A Brave Start

Brave Start Anouncements

TO: Alcorn Students, Faculty, and Staff
FROM: Ontario Wooden, Ph.D.

Provost & Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Cornelius Wooten, Ph.D.

Senior Vice President for Finance, Administrative Services, and Operations

DATE: January 17, 2022
RE: Campus Hours of Operation


On January 14, 2022, the University announced a delay in in-person instruction for the first week of classes. Although our instructional mode for the first week is remote, all campuses will operate using normal business operation hours from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. on Monday – Thursday and 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. on Friday and open for face-to-face service. The main campus library hours are Monday-Thursday (8:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m.), Friday (8:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.), Saturday (9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.), and Sunday (2:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m.).

As we continue to monitor the health and safety of our campus community, please remember that the Health and Disability Services Center, located in Rowan Hall, offers COVID-19 testing and all three vaccines — Johnson and Johnson, Moderna, and Pfizer, free of charge. Visit Health and Disability Services or call 601-877-6460 to learn more about the available COVID-19 vaccines and how to schedule an appointment.

TO: Alcorn Students, Faculty, and Staff
FROM: Ontario S. Wooden, Ph.D., Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
DATE: January 14, 2022
RE: Remote Learning


I would like to welcome you back to Alcorn State University for another exciting and productive spring semester. I hope that everyone had a restful break.

The health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff is our primary concern.

As cases of COVID-19 continue to rise and to reduce the spread of the disease on campus, Alcorn State University will delay in-person instruction for one week. Remote learning will begin on Tuesday, January 18, 2022. In-person instruction will start on Tuesday, January 25, 2022.

It is vital that all students living in residence halls move in as scheduled by the Office of Residence Life. This will be extremely helpful in establishing our campus “bubble” for COVID-19 management. A bubble allows us to limit our contact with others outside of the Alcorn community to gain greater control of the transmission of COVID-19.

Alcorn State University strongly encourages faculty, staff, and students to get the COVID-19 vaccine and booster shots.

Our Health Services team stands ready to assist in making this a smooth transition back to campus. The Health and Disability Services Center, located in Rowan Hall, offers COVID-19 testing and all three vaccines — Johnson and Johnson, Moderna, and Pfizer, free of charge. Visit Health and Disability Services or call 601-877-6460 to learn more about the available COVID-19 vaccines and how to schedule an appointment.

Students, please communicate with your professor regarding course-specific concerns.

Faculty members should contact their department chair for additional information and assistance.

If you experience any technology challenges related to remote learning, please contact the Center for Information Technology Services at 601.877.CITS (2487) or helpdesk@alcorn.

As we continue to grapple with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff are our first priority. Alcorn State University continues to monitor COVID-19 cases on our campus, the region, and the state. Student move-in is scheduled to begin on Saturday, January 15, 2022. Please check the move-in schedule provided by the Office of Residence Life. The University will begin class for the semester on Tuesday, January 18, 2022.

Masks will be required indoors and outdoors (in crowded settings or in close contact with others over a prolonged period.) We will continue to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Mississippi Department of Health guidelines and update our protocols accordingly.

The key to continuing normal operations is personal responsibility and vaccinations. We strongly encourage all faculty, staff, students, as well as student’s household and family members to continue:

  • exercising best practices of handwashing,
  • social distancing to the extent practicable; and
  • wearing face coverings.

Alcorn State University strongly encourages faculty, staff, and students to get the COVID-19 vaccine and booster shots.

The Health and Disability Services Center, located in Rowan Hall, offers COVID-19 testing and all three vaccines — Johnson and Johnson, Moderna, and Pfizer, free of charge. Visit Health and Disability Services or call 601-877-6460 to learn more about the available COVID-19 vaccines and how to schedule an appointment.

January 2, 2022

Dear Alcorn Family,

Happy New Year and welcome to Spring Semester 2022. The University will resume business operations as scheduled on Monday, January 3, 2022. Classes will start on January 18. As we continue to closely monitor local and state conditions related to COVID-19, we will provide updates. Please continue to check your email along with the University’s website and social media sites for the latest information.

Given the rise in cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, the University will extend the Brave Start 2.0 protocols that require masks indoors and outdoors regardless of vaccination status. As an additional precaution, meetings should be conducted by phone or video conferencing until such time that it is deemed appropriate to resume in-person gatherings.

