MTSU Obelisk
Entrance to Middle Tennessee State University campus at East Main and Old Main Circle. (MTSU photo)

Middle Tennessee State University plans a return to primarily in-person instruction by Fall 2021 and its COVID-19 Task Force will engage faculty, staff and other stakeholders in January to lay out scenarios and develop recommendations, President Sidney A. McPhee announced Tuesday.

However, McPhee said, the campus will maintain its array of course types for the upcoming Spring 2021 semester, ranging from in-person to remote synchronous, and continue requirements put into place last summer mandating the wearing of face masks in campus buildings and other protective measures.

“We remain concerned about the recent surge in the pandemic in our state and (Rutherford) county and we must continue to be vigilant in our efforts to protect the health and safety of our campus,” McPhee said.

“However, with the progress made on the development and distribution of vaccines, we feel it is important to announce our intentions to our current and prospective students and begin working toward this goal for Fall 2021.”

MTSU in late April was among the first in the nation to announce it would resume some on-campus classes and operations for the Fall 2020 semester. Most universities, including MTSU, quickly pivoted to remote instruction in March during the pandemic’s first surge.

McPhee said he asked Provost Mark Byrnes, the university’s chief academic officer, to reactivate the task force that in June developed the instructional options and safety protocols that allowed about 40% of classes to resume in-person sessions for fall. MTSU reported the largest year-over-year enrollment gains this fall among the state’s locally governed institutions.

The president noted that the university’s actions for the Fall 2021 “will ultimately be guided by the advice and recommendations of federal and state health officials, just as they have been since the beginning of this global pandemic.” He also thanked the campus for its continued diligence.

“I deeply appreciate the perseverance and dedication of our students, faculty and staff, which allowed us to complete the Fall 2020 semester and poised us for a safe return when the Spring term begins Jan. 25,” McPhee said.