Dear students, faculty, and staff,
Throughout the pandemic, we have continuously monitored a number of data and metrics, including university and local case counts, to assess the impact of COVID-19 on our campus and implement layered prevention strategies. Additionally, we have followed directives and guidance from public health officials to adjust our protocols as needed. We are extremely grateful to each of you for the part you have played in our response to COVID-19.
Status of COVID-19
We are certainly in a different place this spring than we were spring 2020 or even spring 2021. We have robust testing, and we have safe, effective, and widely available vaccines that reduce the severity of illness and the risk of hospitalization for those infected with the coronavirus. We have developed protocols that are proven to be effective when we experience a surge in cases. We have also seen our case counts reduce significantly from the beginning of the semester to today.
Updated Public Health Guidance
In accordance with recent communications from the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH), institutions of higher learning across the state have been granted the ability to modify mitigation strategies and to utilize CDC guidance to develop strategies for their own campus.
Based on the number of cases and positivity rates in our campus community, availability of health resources, and recommendations from health professionals, we are modifying our masking requirement.
Effective Monday, Feb. 14, 2022, the university will require face coverings only in instructional areas and healthcare settings, regardless of vaccination status. This includes classrooms and other academic spaces like laboratories as well as healthcare settings such as University Health Services.
Face coverings will not be required in other public spaces such as residence halls, libraries, dining facilities, the Student Union, Campus Recreation facilities, retail spaces, offices, conference rooms or extracurricular activities held in indoor on-campus spaces.
Supporting Community Members
We recognize that some individuals may be at higher risk, have a family member they are trying to protect, may not be up-to-date on their vaccines or not eligible, or feel more comfortable wearing a mask in indoor public spaces. We ask everyone to support and respect those in our community who need to, or choose to, wear a face covering in non-required spaces.
The university continues to support faculty and staff who wish to keep additional safeguards in work spaces, including plexiglass at desks/work stations. Faculty and staff may require face coverings for visits to their private offices, as well. Additionally, we will continue to provide face coverings to requesting departments.
Continued Monitoring of Community Impact
As we have done since the onset of the pandemic, we will continue to monitor the presence of the virus on our campus and adapt, if necessary, to uphold the health and safety of our community. We remain committed to making the necessary adjustments and adaptations to ensure that we meet our mission and serve our students. I appreciate all that you have done as a member of this campus community to contribute to that commitment.
Glenn F. BoyceChancellor