Decisions made to preserve safety of students 


Taylor Wypyski

Executive Director Dr. Germain McConnell sent his most recent COVID-19 update on Aug. 20.

Kate McElhinney, News Editor

After much careful planning, MSMS Executive Director Dr. Germain McConnell released Update 6, which regards the 2020-2021 school year and how MSMS will operate during the pandemic. The email, released on Aug. 20, explains a few minor changes to the COVID-19 Operating Plan.

“We are a residential school, and we know that the living-learning environment we have created is so important in the overall development of our students. Therefore, we want more than anything to get students back on campus,” McConnell said. “As I have stated from the very beginning, however, we must continue to follow available data to make the best possible decision about the safety of our students.”

As stated in the email, both Parents’ Day and the 2020 Club Fair will be held virtually. Additionally, the junior class will move in on Oct. 17.

“As of now, we plan to move forward with alternating juniors and seniors on campus beginning with the second quarter. As we did previously, we will continue to monitor COVID-19 infection rates,” McConnell said. 

The decision to remain virtual for the first quarter was made not long after Governor Reeves’ press conference in early August. However, Reeves’ words did not have a significant impact on McConnell’s decision.

“We discussed in our Executive Leadership Team meeting the morning of August 4 what we should do, and everyone felt it was too risky to have students move in,” McConnell said. “The press conference with Governor Reeves simply confirmed our decision to begin the year virtually for all students. . . the same decision would likely have been made outside of the Governor’s press conference.”

Although the MUW campus has had a small outbreak of COVID-19 cases recently, McConnell does not think it will greatly impact future decisions regarding the return to campus.

“I think it will be apparent if we need to modify our plans. Any decision to remain virtual only will be based on local and statewide infection rates, but our goal is to make the decision one week prior to October 17,” McConnell said. “A few isolated cases on the MUW campus will not be a sole determining factor for us at any time. We expect positive cases within the MUW/MSMS community, which is why we must take all precautions to help limit the spread if and when the cases occur.”

The MSMS Executive Leadership Team made decisions regarding the 2020-2021 school year with the health of the community in mind.

“We are very concerned about the health of everyone in our community—students and staff members,” McConnell said. “We can control for the most part what students do in our presence. What is very difficult to control is what students do when not in classes and in the residence halls. Thus, our major priority is the safety of our students.”

To ensure their return to campus, McConnell urged students to remain socially distanced and stay safe. “I want to reiterate to students how important it is to maintain safe habits now and when they return to campus,” McConnell said. “I am confident that we can follow through with our plan if all students follow proper guidelines. It will be up to all of us to hold one another accountable.”