start date | august 17, 2020
the alcorn community is coming home this fall! the way we interact will look different, but we are still one family – one brave family working together every day to adopt a new normal on the campus we love.
alcorn leadership has considered – and will continue to evaluate and adjust - every safe pathway for our community to engage in beloved traditions. in true alcorn fashion, our team has remained focused on ambitious goals and continued improvement while staying endlessly positive. with safety and success at the forefront of the conversation, we are excited and hopeful for what’s to come!
students, faculty, and staff should re-enter campus with open minds, consideration for one another, and that same brave spirit that has always made alcorn truly special.
we will see you soon for a brave start into the 2020-2021 school year!
- message from the president
- executive summary
- ms ihl board restart guiding principles
- alcorn state university guiding principles for a brave start
dear alcorn state university family,
thank you for your patience and continued support as we have worked through the development of a comprehensive plan that will serve to guide our efforts to resume in-person classes for the fall 2020 semester. it will truly be a brave start. we continue to monitor the progression of the covid-19 pandemic in the local community, the state, and the nation. although we cannot eliminate all risk associated with the virus, we are working tirelessly to design plans and take the necessary actions to mitigate risks to our alcorn community.
i understand that there is a lot of uncertainty and fear among our students, faculty, staff, and parents. i too share in your concerns. there is so much about this situation that is beyond anyone’s control. hence, it is vitally important that beyond what we are able to do in this plan, that we all behave as responsible citizens that are part of a bigger community. that means – mask up, avoid large gatherings, monitor systems, social distance, and practice good hand hygiene.
since the inception of the covid-19 global pandemic, our guiding principles have centered around devising a structured approach that would, to the extent possible, find the critical balance between protecting the health and safety of our asu family while simultaneously maintaining the academic integrity of the educational experience that our students expect and deserve.
during the may board meeting, the mississippi board of trustees of state institutions of higher learning passed a resolution stating the board’s intention that all public universities make plans to resume traditional operations on their campus the fall 2020 semester. we will comply with the directive and have been continuously working to support the safest return possible.
the “a brave start” represents the university’s guide for campus preparation to start the semester. the document was constructed with broad input and robust discussions and recommendations from the asu safe start task force, covid-19 task force, executive leadership, community leaders, and in accordance with guidance from the centers for disease control and prevention (cdc), mississippi department of health, dr. thomas dobbs, the federal government and others. additionally, the planning team lead by the interim provost, dr. keith mcgee and co-chaired by mrs. dorothy davis, director of health and disability services and featuring representation from the faculty senate, staff senate, student government association, student affairs, human resources, residential life, emergency management, alumni, sought input from deans, directors, department heads, students, faculty and others.
as we move toward the start of the semester and into the semester, i am asking for your understanding, patience, and flexibility. the future will continue to be filled with many unknowns that make static decision making challenging. we will do all we can to make changes quickly, with prudence and notify you more timely.
i want to personally thank all those who have worked countless hours, day and night, to keep our campus operational and to contribute to the covid-19 fight through our knowledge and research, and to systematically plan for how we move forward together.
felecia m. nave
president, alcorn state university
the safety, health, and well-being of alcorn state university’s students, faculty, staff and the broader community are paramount. in response to the covid-19 pandemic, president felecia m. nave established the asu safe start task force, co-chaired by the university’s interim provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, dr. keith a. mcgee and mrs. dorothy davis, director of health and disability services. president nave charged the committee with developing a comprehensive protocol that would support a safe and effective campus restart for fall 2020.
a brave start is an operational guide that captures the collective input of the campus community. the campus restart plan was developed with a shared governance approach by way of subcommittees made up of faculty, staff, students, and healthcare professionals. the following subcommittees were established in order to assist the co-chairs with the university’s restart plans: academic continuity, finance and business operations, health and safety, communications, campus life, research continuity, and athletics. the subcommittees reviewed a series of questions developed by the committee and analyzed various reports, external articles as well as state, local and national data to help inform their recommendations to the president and the executive leadership.
