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College of Education and Human Sciences

USM Educator Preparation COVID-19 Updates


Update – March 26, 2020, 5:00 p.m.

The Mississippi Board of Education met in Special-Called Teleconference to address many of the issues brought about by COVID-19 including student teaching, licensure exams, and becoming a licensed educator in the state of Mississippi.

Students Entering a Licensure Program

Effective immediately, the requirement of a twenty-one (21) on the ACT or passing score on the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators is suspended for all candidates seeking admission to traditional or non-traditional (alternate route) educator preparation programs on or before December 31, 2021.

  • Students may be admitted to a traditional teacher education program (Gold Card) with a 2.75 GPA on the 44-hour pre-major core.
  • Candidates for the alternate route programs for teacher licensure (MAT or TMI) may be admitted with at least a bachelor’s degree in the area of licensure sought: at least a bachelor’s degree in any area with 18 hours of undergraduate/graduate coursework with a grade of “C” or higher in the area of licensure sought; or at least a bachelor’s degree in any area and a passing score on the appropriate Subject Area Assessment.
  • Applicants for Mississippi Department of Education licensure as educators or administrators who have completed a traditional or non-traditional (alternate route) program from an education preparation program will not be required to submit evidence of licensure testing requirements including Praxis Content, PLT, and Foundations of Reading in order to obtain a Five-Year Standard license.

Changes to Current Student Teaching

  • The requirement for 12 weeks of student teaching in a school setting has been suspended.
  • MDE will allow candidates’ virtual experiences to be counted toward the student teaching time requirement.
    • Student teachers are to continue in virtual activities through Friday, May 1st. 
    • Alternate assignments to be completed virtually are being developed by University Supervisors and will be posted in Tk20.
    • All alternate assignments and an activity log are to be uploaded into the second experience binder in Tk20.
  • Testing requirements have been suspended for all student teachers who apply for a license now through December 31, 2021.
    • If you have not taken the Praxis Content, PLT, and/or Foundations of Reading Test, you do not have to schedule the test(s).  You will be eligible for your five-year teaching license without reporting any of these scores.
    • If you have already taken all of your required tests, but did not pass one or all, you do not have to reschedule those tests. You will be eligible for your five-year teaching license without reporting any additional scores.
    • If you have already taken and passed all of the (formerly) required tests, then you have met the state’s requirements, and would be eligible for reciprocity in other states.

Further information in regards to these changes as well as information for changes to license renewal and reciprocity may be found on the Mississippi Department of Education website


Update - March 20, 2020, 2:00 p.m.

Information for Superintendents 

As you are all aware, Governor Reeves signed an executive order instructing the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) to keep all public schools closed throughout the state through April 17, 2020. While Mississippi school buildings may be closed, we know that you, along with the governor and MDE, want instruction to continue to take place. 

With that said, although no official policy has been released by the SBE at this time, The University of Southern Mississippi is staying in communication with our student teachers and advising them to stay in communication with their cooperating teacher and university supervisor.  Student teachers should adhere to ALL policies and practices implemented at the district level. Again, although schools are closed, candidates are not to assume student teaching has ended. Candidates will be expected to engage virtually as required by the districts.  We are asking our candidates to contact their host school and cooperating teacher to ascertain how they can remain involved.  If you wish for our candidates to not participate, please let us know. 

Information for University Supervisors, Cooperating Teachers, and Student Teachers 

  • Student teaching has not been officially suspended by MDE nor USM.
  • Elementary licensure student teachers are encouraged to contact their Cooperating Teachers to see how they can support their mentors, the students and their families, and their placement schools.  Alternative assignments for student teachers for the second experience will be forthcoming soon.  University Supervisors will be contacting you next week with updates on the alternative assignments.
  • Secondary/K-12 licensure student teachers have not started the second experience student teaching placements.  Alternative assignments will be sent from your University Supervisors for the second experience.  University Supervisors will be contacting you next week with updates on the alternative assignments.
  • If schools do reopen on Monday, April 20th, plans will be shared with each of you prior to that date about returning to student teaching placements.   

Information for Practicum and Observation Students 

  • Your time in P-12 schools for this semester has been suspended indefinitely.   
  • You are not required to return to your host school this semester. 
  • Your Course Instructor will be in touch with you via Canvas or email if there are alternative assignments that need to be completed. 


Update - March 19, 2020, 4:00 p.m.

Student Teachers:

At Governor Reeves' 10:00 news conference this morning (3/19/20), he announced that all P-12 schools will be closed through Friday, April 17.  At this time, no final decision has been made on the state level about the alteration of student teaching requirements.  As soon as we have information about any changes to the minimum required days in student teaching, testing requirements (Praxis, PLT, Foundations of Reading), or any other issues that have a direct impact on you this semester, we will notify our students. 


Update - March 13, 2020, 2:00 p.m.

What do Superintendents and Principals need to know about USM students on their campuses?

Student Teachers

At this time the Mississippi State Department of Health is not recommending that schools close. As such, student teachers are expected to follow the district calendar of their K-12 placement. As always, student teaching placements are at the discretion of the host district. If a superintendent, principal, or cooperating teacher should have any questions, please contact Dr. Anne Sylvest in the Educational Field Experience office (email:; office phone: 601-266-4571). 

Practicum and Observation Students

Spring Break for USM students has been extended by one week (March 16-27) to allow faculty time to transition all coursework to an online or alternate delivery method. During this extended Spring Break period, USM teacher education students will not be on your campuses for their observation or practicum field experiences. We will continue to monitor the situation during the two-week spring break period. If there are no changes in Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) or Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) recommendations, we will recommend students resume practicum and field experience activity beginning Monday, March 30, 2020. As always, practicum and field placements are at the discretion of the host district. 


Initial Response

Greetings Superintendents, Principals, Cooperating Teachers, University Supervisors, Student Teachers, Teacher Candidates, USM Educator Preparation Faculty, and all other USM and K-12 partners:

The SOLE SOURCE of updates regarding the USM Educator Preparation Program (EPP) response to coronavirus (COVID-19) will be posted at Please visit this site daily for updates.

The University of Southern Mississippi continues to actively monitor the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The safety and well-being of the University community, our K-12 partners, and the communities they serve is always our highest priority.

We are aware that your learning community is concerned about the potential exposure to COVID-19 from visitors to your campus including USM students who are completing observations, practicum hours, and student teaching. With almost 300 undergraduate students enrolled in 14 licensure programs placed in 43 districts, we want to provide a consistent source of information related to our programming.  

For all other University updates, please visit the University's official COVID-19 website,

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