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6/18/2020 - Jackson, Miss.

Task Force developed guidelines for opening campus this fall in a safe, effective manner

The Safe Start Task Force recently developed a plan outlining its recommendations for the policies, practices and protocols necessary for opening the campuses for the Fall semester. The plan was presented as an information item at the Board meeting held today via teleconference.

The Task Force was established recently by Commissioner of Higher Education Dr. Alfred Rankins Jr. to craft a system-level plan for starting and completing the fall 2020 semester in the safest and most effective way, so that students and universities can achieve the best possible outcomes, regardless of the challenging circumstances.

"We are facing extraordinary times in higher education due to the Coronavirus pandemic," said Dr. Rankins. "The task force did not have the benefit of precedent to draw from while addressing multiple issues and keeping the health and safety of the campus community central in all recommendations. The task force has developed a clear roadmap for the universities."

The report addresses Academic Continuity, Finance and Business Operations, Health and Safety Considerations, Campus Life, Research Continuity, Athletics and Communications and provides baseline practices and recommendations for IHL actions needed on each segment. The full report is posted online.

Mississippi State University Provost and Executive Vice President Dr. David Shaw served as Chair.

"The task force had an invaluable mix of expertise that allowed us to develop baseline practices and recommendations, which will ensure all IHL institutions develop specific plans that simultaneously provide a quality education and do so in a safe and healthy manner," said Dr. Shaw. "I commend Commissioner Rankins for his foresight in creating this task force, and ensuring we protect our students, faculty and staff."

The members of the Safe Start Task Force included:
    Alcorn State University
    Dr. Keith McGee
    Interim Vice President and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs

    Ms. Dorothy Davis
    Director of Health and Disability Services

    Delta State University
    Dr. Charles McAdams
    Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs

    Dr. Michelle Roberts
    Vice President of Executive Affairs and Chief of Staff

    Jackson State University
    Ms. Robin Pack
    Executive Director for Human Resources

    Dr. Carlos Wilson
    Interim Director of School of Lifelong Learning

    Mississippi State University
    Dr. David Shaw
    Provost and Executive Vice President

    Dr. Regina Hyatt
    Vice President for Student Affairs

    Mississippi University for Women
    Dr. Tammie McCoy
    Professor & Dean of Nursing and Health Sciences

    Mr. Jason Trufant
    Director of Athletics and Recreation

    Mississippi Valley State University
    Dr. La Shon Brooks
    Chief of Staff and Legislative Liaison

    Ms. Joyce Dixon
    Vice President for Business and Finance

    The University of Mississippi
    Mr. Larry Sparks
    Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance

    Dr. Charlotte Pegues
    Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs

    The University of Southern Mississippi
    Chief Rusty Keyes
    Chief of Police

    Ms. Sirena Cantrell
    Dean of Students

    IHL Liaison
    Mr. Marcus Thompson
    Deputy Commissioner and Chief Administrative Officer

The situation created by the pandemic is constantly evolving and adjustments to the plan may be needed moving forward. The universities will release university-specific plans over the next few weeks.


The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.

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