on july 1, 2020, all employees returned to campus to facilitate the activities required to prepare for the return of students. alcorn aims to open campus for instruction, through both face-to-face and online delivery. our goal is to ensure the academic integrity of our degree programs and continue to provide a high-quality educational experience inside and outside of the classroom. this is a shared responsibility. the university understands that these dates and plans are fluid as we collectively monitor the covid-19 situation while continuing to follow all state and federal guidance. the a brave start plan articulates how we anticipate realizing this goal.
residential students will return to campus in stages. both new and returning students will move into campus by scheduled appointments in the week leading up to the start of classes. continue to monitor the student housing webpage for the most up-to-date information. we have set aside a designated number of rooms to serve as quarantine/isolation location for students who may test positive for covid-19. additionally, policies have been updated in the student code of conduct handbook that address our new living and learning environment. these policies include but are not limited to prohibiting loitering in residential spaces, limiting visitation, and restricting social gathering activities.
we strongly encourage all students to self-isolate for two weeks before returning to campus. once on campus, those who test positive will be quarantined at their personal home or in designated residence hall facilities on campus. contact tracing of those testing positive will be done by the health service center. we are exploring the purchase of a contract tracing platform (i.e. everbridge safety connections) to assist in these efforts.
face coverings and social distancing will be required in all indoor spaces (except bedrooms) with more than one individual and in outdoor spaces in accordance with state and msdh guidelines. we will monitor the health environment of the campus with a daily self-screening tool that will allow for quick, effective response. hand sanitizers and other disinfecting tools will be distributed throughout the main campus as well as the natchez and vicksburg campuses.
the academic calendar has been modified with a start date of august 17, 2020. after thanksgiving, we will move to distance delivery of all final exams. we are acquiring several instructional and academic support technologies including but not limited to zoom and microsoft teams to support video communications, respondus which includes lockdown browser, quiz and testing support and proctoring services, upswing virtual assistant provides coaching, online tutoring, etc. among others in support of this new teaching and learning environment. we are also exploring implementation of a laptop policy for all students.
in order to mitigate the risk of covid-19 transmission among communities, travel related to alcorn business or academic programs will be limited. out-of-state and international travel will continue to be suspended. residential students will be allowed to remain on campus during labor day and encouraged not to travel on weekends.
we are in continuous dialogue internally and externally to determine the number of positive confirmations of covid-19 at one time that would trigger a thorough review of whether asu can safely continue to offer face-to-face instruction. we may consider alternative thresholds and implement additional protective measures as we monitor the health environments of the campus and the local alcorn community.
in conclusion, we must all commit to maintaining the health and safety of the alcorn community, our families, and our neighbors. we are excited to welcome people back to campus this fall, but participating in on-campus activities will require complying with new policies and protocols. as our plan for the fall semester continues to evolve, we will continue to update faculty, staff, students, families, and community partners. please continue to monitor regularly www.pder.org/abravestart for updates.
commissioner of higher education dr. alfred rankins jr. established the safe start task force for the mississippi public university system. the task force was charged with crafting 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. dr. keith a. mcgee, interim provost and executive vice president for academic affairs and mrs. dorothy davis, director of health and disability services served as representatives for alcorn state university.
“the covid-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented disruption to all facets of our society and university operations are not excluded,” said dr. rankins. “regardless of the challenges, our universities are committed to providing the best and safest educational experience possible for their students and the most productive and safest work environment for their employees. to achieve this goal, key leaders from each of the eight universities will provide valuable input through the task force.”
this pandemic continues to be a very fluid situation; thus, the recommendations from the task force are best available thought as of the submission date. adjustments will continually be required due to the constantly evolving situation. the full document with baseline practices and recommendations can be accessed on the mississippi public university system guidance for university covid-19 action plans page.
a brave start articulates the operational plans that will be used to inform and guide our efforts in welcoming students back to campus for in-person instruction. we’ve attempted to be inclusive and comprehensive in our approach and capture the collective voices of our constituents. a series of town hall meetings will be scheduled to further discuss the plan with our constituents and field questions and concerns. additionally, a series of surveys will be available to collect additional comments and recommendations from the broader community.
this document was framed around the following guiding principles:
- alcorn will continue to deliver an exceptional, high-quality education and provide optimal services, within the unavoidable constraints of the covid-19 response. academic integrity the southern association of colleges and schools commission on colleges
- alcorn will be guided by considerations for the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and community. centers for disease control and prevention (cdc) and mississippi state department of health (msdh)
- alcorn will make evidence-based decisions driven by the data available at the time.
