/Colleges and universities will resume traditional operations in the fall

Colleges and universities will resume traditional operations in the fall

The Board of Trustees of Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning voted Thursday that non-profit Mississippi News Colleges will resume “traditional operations” in the fall of 2020. This resolution was unanimously passed by the IHL Board, which governs all eight Mississippi public universities and colleges. Alfred Rankins Jr., Commissioner of Higher Learning, proposed a resolution that the board approved unanimously. Rankins read the resolution. He stated that the board urged universities to plan for the resumption of traditional operations. The board also acknowledged that adjustments might be necessary to conform to recommendations by health experts. Rankins read from the resolution that the IHL board issued a press release after the meeting. It stated that Rankins’ Safe Start Task Force was “developing a system-level strategy for starting and finishing the fall 2020 semester in a safe and effective manner.” Although the state’s coronavirus numbers aren’t declining, they have a lot of data. According to the Mississippi Department of Health, Mississippi had over 12,000 confirmed cases and 580 fatalities as of May 20. The IHL board approved extending spring break and cancelling all classes in person for the rest of the semester to stop the spread. Each institution is free to decide whether or not it will offer fall classes through the Mississippi Community College Board. Kell Smith, director for communications and legislative services at the board, stated that student safety is top priority. “Hopefully they [resume in person classes], but that will be up to each institution to decide.” Some universities already have plans for faculty members to return to work. Faculty at Delta State University will resume their work on May 26. The university has cleaned out its facilities and will give each staff member four face masks. It is encouraging virtual meetings. Other universities, such as the University of Mississippi are still pondering when faculty should return. Although the university is represented on Safe Start Task Force’s advisory committee, it created an internal task force that included administration, faculty, and staff. This task force will make recommendations regarding academic and financial planning, athletics and other topics related to reopening. I know that you are very interested in the return of faculty and staff to campus. Based on the nature and work of each unit, we will take a gradual approach. “We are currently in the midst discussions about how best to structure it, and we expect an update very soon,” said Chancellor Glenn Boyce in a message to students and faculty. Governor Tate Reeves applauded IHL for preparing for fall classes in person. Reeves stated that “we believe that the virus will return in the fall at some point, and that we have to be ready for that.” We must slow down the spread of the virus, but we can’t close down businesses. We cannot close down schools or universities for many years, and expect them not to recover.