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Safe Start Task Force presents its plan for safely reopening Mississippi college campuses



University of Mississippi
University of Mississippi campus. (Photo by Fredlyfish4, CC BY-SA 4.0,

The Safe Start Task Force recently developed a plan outlining its recommendations for the policies, practices and protocols necessary for opening Mississippi’s college campuses for the fall semester.

The task force presented its plan at state Institutions of Higher Learning board meeting Thursday.

Commissioner of Higher Education Dr. Alfred Rankins Jr. established the task force 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 of the COVID-19 crisis.

“We are facing extraordinary times in higher education due to the coronavirus pandemic,” Rankins said in a statement. “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 provides baseline practices and recommendations for IHL action in the areas of academic continuity, finance and business operations, health and safety considerations, campus life, research continuity, athletics and communications.

Mississippi State University Provost and Executive Vice President Dr. David Shaw served as task force chairperson.

“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,” Shaw said. “I commend Commissioner Rankins for his foresight in creating this task force, and ensuring we protect our students, faculty and staff.”

Read the full report.

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.

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