- alcorn will provide continuous communications as decisions are made and changes to the plans are determined. asu coronavirus (covid-19) updates and a brave start
- alcorn will comply with all directives and work in consultation with ihl in establishing safe start protocols.
the covid-19 situation is a fluid and rapidly evolving set of events. we recognize there are no right or perfect approaches only those which allow us to mitigate exposure and minimize spread. we understand that the community is concerned and anxious and we are as well. we also understand that there are some members of the community who do not feel comfortable engaging in the face-to-face environment for various reasons. we acknowledge your concerns and will work with our students, faculty, and staff as best we can, given these unprecedented circumstances.
it is important that all individuals at the university understand their responsibility for personal health as well as protecting other members of the campus community. it is critical that everyone model behaviors of a good citizen and follow all guidelines in our efforts to keep the alcorn family safe.
AUGUST 11 & 12
student virtual orientations
town hall for freshman, transfer,
classes begin - virtual
in-person instruction begins
traditional/hybrid fall courses end
fall semester ends
effective december 11
january 11, 2021
spring 2021 semester begins
all dates subject to change
dear alcorn community:
as we look forward to the opening of the fall 2020 semester, i know many of you, and your families, may have concerns about the return to campus. as we continue to closely monitor the ever-evolving covid-19 pandemic, please know our primary focus is the health and wellbeing of the alcorn community. we are committed to delivering the highest quality academic experience possible and will not compromise your safety in the process. thus, to ensure we have a safe launch to the semester, we are adjusting our return to campus schedule to allow for a phased return of students.
beginning august 17, 2020, learning will be 100% online for the first three weeks. starting on august 15, 2020, the university will phase-in the return of residential students over several weekends in a coordinated effort. the revised, gradual schedule will reduce density and ensure appropriate physical distancing, the availability of personal protective equipment and disinfection supplies, and access to proper testing capabilities for covid-19—all in accordance with mississippi institutions of higher learning (ihl) safe start guidelines and the mississippi state department of health.
the residential halls will open according to the following schedule and move-in scheduled by appointment. residential students may elect to remain home during the virtual start and return during the weekend of september 6-8, 2020. please check the residential life website for up-to-date information, including room and board updates. to schedule your move-in appointment aligned with the schedule below, please go to www.pder.org/residencelife.
- august 15-16 burrus hall, revel hall
- august 22-23 robinson hall, honors hall, natchez campus
- august 29-30 heritage village b and d
- september 6-8 heritage village a and c, lott hall
a virtual new student orientation for freshman and transfer students will be held on august 11, 2020, and repeated on august 12, 2020. virtual town hall meetings for freshman, transfer, and parents will be scheduled for august 13, 2020. information regarding new freshman and transfer orientation is available at www.pder.org/universitycollege.
departmental contact information is available on the brave start website at www.pder.org/abravestart. please do not hesitate to reach out for assistance.
as alcorn operations expand and students begin to return to campus, the university will continue to closely monitor and assess the potential spread of the virus, as well as existing policies and procedures to mitigate it. covid-19 testing of students exhibiting symptoms associated with coronavirus, or of those who have been in close contact with an infected individual, will be available. if localized outbreaks emerge, tighter restrictions and alternative learning and living modalities may need to be implemented.
in-person instruction will begin on september 9, 2020. courses will be conducted with reduced class sizes and will follow our guidelines and protocols outlined in our safe return to campus plan available on our “a brave start” webpages. courses that are scheduled as 100% online courses, will continue to be delivered virtually. we will reopen various dining options, library services, and student activities with significant restrictions in place.
the pandemic has presented unique challenges for our entire community as well as the daily operations of our campus locations. this is a moment in our history that will be defined by our patience, flexibility, and caring for one another that reflects our brave spirit. we must all do our part in maintaining a safe and healthy environment!
felecia m. nave