To help protect the health of the Alcorn community, the University continues to strongly encourage everyone to be vaccinated and receive a booster shot. Also, please upload your vaccine and booster information to www.alcorn.edu/vaccineinfo. Vaccinations are available on-campus at the Rowan Health Services Center. To find additional available vaccine sites, visit https://www.vaccines.gov/search/.

The health and wellbeing of the University community is our top priority and we all share responsibility to remain vigilant and do our part to keep our community safe and minimize the impact of COVID-19.

Although we hoped that the pandemic would be behind us as we began the new year, I truly value your enduring commitment to our mission of providing a life-changing experience for our students. As we navigate this new challenge together, you are a vital part of making our University the extraordinary place that it continues to be for 150 years and counting. We are Alcorn.

Forever Brave,

Felecia M. Nave, PhD

Dear Alcorn State University Community,

Due to the success of our health and safety protocols as well as the steady increase in vaccination rates and decline in infections, Alcorn State University is transitioning its COVID-19 protocols to more closely align with recently announced changes by the CDC for fully vaccinated individuals.

Effective July 1, 2021, Alcorn State University will begin modifying its “Brave Start” protocols.

  • Face coverings will be optional for persons vaccinated. Face coverings will still be required inside classrooms, laboratories, studios, and in vehicles or other modes of transportation when on official University business.
  • Temperature checks will be discontinued at the campus entrances
  • Capacity limitations for indoor facilities will increase to 75%
  • Employees and students who are otherwise exposed or test positive for COVID-19 will continue to be required to quarantine (for exposure) or isolate (for positive tests).

Whereas the University is relaxing the protocols, the key to fully resuming normal operations is personal responsibility and vaccinations. We continue to strongly encourage all faculty, staff, and students to maintain good health practices and to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Nursing school students are advised that clinical settings may require proof of vaccination.

Wearing a face covering, maintaining physical distancing, and getting vaccinated are all prevention strategies to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Employees and students are urged to continue to practice these health and safety measures. Vaccinations are readily available at no cost via Campus Health Services.

Lastly, Alcorn State University’s Department of Health Services is conducting an anonymous survey to determine the percentage of students, faculty, and staff who have been vaccinated. We urge you to participate in this survey. Your participation is imperative for us to determine how soon we will be able to fully return to normal operations.

As it was at the beginning and throughout the emergence of the pandemic, it continues to be Alcorn’s intent to do all that we can to reduce the spread of the virus while providing an excellent educational experience on our campuses.

We Dare to Lead!

Alcorn State University announces updated COVID-19 guidelines

Alcorn State University is excited to welcome all of its students back to campus for the fall 2021 semester. As the University continues to evaluate changing health conditions, it remains committed to mitigating the spread of COVID-19 while ensuring a safe return to campus and the activities that make the traditional college experience so rich and rewarding.

Alcorn will continue to monitor and maintain compliance with CDC, Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH), and Institutions of Higher Learning guidelines, in addition to state and local regulations, pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the University planned to relax some of the COVID-19 protocols, due to the recent rise in cases of the COVID-19 Delta variant, the following protocols will be effective August 7, 2021.

General Brave Start Updates

. Face coverings are required for students, faculty, staff, and visitors for all in-person academic classes and class-related activities, as well as all indoor venues and events, regardless of vaccination status.

. Face coverings are strongly encouraged for outdoor venues when in small groups or in close proximity to others.
. If exposed to COVID-19, persons who are fully vaccinated will not be required to quarantine unless they are exhibiting symptoms.
. Residence Life will have a limited number of isolation/quarantine spaces for residential students. First priority for those spaces will be given to students whose home of residence is outside of a reasonable commuting distance as determined by the University.

The key to fully resuming normal operations is personal responsibility and vaccinations. We continue to strongly encourage all faculty, staff, students, as well as student’s household and family members to continue:
. exercising best practices of handwashing,
. social distancing to the extent practicable; and
. wearing face coverings.

On-Campus Walk-up Vaccinations During Move-In

The University is offering the COVID-19 vaccine for faculty, staff, undergraduate students, graduate students, and the families of those in the University community ages 18 and up, on the main campus plaza near the Student Union Building, during move-in days. No appointment is necessary.

On-Campus Vaccination by Appointment

Vaccinations are readily available at no cost via Campus Health and Disability Services. Visit Health and Disability Services

call 601-877-6460

to learn more about the available COVID-19 vaccines and how to schedule an appointment.

The University will continue to monitor the progression of the COVID-19 pandemic and make adjustments as required. Please continue to check the University’s Brave Start webpage for updates.

