Students all around the campus of Mississippi College have abided by the “mask up” policy since the beginning of last August. COVID-19 affected all aspects of student life, with social distancing and wearing masks both indoors and outdoors to keep everyone safe.
President Dr. Blake Thompson considered several factors when it came to deciding what fall of 2020 would look like for students coming in, and what rules needed to be put in place in order for things to be measured effectively.
Several committees were established to research and implement measures for operating MC during the COVID-19 pandemic. This included a Summer School Committee for 2020, Medical Task Force, Fall Reopening Committee, and now a Spring 2021 Committee, Summer School Committee 2021, and a Fall 2021 Committee, each of which is led by two chairs.
Last June, those chairs met weekly to discuss findings and recommendations for COVID-related procedures/policies, to which those recommendations were then voted on by the President’s Council.
A recent development has been made as Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves lifted the mask mandate for all residents, which gives everyone the chance to get back to some sort of normalcy in the world.
Many students wondered what would happen on campus now that the mask policy is lifted in the state. Being that MC is a private institution, things could have gone in multiple ways that the school sees is the best fit.
President Dr. Thompson sent out an email on March 3 stating that MC would still require students, faculty, and staff to wear a mask on campus, and all of the current safety protocols would still remain in place until the chairs of all the MC COVID-19 task force committees reviewed the most recent data.
However, in early Feb. 2021, a recommendation was made to the Task Force Chairs committee to lift the mask mandate outside. And by March 12, another email released by Dr. Thompson gave students some exciting news, which was that the mask mandate had been lifted for outside.
Dean of Students Dr. Jonathan Ambrose stated, “This recommendation was made several weeks prior to the governor lifting the mask mandate in Mississippi. The committee at MC believes that students understand the importance of physical distancing.”
MC believes that allowing students to not wear masks outside (while still socially distancing) was an important first step to take towards loosening the mental health restraints that COVID-19 has caused in everyone.
There were definitely some concerns with lifting the mandates, especially since MC has been doing an outstanding job with keeping the numbers down. However, this risk was taken at the right time, and it was needed.
MC is doing their part to stay aware of new updates. And the committee is staying mindful of new recommendations that come from the CDC, the state of Mississippi, and other organizations and will discuss new findings and recommendations and take the necessary and appropriate precautions for the MC community.