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University of Mississippi unveils “Campus Ready” Plan for fall semester

Plans are in place for the University of Mississippi to welcome students back to campus in August for the start of the 2020-21 school year.

For the first time in five months, students will be allowed back in classrooms for in-person instruction, but those classrooms will look much different and some might take place in completely different settings. The campus was closed following spring break in March, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The plan is the product of extensive and exhaustive planning efforts designed to resume daily operations and return to instruction on campus safely,” Chancellor Glenn Boyce said in a statement.

On Tuesday, the University released its “Campus Ready” plan for the fall semester, including health and safety protocols as well as procedures for classrooms and other methods of instruction.

Classroom capacities will be scaled down to meet the Centers for Disease Control and national public health recommendations. Face-to-face instruction in classrooms will range from 50 to 100 percent capacity based on the limitations of each classroom used.

Other options will include hybrid, remote and online instruction. Hybrid will feature a mix of in-person instruction and the use of Zoom. Remote will use Zoom where the instructor and students are not in the same location, while online will be a course designed specifically for delivery to students who are not physically present with the instructor.

Given the space limitations necessitated by the protocols, some classroom changes and use of large spaces will be needed. Once course format and classroom assignments are complete, the University will make the information available to faculty and to every student so they can see the format for the courses in which they are enrolled. Course delivery modes will be updated in the scheduling system over the next couple of weeks. The University anticipates having all course delivery information updated in the system around July 20, according to a statement.

In the case of a COVID-19 outbreak in a classroom, that classroom will be taken “offline” for a 48-hour period to allow time for the classroom to be cleaned. All faculty and students who use that classroom will be notified, and the Mississippi State Department of Health will be responsible for contact tracing.

Masks or facial coverings will be required in all classrooms, hallways, auditoriums, instructional spaces, laboratories, common areas, shared spaces and restrooms.

Students will also be required to undergo a COVID-19 training module through Blackboard before returning to campus.

“If we cannot achieve full compliance with the protocols across our entire community, and the university experiences prolific spread of the virus, we will have no choice but to scale back on-campus operations and take more drastic measures to prevent further spread,” Boyce said. “If we all do our part to prevent the virus from spreading using the protocols, our level of activity on campus in the fall can be greater.”

On-campus dining services will be open and operate with protocols in place, including adjusted dining area seating to adhere to social distancing guidelines and local occupancy restrictions, adjusted menus and station strategies to alleviate crowding as well as strict cleaning of all contact surfaces.

The Oxford-University Transit will run campus routes this fall, but riders are required to wear masks or facial coverings when entering and using the buses. Drivers will thoroughly disinfect all contact surfaces throughout the day.

All student services will be fully operational in the fall. Events such as Fraternity and Sorority Life recruitment, programming at the Ole Miss student union, campus recreation, registered student organization activities and others will all be available this fall with appropriate protocols to mitigate virus spread.

Move-in week is still scheduled for August 15 through 21, and student housing will facilitate move-in through an appointment-based system over the seven-day period. Programs that require an early move-in timeframe are being communicated with through Student Housing, which will provide details about early arrival needs and dates.

Students will be required to wear a mask, and will be limited to no more than two guests per resident accompanying them during move-in. The number of volunteers will be significantly reduced this year, and they will not be able to assist with moving personal items. All procedures will follow social distancing and other public health guidelines.

To read the full “Campus Return” plan, visit coronavirus.olemiss.edu/campusready.

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