Safe Start Task Force presents report

Contact: Caron Blanton

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Task Force developed guidelines for opening campus this fall in a safe, effective manner

The Safe Start Task Force recently developed a plan outlining its recommendations for the policies, practices and protocols necessary for opening the campuses for the Fall semester. The plan was presented as an information item at the Board meeting held today via teleconference.

The Task Force was established recently by Commissioner of Higher Education Dr. Alfred Rankins Jr. to craft 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.

“We are facing extraordinary times in higher education due to the Coronavirus pandemic,” said Dr. Rankins. “The task force did not have the benefit of precedent to draw from while addressing multiple issues and keeping the health and safety of the campus community central in all recommendations. The task force has developed a clear roadmap for the universities.”

The report addresses Academic Continuity, Finance and Business Operations, Health and Safety Considerations, Campus Life, Research Continuity, Athletics and Communications and provides baseline practices and recommendations for IHL actions needed on each segment. The full report is posted online:

Mississippi State University Provost and Executive Vice President Dr. David Shaw served as Chair. 

“The task force had an invaluable mix of expertise that allowed us to develop baseline practices and recommendations, which will ensure all IHL institutions develop specific plans that simultaneously provide a quality education and do so in a safe and healthy manner,” said Dr. Shaw. “I commend Commissioner Rankins for his foresight in creating this task force, and ensuring we protect our students, faculty and staff. “

The members of the Safe Start Task Force included:

Alcorn State University

Dr. Keith McGee, Interim Vice President and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs

Ms. Dorothy Davis, Director of Health and Disability Services

Delta State University

Dr. Charles McAdams, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs

Dr. Michelle Roberts, Vice President of Executive Affairs and Chief of Staff

Jackson State University

Ms. Robin Pack, Executive Director for Human Resources

Dr. Carlos Wilson, Interim Director of School of Lifelong Learning

Mississippi State University

Dr. David Shaw, Provost and Executive Vice President

Dr. Regina Hyatt, Vice President for Student Affairs

Mississippi University for Women

Dr. Tammie McCoy, Professor & Dean of Nursing and Health Sciences

Mr. Jason Trufant, Director of Athletics and Recreation

Mississippi Valley State University

Dr. La Shon Brooks, Chief of Staff and Legislative Liaison

Ms. Joyce Dixon, Vice President for Business and Finance

The University of Mississippi

Mr. Larry Sparks, Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance

Dr. Charlotte Pegues, Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs

The University of Southern Mississippi

Chief Rusty Keyes, Chief of Police

Ms. Sirena Cantrell, Dean of Students

IHL Liaison

Mr. Marcus Thompson, Deputy Commissioner and Chief Administrative Officer


The situation created by the pandemic is constantly evolving and adjustments to the plan may be needed moving forward. The universities will release university-specific plans over the next few weeks.


The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.

Thursday, June 18, 2020 - 9:41 am