Given the prolific availability of vaccines and masks, which are effective against preventing infection, spread, and severe consequences, we have returned to the on-campus experience for all students. Classrooms have returned to pre-pandemic capacities and seating configurations. Students are welcome to spread out in the available seats, if space allows.
Academics and classrooms FAQs
What is an instructor’s responsibility when a student tests positive for COVID?
We support professors who want to notify their class of positives that report having been in the classroom within 2 days of learning their positive test result, as long as they keep the patient’s information confidential. This is not to raise alarm, but to emphasize the importance of continued masking, symptom monitoring and the value/importance of getting vaccinated. The university’s contact tracing team contacts those who are identified by the individuals who test positive, including those in the classroom setting, and makes the determination of who meets the criteria for quarantine.
Note that students who are considered close contacts are not required to quarantine if they are asymptomatic AND have received a booster dose OR received 2 doses of Pfizer or Moderna within the last 6 months OR received 1 dose of J&J within the last 2 months. Students who are considered close contacts are required to quarantine if they are unvaccinated OR received 2 doses of Pfizer or Moderna more than 6 months ago OR received 1 dose of J&J more than 2 months ago. Complete guidance can be found on the University Health Center website.
Can I require vaccinations for my class?
Faculty must follow university policy on vaccinations. As a result, faculty cannot require students to be vaccinated to participate in class and cannot treat students differently based on vaccination status.
Can I determine my own mask policy for my class or my office hours?
Faculty must follow the university policy that is in place regarding masks, which currently requires masks in indoor public spaces on campus. Once the mask mandate is lifted, faculty cannot require masks in class or during office hours. Faculty may remind vaccinated students that they are welcome to wear masks if they wish, and encourage all unvaccinated students to wear a mask.
Will classrooms still have plexiglass?
Plexiglass currently installed in classroom settings will remain unless removal is specifically requested by the academic department.
What happens if a student in my class becomes sick with COVID-19?
Students who become sick with COVID or are in close contact with someone who has COVID will be treated like any other student who has contracted an illness. Faculty will not be required to reteach or deliver online the classes that have been taught in person, and students may be held responsible for the content of any missed classes. Unvaccinated individuals are still required by MSDH mandate to quarantine or isolate if infected with COVID or in close contact with someone infected with COVID.
Please see updated CDC Guidance for a shortened isolation period when infected and a shortened quarantine period when exposed. The MS State Department of Health recommends the public and providers adhere to the CDC updated guidance. See more: MSDH: What to Do If You Are Diagnosed with or Exposed to COVID-19 (Isolation and Quarantine).
Summary: People with COVID-19 should isolate for five days and if they are asymptomatic or their symptoms are resolving (without fever for 24 hours), follow that by five days of wearing a mask when around others to minimize the risk of infecting people they encounter. The CDC also updated the recommended quarantine period for anyone in the general public who is exposed to COVID-19.
The University Health Center will provide guidance regarding classrooms if a student or faculty member tests positive for COVID.
Visit the University Health Center FAQs for additional details and guidance.
What should faculty do if a student notifies them that they have been exposed to COVID-19?
Students who are asymptomatic AND have received a booster dose OR received 2 doses of Pfizer or Moderna within the last 6 months OR received 1 dose of J&J within the last 2 months do not have to quarantine. They are recommended to wear a mask around others for 10 days and consider getting tested on the 5th day after initial exposure. People who have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 3 months and recovered do not have to quarantine or get tested again as long as they do not develop new symptoms.
Students who are unvaccinated OR received 2 doses of Pfizer or Moderna more than 6 months ago OR received 1 dose of J&J more than 2 months ago must quarantine for 5 days. It is recommended that they get tested on day 5. They should also continue to wear a mask around others for an additional 5 days.
Will the university require social distancing?
We are committed to providing in-person learning and the usual array of social, on-campus experiences, so classes and activities that were face-to-face before the pandemic will be face-to-face. Classrooms and other spaces on campus are returning to pre-pandemic capacities and seating configurations. If space allows, students, faculty, and staff are welcome to spread out within the spaces being used.
What happens if a faculty member is unable to teach a class due to illness?
If a faculty member is unable to teach the class due to any illness or for any reason, they should notify their chair. The faculty member will be responsible for covering the content of the course, and should work with their chair if they are unable to do so. Switching the course to a remote or Zoom format to cover the content of a face-to-face class should not be considered an option, unless an exception is granted by the chair and approved by the dean.
Will faculty with a significant health concern be allowed to teach remotely?
