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MTSU COVID-19 task force recommends suspending in-person classes at Thanksgiving

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Posted at 10:24 AM, May 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-29 11:39:57-04

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WTVF) — Middle Tennessee State University’s COVID-19 task force recommends ending in-person classes at Thanksgiving to help reduce the spread of the virus.

The task force, which was formed by MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, also recommended strict social distancing protocols and reduced classroom capacity limits when students return to campus in August.

The task force has created a series of recommendations to allow students, faculty and staff to return in some capacity and in accordance with the public health guidelines. Read the full report here.

“The task force proposes a modified reopening, in which some courses occur on-ground with social distancing, some remain online, and some are delivered in a hybrid format,” Byrnes wrote in the task force’s report submitted to McPhee on May 26. “This approach seeks to minimize risk while we continue to pursue our educational mission as best we can.”

Remote instruction will continue through the summer. McPhee recently announced a phased-in return-to-work beginning June 16 for faculty and staff who have been working remotely.

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What is COVID-19 (a.k.a. the new coronavirus?)

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. Examples include the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. COVID-19 stands for "Coronavirus disease 2019," which is when this strain of the coronavirus was discovered.

What are the symptoms?

The CDC says patients confirmed to have the 2019-nCoV reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

At this time, the CDC believes symptoms could appear as soon as two days after exposure, or as long as 14 days.

Prevention

The CDC is recommending "common sense" measures such as:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.