Colleges and universities will resume “traditional operations” in fall of 2020, the Board of Trustees of Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning voted on Thursday.
The IHL Board, which oversees all of Mississippi’s eight public colleges and universities, passed this resolution unanimously and without discussion.
Commissioner of Higher Learning Alfred Rankins Jr. proposed a resolution to the board that said the board recognizes, “that providing a safe learning and living environment for the students it serves is paramount … [and] that providing a safe work environment for the system employees … is equally paramount.”
The resolutions goes on to state that, “all of the universities under the governance of the board shall make plans to resume traditional operations on their campuses in the Fall of 2020 to include the offering of as many in-person classes as possible.”
As they plan, higher learning administrators must also take into consideration all applicable guidance from the federal government, the Mississippi Department of Health and any executive orders from the governor that may be in effect at that time.
“The board urges the universities to take prudent precautions in planning for resuming traditional operations and the board recognizes that adjustments may be needed to align in changes with recommendations from health experts,” Rankins read from the resolution.
In March, the IHL board voted to extend Spring Break and cancel all in-person classes for the remainder of the semester in order to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.
“Maybe we will realize that the pain only comes from the affection that we have for the people that have made this place and time so beautiful, and that the memories — and many of the friends — are still within reach,” outgoing editor-in-chief Daniel Payne writes in a farewell column.
Police gathered on South Lamar in front of Hooper Hollow cottages. Local, state and federal agents are working a “critical incident,” according to the Oxford Police Department.
Lafayette County Coroner’s Office was also on the scene.
The Board of Alderman passed a resolution starting the first phase for safely recovering Oxford’s economy, which includes the opening of non-essential retail stores, office and general business, childcare services, medical and health services and pharmacies and allowing curbside pickup as soon as April 30.
Barber shops, nail and tanning salons, gyms and entertainment venues will remain closed, and restaurants will continue their current level of offering services through curbside, drive-thru and delivery options.
Those dealing with retail and other public interactions are advised to continue diligently practicing social distancing and wearing facemasks as advised by the CDC.
The first phase of the plan could not have started until after the peak of active coronavirus cases in Lafayette County, which was on April 18, according to data received by the board. In the resolution, Mayor Robyn Tannehill said this plan is reliant on safe practices released by the CDC, Department of Homeland Security, Mississippi Department of Health and input from local health care professionals.
Tannehill said that local professionals have stressed the importance of wearing face coverings in public and strict social distancing practices.
“We have received this message loud and clear from our four health care professionals and firmly believe that face coverings will open the door to more commerce, more quickly than anything else,” Tannehill wrote.
The statement also mentions its reliance on The State of Alabama’s Reopen Alabama Responsibly Plan for recovering Oxford’s economy.
Tannehill wrote that to continue the first phase of recovery successfully, daily operations will be changed greatly and require the cooperation of both local stores and customers.