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we work together to keep our community safe in an ever-evolving situation.

alcorn building

What is A Brave Start?

Dear Alcorn State University Family,

Thank you for your patience and continued support as we have worked through the development of a comprehensive plan that will serve to guide our efforts to resume in-person classes for the Fall 2020 semester. It will truly be A Brave Start. We continue to monitor the progression of the COVID-19 pandemic in the local community, the state, and the nation. Although we cannot eliminate all risk associated with the virus, we are working tirelessly to design plans and take the necessary actions to mitigate risks to our Alcorn community.

I understand that there is a lot of uncertainty and fear among our students, faculty, staff, and parents. I too share in your concerns. There is so much about this situation that is beyond anyone’s control. Hence, it is vitally important that beyond what we are able to do in this plan, that we all behave as responsible citizens that are part of a bigger community. That means – Mask Up, Avoid Large Gatherings, Monitor Systems, Social Distance, and Practice Good Hand Hygiene.

Since the inception of the COVID-19 global pandemic, our guiding principles have centered around devising a structured approach that would, to the extent possible, find the critical balance between protecting the health and safety of our ASU family while simultaneously maintaining the academic integrity of the educational experience that our students expect and deserve.

During the May Board meeting, the Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning passed a resolution stating the board’s intention that all public universities make plans to resume traditional operations on their campus the Fall 2020 Semester. We will comply with the directive and have been continuously working to support the safest return possible.

The “A Brave Start” represents the University’s guide for campus preparation to start the semester. The document was constructed with broad input and robust discussions and recommendations from the ASU Safe Start Task Force, COVID-19 Task Force, Executive Leadership, community leaders, and in accordance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Mississippi Department of Health, Dr. Thomas Dobbs, the federal government and others. Additionally, the planning team lead by the Interim Provost, Dr. Keith McGee and co-chaired by Mrs. Dorothy Davis, Director of Health and Disability Services and featuring representation from the Faculty Senate, Staff Senate, Student Government Association, Student Affairs, Human Resources, Residential Life, Emergency Management, Alumni, sought input from deans, directors, department heads, students, faculty and others.

As we move toward the start of the semester and into the semester, I am asking for your understanding, patience, and flexibility. The future will continue to be filled with many unknowns that make static decision making challenging. We will do all we can to make changes quickly, with prudence and notify you more timely.

I want to personally thank all those who have worked countless hours, day and night, to keep our campus operational and to contribute to the COVID-19 fight through our knowledge and research, and to systematically plan for how we move forward together.

Felecia M. Nave
President, Alcorn State University

The safety, health, and well-being of Alcorn State University’s students, faculty, staff and the broader community are paramount. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, President Felecia M. Nave established the ASU Safe Start Task Force, co-chaired by the University’s Interim Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Keith A. McGee and Mrs. Dorothy Davis, Director of Health and Disability Services. President Nave charged the committee with developing a comprehensive protocol that would support a safe and effective campus restart for Fall 2020.

A Brave Start is an operational guide that captures the collective input of the campus community. The campus restart plan was developed with a shared governance approach by way of subcommittees made up of faculty, staff, students, and healthcare professionals. The following subcommittees were established in order to assist the co-chairs with the University’s restart plans: Academic Continuity, Finance and Business Operations, Health and Safety, Communications, Campus Life, Research Continuity, and Athletics. The subcommittees reviewed a series of questions developed by the committee and analyzed various reports, external articles as well as state, local and national data to help inform their recommendations to the President and the Executive Leadership.

On July 1, 2020, all employees returned to campus to facilitate the activities required to prepare for the return of students. Alcorn aims to open campus for instruction, through both face-to-face and online delivery. Our goal is to ensure the academic integrity of our degree programs and continue to provide a high-quality educational experience inside and outside of the classroom. This is a shared responsibility. The University understands that these dates and plans are fluid as we collectively monitor the COVID-19 situation while continuing to follow all state and federal guidance. The A Brave Start plan articulates how we anticipate realizing this goal.

Residential students will return to campus in stages. Both new and returning students will move into campus by scheduled appointments in the week leading up to the start of classes. Continue to monitor the Student Housing webpage for the most up-to-date information. We have set aside a designated number of rooms to serve as quarantine/isolation location for students who may test positive for COVID-19. Additionally, policies have been updated in the Student Code of Conduct Handbook that address our new living and learning environment. These policies include but are not limited to prohibiting loitering in residential spaces, limiting visitation, and restricting social gathering activities.

