Official University Messages
Be safe. Be responsible.
With the fall semester upon us, I know many of you are eager for our return to campus and the Ole Miss spirit we feel when we’re together. You may have questions about the upcoming school year and how it will look, and I hope to be able to answer some of them in this letter. Whether this will be your first fully in-person Ole Miss college experience or you’re returning to face-to-face learning, events and gatherings, let’s make this the best year possible. Here’s what we anticipate the beginning of this school year will look like and how we can help keep each other healthy while on campus.
With the spread of the highly contagious COVID-19 Delta variant, we have adopted guidance from the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) and the CDC and will temporarily require masks for everyone in indoor settings on campus, regardless of vaccination status.
While this is not what we expected the Fall 2021 semester to look like, we hope this temporary policy will allow us to preserve two of our biggest priorities at Ole Miss: keeping our university community safe and helping students stay on track to earn their degrees. If we can limit the spread of COVID-19, we will be able to continue fully with in-person classroom instruction and on-campus operations. More information about the university’s Fall 2021 campus protocols is available here, including answers to frequently asked questions and contact info to address any questions that are not answered on the website.
- Tuesday, August 17, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
- Monday, August 23, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
- Wednesday, August 25, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
University departments and registered student organizations (RSOs) may plan in-person events, gatherings and extracurricular activities. All in-person events must be submitted through The ForUM and should comply with the university’s event registration policy. RSOs must attend Fall 2021 RSO Orientation to be able to register events and apply for Student Activity Fee funding from the Associated Student Body. Please see these requirements and recommendations for event planning for Fall 2021.
COVID-19 INFORMATION RESOURCES
August 4, 2021
Dear students, faculty and staff,
As the fall 2021 semester approaches, our university leadership team is excited to return to in-person learning and the full on-campus experience. While our anticipation builds, we must recognize the latest wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. A sharp spike in cases in Mississippi and nationally is being caused by the Delta variant that is highly contagious and spreading quickly.
Considering where we were this time last year, we can all be grateful for the availability of effective, safe and free vaccines. Even with vaccines, however, the recent surge is cause for concern because the Delta variant is easily transmitted. We have reviewed updated guidance and recommendations from the CDC and the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH). We have regular communications with the IHL and other universities in the system, MSDH, the City of Oxford, the local school district, and the local hospital to assess the impact on our community. These discussions further inform our decision making for expanding or reducing community intervention and mitigation strategies.
To align with the CDC and the directive from MSDH stating, “that masks be worn universally indoors for all students, faculty, staff, and visitors, regardless of vaccination status. Due to the prevalence of the highly transmissible Delta Variant, masks must be worn in all indoor facilities to mitigate the risk of infection at this time” the university is implementing the following update to campus protocols:
- Effective immediately, the university will require face coverings in indoor public spaces on campus, regardless of vaccination status. This includes public office spaces, classrooms, conference rooms and other academic spaces like laboratories and libraries. Additionally, masks will be required while traversing public spaces in residence halls, dining facilities, the Student Union, Campus Rec, and retail spaces. Masks will be required for extracurricular activities held in indoor on-campus spaces. Face coverings are not required when outdoors.
This new, temporary protocol is an evidence-based mitigation strategy which will assist us in delivering in-person learning and maintaining a full on-campus experience with the least amount of disruption. We’re optimistic that this temporary mask utilization indoors will help ensure a successful start to the school year. In fact, to have the full in-person experience, this strategy is being embraced by all eight public universities in Mississippi, as well as other SEC universities. We will evaluate this protocol daily based on how spread of the virus evolves on campus and in our community. Let me emphasize that we are implementing this temporary mitigation strategy as the least disruptive way to ensure a full campus experience.
We’re incredibly grateful to all those who are doing their part to protect themselves, their families, and others by getting vaccinated. We know that many of you who have received the vaccine will be frustrated about once again returning to masking, even if it is temporary. It is important to note that the effectiveness of vaccines against virus spread, hospitalization, and the most severe outcomes offer us the best path forward and your individual choice to be vaccinated will remain advantageous to you. Please know that when we are able to lift the temporary mask mandate for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, it is very likely that anyone who is unvaccinated will still need to wear a mask indoors, as it will be their only protection from the effects of getting the virus. We urge everyone to do their part to keep themselves and our community safe: Take advantage of the free and widely available vaccines.
Our teams continue to monitor this fluid situation daily, and we will keep you apprised of any changes to the campus protocols. Thank you for your commitment to our shared success — it will require all of us, working collectively and in alignment, to limit the spread of the virus.
Glenn F. Boyce