We are now just weeks away from the start of the fall semester and a new academic year. In the 28 years that I’ve been with the University of Mississippi, the Fall 2020 semester is sure to be like no other. Some of us are curious, and maybe a little anxious, about what our campus will look like, while others are counting down to the start of classes. To get a jumpstart on life as an Ole Miss student in the time of COVID, I want to provide you a few handy checklists.
START DEVELOPING YOUR “CAMPUS READY” HABITS NOW
Get comfortable with the Daily Symptom Checker
- Make it a daily habit to check your health status and symptoms, even if you feel healthy. The purpose of this self-checker is to help you know whether you need to seek appropriate medical care.
- If you develop symptoms or don’t feel well, please stay home and contact your local healthcare provider right away for guidance.
Practice social distancing
- Inside your home: Avoid close contact with people who are sick. If possible, maintain at least six feet between a person who is sick and other household members.
- Outside your home: Maintain at least six feet of distance between yourself and people who don’t live in your household.
- Remember: Wearing a face covering is NOT a substitute for social distancing.
Wear a face mask or cloth face covering
- The university requires students, employees and visitors to wear a face mask or cloth face covering in all indoor spaces on campus and outdoors when social distancing is not feasible. In the next few weeks, the university will share information about university-provided reusable, cloth face masks.
- As part of your countdown preparations, start the practice of wearing a mask for extended periods now. In addition to the university’s requirement, the City of Oxford requires everyone to wear a mask or face covering in businesses and restaurants other than while dining.
- Find a mask that is comfortable for you and covers both your nose and mouth. Follow CDC guidelines for wearing face coverings correctly.
Practice good hand hygiene
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
Update your cell phone number in myOleMiss (in Contact Information under My Profile)
- Now more than ever, we want to be able to communicate with you in a timely manner.
Complete the student training module via Blackboard
- In the next two weeks, we’ll launch a COVID-19 training module that all students are required to complete before returning to campus
PACKING FOR THE FALL SEMESTER? MAKE SURE TO INCLUDE THESE ITEMS
- a thermometer to take your temperature daily,
- a supply of masks or face coverings that you can wear comfortably for an entire class or longer, and
- plenty of hand sanitizer — we suggest keeping a bottle in your backpack or purse at all times.
Please remember that Oxford is a small town and certain products may be in short supply, such as hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies, when students return.
TO OUR NEWEST STUDENTS
In Student Housing, procedures are in place for the health and safety of all on-campus residents this year, including social distancing protocols; plexiglass barriers at all front desks; frequent sanitizing of public spaces, traditional hall bathrooms and high-touch surfaces; and, providing hand sanitizer in each lobby. Fall move-in will be August 15-21, and masks must be worn during move-in. Staff will be on-site to assist and answer questions. Student Housing will share additional details through direct communication to all 2020-21 residents.
CAMPUS LIFE CHECKLIST
- Get involved. Check the status of services, events, activities, and programs across campus. Be sure to check out the videos from Virtual Involvement Week, which feature panels from various student organizations as well as leadership opportunities and campus activities.
- Campus Recreation facilities and programs opened on July 13 and will be available this fall in accordance with state and local orders. Students can visit the Campus Rec website to learn about facility hours and access, program offerings, and participatory experiences.
- Student employment opportunities will be available as departments across campus, such as Campus Rec, will hire for staff positions.
We encourage all students to watch this video for answers to top-of-mind questions or review our Campus Ready Plan to familiarize yourself with health and safety protocols for our return. In addition, be on the lookout early next week for more important information to help our community stay healthy.
NOW, DO YOU THINK YOU ARE READY?
If there is one thing to take away from this letter, it is this: It is essential to our success this fall that each student practice the health and safety protocols adopted by the university. If we act responsibly on and off campus, work together (while six feet apart!), wear masks, and practice good hand hygiene, we can combat COVID-19 on our campus. We are eager for your arrival, and we’re here to help. Can’t wait to see all the ways you are going to help make this a wonderful year at Ole Miss!
Charlotte Fant Pegues, Ph.D.
Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs