Mississippi College Leaders Announce Plans for Fall Return to Campus
Mississippi College leaders unveiled new strategies to address COVID-19 challenges this fall.
Details are presented in a “Strong & Courageous” plan to stress health and safety measures for the MC family as classes begin August 17.
Announcing the initiative to the Christian university family, President Blake Thompson drew insights from the book of Joshua. It tells the story of the people of Israel finally entering the Promised Land with battles to be fought.
A theme woven through the entire book of Joshua is, “Be strong and courageous.” As the university faces an uncertain future, this command from Joshua 1:9 will be the institution’s focus for the 2020-21 academic year.
“The MC family is coming out of our own time in the wilderness, a period of separation from each other, and from our beautiful campus due to the COVID-19 shutdown” Dr. Thompson said in a video distributed July 23. “While we’ll be back on campus in just a few short weeks, we will still have battles to fight.”
With MC’s nearly 5,000 students and 500 employees returning to campus, leaders crafted a comprehensive safety plan. It is based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control, the Mississippi State Department of Health, and the State of Mississippi.
A new website helps faculty, staff and students get information essential to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
“As we start the new academic year together, be strong and courageous. The same God who led the Israelites to the Promised Land and collapsed the walls of Jericho is with us now,” President Thompson said.
The MC plan goes beyond requiring protective masks on campus, emphasizing hand washings and social distancing. At the Clinton campus and MC Law in Jackson, procedures are designed to keep the campuses sanitized, spell out regulations for visitors, conduct frequent temperature checks, and much more.
Faculty and staff crafted the reopening plan. The document is subject to change as information evolves.
Serving as the campus COVID-19 coordinator, Beth Stapleton will help carry out the plan.
A longtime Spanish professor, the MC graduate is working “diligently to make sure we have protocols in place for the fall semester so that we are all safe and healthy. We are all called to be strong and courageous during this time of transition.”
The director of the McMillan Center for Education Abroad, Dr. Stapleton cannot do it alone.
Dr. Steve Martin, director of the physician assistant program, and Dr. Kimberly Sharp, dean of the School of Nursing, are offering their expertise. They are co-chairs of the Medical Crisis Response Task Force.
They monitor the latest from federal and state agencies. “The Task Force monitors the changes and incorporates them into MC’s guidelines as required,” Dr. Martin said.
Many leaders are focused on all things COVID-19 related.
At the MC Writing Center, there will be different arrangements of tables, changes in traffic flow and revised safety initiatives, says director Steve Price.
“We want everything to be safe for tutors and writers,” Price said. He and assistant director Lingshan Song consulted writing center officials nationwide. “It’s important for me that while we’re safe, we’re also still a comfortable and inviting place.”
Closing out the final two months of the spring semester, Mississippi College pivoted to online classes.
Other health measures will happen soon. Senior nursing students will complete COVID-19 antigen test training to assist with August freshmen move-in dates, Sharp said. A rolling program of immunizations will take place across campus this fall.
TJ McIntosh, a future physician from Wren, Mississippi, enrolls as an MC junior next month. While there are COVID-19 challenges, he’s eager to become an MC Choctaw. “As a new transfer, I am so excited to be coming to MC to finish out my undergraduate career.”
For more information, go to the Strong and Courageous website at mc.edu/strong