We strongly encourage all students to self-isolate for two weeks before returning to campus. Once on campus, those who test positive will be quarantined at their personal home or in designated residence hall facilities on campus. Contact tracing of those testing positive will be done by the Health Service Center. We are exploring the purchase of a contract tracing platform (i.e. Everbridge SAFETY CONNECTIONS) to assist in these efforts.

Face coverings and social distancing will be required in all indoor spaces (except bedrooms) with more than one individual and in outdoor spaces in accordance with state and MSDH guidelines. We will monitor the health environment of the campus with a daily self-screening tool that will allow for quick, effective response. Hand sanitizers and other disinfecting tools will be distributed throughout the main campus as well as the Natchez and Vicksburg campuses.

The academic calendar has been modified with a start date of August 17, 2020. After Thanksgiving, we will move to distance delivery of all final exams. We are acquiring several instructional and academic support technologies including but not limited to Zoom and Microsoft Teams to support video communications, Respondus which includes Lockdown Browser, quiz and testing support and proctoring services, Upswing virtual assistant provides coaching, online tutoring, etc. among others in support of this new teaching and learning environment. We are also exploring implementation of a laptop policy for all students.

In order to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission among communities, travel related to Alcorn business or academic programs will be limited. Out-of-state and international travel will continue to be suspended. Residential students will be allowed to remain on campus during Labor Day and encouraged not to travel on weekends.

We are in continuous dialogue internally and externally to determine the number of positive confirmations of COVID-19 at one time that would trigger a thorough review of whether ASU can safely continue to offer face-to-face instruction. We may consider alternative thresholds and implement additional protective measures as we monitor the health environments of the campus and the local Alcorn community.

In conclusion, we must all commit to maintaining the health and safety of the Alcorn community, our families, and our neighbors. We are excited to welcome people back to campus this Fall, but participating in on-campus activities will require complying with new policies and protocols. As our plan for the Fall semester continues to evolve, we will continue to update faculty, staff, students, families, and community partners. Please continue to monitor regularly www.alcorn.edu/abravestart for updates.

Commissioner of Higher Education Dr. Alfred Rankins Jr. established the Safe Start Task Force for the Mississippi public university system. The task force was charged with crafting 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. Dr. Keith A. McGee, Interim Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Mrs. Dorothy Davis, Director of Health and Disability Services served as representatives for Alcorn State University.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented disruption to all facets of our society and university operations are not excluded,” said Dr. Rankins. “Regardless of the challenges, our universities are committed to providing the best and safest educational experience possible for their students and the most productive and safest work environment for their employees. To achieve this goal, key leaders from each of the eight universities will provide valuable input through the task force.”

This pandemic continues to be a very fluid situation; thus, the recommendations from the task force are best available thought as of the submission date. Adjustments will continually be required due to the constantly evolving situation. The full document with baseline practices and recommendations can be accessed on the Mississippi Public University System Guidance for University COVID-19 Action Plans page.

As the University plans for the Fall 2020 semester, we are faced with a number of challenges: a global pandemic and growing social and political unrest nationwide. Alcorn State University continues to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and support efforts to help flatten the curve of the rate of infection while maintaining services required to deliver an exceptional education to our students, and conduct critical research in the safest manner possible.

A Brave Start articulates the operational plans that will be used to inform and guide our efforts in welcoming students back to campus for in-person instruction. We’ve attempted to be inclusive and comprehensive in our approach and capture the collective voices of our constituents. A series of town hall meetings will be scheduled to further discuss the plan with our constituents and field questions and concerns. Additionally, a series of surveys will be available to collect additional comments and recommendations from the broader community.

This document was framed around the following guiding principles:

The COVID-19 situation is a fluid and rapidly evolving set of events. We recognize there are no right or perfect approaches only those which allow us to mitigate exposure and minimize spread. We understand that the community is concerned and anxious and we are as well. We also understand that there are some members of the community who do not feel comfortable engaging in the face-to-face environment for various reasons. We acknowledge your concerns and will work with our students, faculty, and staff as best we can, given these unprecedented circumstances.

It is important that all individuals at the University understand their responsibility for personal health as well as protecting other members of the campus community. It is critical that everyone model behaviors of a good citizen and follow all guidelines in our efforts to keep the Alcorn family safe.

PSA from Dr. Tracy Cook. Mask on, wash your hands, and stay your distance!