UM Today


Spring Semester Reminders

As we begin the spring semester, it may be helpful to review key elements of the planning for the spring.

Faculty, Staff, and Graduate Instructors,

As we begin the spring semester on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, I am energized by the hope that the vaccine will bring an eventual end to the pandemic. Until that time, we will continue to observe the tried-and-true protocols ( that prevent the virus from spreading and helped us to navigate the fall semester.

Vaccine Update
We do not have the vaccine on campus. If you are eligible to receive the vaccine at this time as announced by the Mississippi Department of Health, you are encouraged to make an appointment to get the vaccine as soon as those appointments are available. ( We will continue to announce availability of vaccines from the health department and will notify you when we receive them for distribution on campus. Once we receive vaccines, our goal is to begin administering vaccines within hours of them arriving on campus. ( This plan is being developed, guided, and deployed by health professionals and a team that includes faculty, staff, and students.

Classroom Protocols
We will continue to observe 6-feet social distancing in the classrooms with all individuals wearing masks. Also, students and faculty are encouraged to wipe down surfaces that are touched during class sessions. Additional information can be found here: (

People should use the Symptom Checker and follow general health and safety protocols found here:

Instructor Supplies
Instructors teaching face-to-face who need hand sanitizer, wipes, or paper masks for their personal use in the classroom may pick up these supplies between 9:00-11:30 am or 2:00-4:30 pm in the Provost Office in the Lyceum, the Jackson Avenue Center, or the South Oxford Center south entrance.

Class Attendance
We know that attendance in class and participation in remote classes is critical to student success. Quarantine and isolation requirements can challenge participation in classes and faculty are still encouraged to work with students who must follow these public health directives. At the same time, faculty are encouraged to develop attendance policies that motivate students to attend and engage. Faculty associated with Keep Teaching have developed some options for faculty to consider. Their report can be found here:

Additional syllabus resources to assist faculty in deciding what to include on the syllabus can be found here:

If You See Someone Not Following Protocol
We will have C-19 Ambassadors in buildings to remind people of the protocols and the need to wear masks in indoor spaces and outdoors when you cannot be 6 feet from others. If you find someone not following the protocols, you can report that incident to Student Conduct ( if it is a student or the appropriate dean (if it is a faculty or staff member). Student Conduct reports can be filed here:

If an Employee or Student Discloses They Have Tested Positive for COVID-19
If an employee or student discloses they tested positive for COVID-19, resides with someone who tested positive, or has been within 6 feet or less of someone who did, you should follow these steps. If on campus, the employee or student should be discretely separated from others and sent home. If not on campus, the individual should be advised to stay at home. All employees or students should be asked to identify 1) any persons in our university community with whom they had contact with recently before the onset of symptoms, and 2) any areas of campus they visited during that time. As you engage the student or employee, show empathy but do not provide medical advice. Please advise the student or employee that they may contact the physicians at University Health Services ( for questions, including guidance on treatment and preventive measures to minimize the risk of infection to others. The telephone number for Student Health is 662-915-7274. The telephone number for Employee Health is 662-915-6550. Note that all students must report positive tests to Student Health and employees must report positive tests to Employee Health, regardless of where the test was performed.

After speaking to the student or employee, please contact the physicians at Student or Employee Health. The physicians will determine what additional precautions may be warranted, including closing an area and following up with MSDH. You should also alert Facilities Management at 662-915-7003 to determine whether any area of campus must be cleaned or disinfected.

Academic Calendar
Remember, there will not be a Spring Break and the semester will end one week earlier. This will make for a long semester for faculty, staff, and students. Faculty are encouraged to take this into consideration as they plan their assignments and exams for the semester.

Condensed Spring Schedule
Martin Luther King Jr. holiday (UM closed) will remain on the calendar for Jan. 18, 2021.

Classes will begin as originally scheduled on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021.

Spring break will be canceled to complete the semester as quickly as possible while mitigating risks associated with travel. This has been widely adopted as a best practice in the current environment by universities across the country.

Good Friday holiday (UM closed) will remain on the calendar for April 2, 2021.

Classes will end April 23, 2021, which is one week earlier than previously scheduled.

Final exams will be completed by April 30, 2021.

Faculty will remain on contract until May 15, 2021.

For more information, please see the academic calendar for Spring 2021 on the Registrar’s site:

Class of 2021 Commencement — The main ceremony and some individual ceremonies will be held Saturday, May 1, 2021. Other individual ceremonies may take place before May 1 or the day after May 1. Details about individual ceremonies will follow.

Class of 2020 Commencement — The main ceremony and some individual ceremonies will be held Saturday, May 8, 2021. Other individual ceremonies may take place before May 8. Details about individual ceremonies will follow.

I know that despite the break over the holiday, we are all experiencing pandemic fatigue. At the same time, we must remain vigilant and continue to work together to continue our activities without spreading the virus. I am looking forward to a successful spring semester.


Noel E. Wilkin, Ph.D.
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs