COVID-19 cases that will require the student to isolate for 10 days. In turn, we then monitor students with a verified exposure to an active case, which will require quarantine of 14 days. Quarantine allows time to determine if exposure has led to contraction of the disease.
Quick action on this relatively small number of students and the subsequent quarantine of their close contacts, as well as the other COVID risk mitigations strategies that MTSU has already implemented, are all necessary to prevent a surge in cases.
We have observed that not all students are complying with both the letter and the spirit of our social distancing guidelines. Although we have stated that masks are required whenever indoors, we have also stated that when outdoors, you should remove your mask ONLY if you can maintain a social distance of six feet. Unfortunately, a small number of our students and other community members are not carefully adhering to these standards. We feel this behavior adds to the risk of new cases and is the likely source of some of our initial COVID-19 cases.
As a result, I am imposing a two-week moratorium on all non-academically related campus events and activities. Effective Saturday (Aug. 22), we will not permit student extracurricular activities, student organization meetings or events, or other in-person gatherings on campus, unless they are a part of a supervised classroom or supervised curricular or athletic activity.
Space reservations by student organizations during this two-week moratorium will be cancelled. University-sponsored extracurricular activities, including Connection Point events, are also cancelled during this period or will move to a virtual or remote activity. However, activities organized and supervised as part of the academic curriculum or directly supervised by university staff will be permitted (such as band, ensembles, athletics and rehearsals for theatrical performances).
This moratorium will be in effect through Tuesday, Sept. 8. During that time, our medical staff and senior executive team will monitor infection rates and other indicators of virus spread on the campus. By Friday, Sept. 4, we will notify the campus if the moratorium will be extended or lifted, or if additional restrictions will be required.
Our ability to engage in academically related experiences, both in and out of the classroom, are far more important than other campus functions. As a part of that prioritization, for instance, several weeks ago we agreed that non-student visitors would not be permitted in residence halls without special permission, and that events not sponsored by the University would not be permitted on the campus.
Let me be clear: With health and safety as our highest priority, if I must, I will not hesitate to move all classes to online learning if our medical staff and public health officials agree that we are not able to safely contain the spread of the virus.
We have made many careful and difficult decisions to best prepare for Monday’s start of classes. However, all of this hard work and preparation will be for naught if we do not have full cooperation of all students, faculty, and staff.
I encourage you to very carefully consider your personal decisions regarding involvement in activities, contacts with friends and family, visits to high-risk venues, and your travel plans. Please do not engage in any activity that could pose a risk to your own health, the health of others, or that could require an extended period of quarantine.
Please remember to check our website, mtsu.edu/coronavirus, for news, information, and updates on our ongoing response to the pandemic.
Sidney A. McPhee