March 12, 2020 12:27:07 PM
The contents of this article have been modified since its original posting.
All eight public universities in Mississippi, including Mississippi State University and Mississippi University for Women, will extend spring break an additional week in light of the spread of COVID-19.
Classes are suspended for the week of March 16-22, according to an MSU press release. This will give faculty members time to prepare for hosting online classes or other alternative instructional methods.
While events sponsored by MSU and official student groups are cancelled, the residence halls and dining facilities will remain open for students on campus.
"Our primary responsibility is to safeguard our students, faculty, and staff during this health crisis," said MSU President Mark E. Keenum in a prepared statement. "At this juncture, as COVID-19 is now a growing reality in Mississippi, this course of action is prudent and provides us the best opportunity to make the transitions necessary to most effectively meet our educational responsibilities as well."
An MUW spokesperson confirmed classes at The W are suspended next week. The university is expected to make its own announcement in a press release Thursday afternoon.
The changes to the schedule are keeping with recommendations from Mississippi Board of Trustees of Institutions of Higher Learning, according to the MSU release.
"The situation remains fluid and university plans are subject to change in response to new information and recommendations received," said Commissioner of Higher Education Alfred Rankins Jr. in MSU's release. "We continue to work with the Governor's Task Force on Coronavirus and the Mississippi Department of Health as we develop our plans for the coming weeks and months. Our goal is to mitigate the risks posed by the coronavirus while maintaining the quality and integrity of the instructional programs."
When classes resume March 23, they are expected to be online or taught through other alternative methods.
East Mississippi Community College has also extended its spring break through March 23 and may resume classes online if necessary, according to a press release the college issued Thursday.
State health officials announced Mississippi's first presumptive case of COVID-19 Wednesday in Forrest County. The man who contracted the virus recently traveled from Florida and has voluntarily isolated himself at home, according to the University of Mississippi Medical Center's website.
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