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IHL: Universities directed to make plans to resume operations in the fall

The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning passed a resolution Thursday stating the board’s intention that the campuses of all eight public universities make plans to resume traditional operations on their campuses in the fall.

“Providing a safe environment for all students and employees is paramount,” said Dr. Ford Dye, President of the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning. “We urge the universities to take prudent precautions in planning for resuming traditional operations and make adjustments as needed, based on recommendations from health experts.”

The resolution includes direction to the universities to plan to offer as many in-person classes as possible while taking into consideration guidance from the state and federal governments and the Mississippi State Department of Health.

The Safe Start Task Force, established last month by Dr. Alfred Rankins Jr., Commissioner of Higher Education, is developing a system-level plan for starting and completing the fall 2020 semester in the safest and most effective way.

“The Safe Start Task Force is working diligently to develop guidelines to help the campuses resume traditional operations in a safe manner,” Rankins said. “While this is a fluid situation and there are many unknowns at this point, our goal is to provide the best academic experience in the safest manner possible.”

The resolution recognizes plans being made may need to be modified to align with changes in recommendations from health experts.

Alcorn State officials said Thursday following the Trustee’s decision, the school’s plan would make the health and well-being of students, faculty and staff the “highest priority.”

“In light of the current health crisis, I know many students and their families are eager to learn about our plans for the upcoming fall 2020 and spring 2021 semesters at Alcorn State University,“ said Alcorn State University President, Felecia M. Nave. “The health and well-being of our students, faculty and staff is our highest priority. We are developing options based on IHL and Alcorn task forces’ guidelines with the intention of returning to campus operations in the fall, to the fullest extent prudent.”