Face-to-face classes will not be switched to the remote format. Faculty who have a medical condition should contact EORC to provide documentation and pursue an approved accommodation based on that medical condition. EORC will work with the chair and the faculty member to determine how the accommodation may be implemented.
Are there plans to go remote again should our hospital be overwhelmed?
The university does not have any intention to go to remote learning again. When the pandemic started, we did not know how to prevent spreading it and knew very little about the virus, so we shifted to virtual operations and sheltered in our homes as we developed protocols and planned. When those plans were completed and we realized that masks work, we started bringing people back to campus. With protocols developed, we taught more than 50% of course sections in classrooms with limited capacity. Still, we did not have vaccines.
In the spring of 2020, we offered nearly 70% of our sections in classrooms utilizing other spaces on campus. Vaccines became available in March 2021. Staff and 12-month employees were brought back to campus on June 7, 2021. We have been teaching courses on campus this summer, running summer camps, holding events, and the protocols allowed vaccinated people not to wear masks. We revised that approach to institute a mask mandate because of the spike in cases caused by the Delta variant. We are not aware of any cases of transmission on campus when protocols are followed.
Will the university continue to provide cleaning supplies?
Evidence has shown that COVID is a respiratory illness contracted by breathing it in, and the risk of contracting the virus by touch is not what was suspected at the start of the pandemic. At the same time, disinfectants, hand sanitizer and other supplies will be available across campus. Students and faculty both play a role in disinfecting and keeping surfaces in classrooms clean.
Will the academic calendar be modified?
For Spring 2022, the university will operate under the regular academic calendar, which you can review on the Office of the Registrar website.
What if a student needs an accommodation?
We have a task force developing recommendations for when accommodations are appropriate, and the parameters of those accommodations. Students requesting a medical accommodation to any of the university operations or protocols should contact Student Disability Services.
Are there plans to provide microphones in all classrooms for faculty to use with masks?
Although there was an effort to provide microphones in all classrooms for faculty to use in the fall of 2021, it turns out that they were not needed. Large classrooms contain microphones, and we now know that touch does not present a significant risk for transmission. If there is a specific need for amplification, faculty should work with their chair and dean. IT can assist if needed.
If faculty have to stay home to care for a young child who has been ordered to quarantine, how are faculty expected to handle their classes?
Faculty members who have family responsibilities that prevent them from fulfilling their teaching or other work-related responsibilities should work with their chair to use the appropriate leave and ensure that their courses are covered, as they would in other situations when a faculty member must be at home to care for a child or family member. Switching the class to remote learning is not an option.
How should faculty manage a student in class who fails to comply with mask requirements?
- An individual entering an indoor public space without a face covering will be instructed to comply with the current guidance.
- If the individual does not have a mask, one will be provided for them.
- If the individual does not comply, they can be asked to leave.
- If an individual is disruptive, belligerent, and/or refuses to comply or leave the space please follow the regular chain of command (Building Mayor, Chair, Vice Chancellor, or University Police Department, etc.) for support.
- As a last step, if the student refuses, the faculty member may dismiss the class. Faculty should treat a student who does not comply with the mask requirements as they would any unruly student in the classroom.
- A report can be submitted concerning the incident to the Office of Conflict Resolution and Student Conduct. The office will review the information to determine if a policy violation may have occurred.
If a faculty or staff member becomes infected at work, is this treated as a workers’ compensation issue?
No. Just like any other illness or disease, a case of COVID is not eligible for workers’ compensation. We are not aware of any cases that resulted from being on campus when the protocols were followed. Vaccines work, are free, have been available locally and on campus, and all faculty and staff have been urged to get vaccinated.
Will The University of Mississippi retain its grading and attendance policies for students who miss class due to a COVID-19 infection?
All absences due to illness (including COVID-19) will be treated the same. Students who become sick with COVID-19 or are in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 and need to quarantine or isolate while at school cannot expect to switch to online class delivery during their time away from an in-person class. Faculty have discretion for each course how best to keep students who are unable to attend class on track with course content. This could include providing remote access to class lectures, but this is not required.
Can faculty hold office hours via Zoom?
Faculty may use Zoom as a mechanism to conduct some office hours and meetings with students, as this was found effective and beneficial to students in some circumstances. However, faculty members must be willing to meet students in person if that is requested by the student.
Can faculty assign seats or make students spread out in the classroom?
If the classroom space allows for it, faculty can assign student seating in a way that spreads students apart within the space. Faculty can certainly use the full space available and encourage students to spread out if there is room to do so. They may not, however, require students to sit in different locations based on vaccination status or mask use.