Spring 2022 Semester Information
Please see the full details for Spring 2022 information, updates, and protocols.
Dear Faculty and Staff,
Happy New Year! I hope that you and your families were able to rest and find time to refresh for the upcoming academic semester.
We will continue to put in place layers of protection to help prevent and mitigate the spread of the virus in our community, especially as we navigate the current Omicron variant surge. While public health officials predict that the Omicron surge will be relatively short and Omicron’s symptoms are milder in vaccinated people, it is a more transmissible variant. During this surge, we are prioritizing in-person classes, and the guidelines below outline what we need to do to protect our community while keeping in-person learning and services. I appreciate your efforts to help us accomplish that.
The spring semester will remain in-person and start as scheduled on Tuesday, Jan. 18.
- Wearing masks indoors will continue to be required, and compliance will be essential as we combat the latest surge in cases.
- CDC guidance says choose masks that:
- have two or more layers,
- cover your nose and mouth,
- fit snugly,
- don’t have gaps, and
- have a nose wire.
- Research indicates that the better the mask, the better the protection. The best masks available for public use are the KN95 and KF94 masks.
- We will use C19 Ambassadors again to remind people to wear masks in public spaces.
- We are still encouraging all faculty, staff, and students to get vaccinated and boosted if eligible. Vaccination is proven to help lessen the severity of the symptoms of COVID-19 and to keep more people out of the hospital. And, initial data suggest COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters help to bolster protection against Omicron.
- The pharmacy at the Student Health Center (662-915-5279) offers FREE vaccines on a walk-up basis, no appointment necessary. The pharmacy is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., except Thursdays when it closes at 4 p.m. Find out more about on-campus and off-campus vaccinations.
If you have been exposed to COVID-19
- The CDC updated the recommended quarantine period for anyone who’s been exposed to COVID-19. See complete details of the updated CDC guidance and information from MSDH: What to Do If You Are Diagnosed with or Exposed to COVID-19 (Isolation and Quarantine).
- Note that the recommendations for quarantine are the same for people who are up-to-date with their vaccines and people who have tested positive (on a viral or PCR test) in the last 90 days.
- Students are being advised to notify their instructors if they need to quarantine or isolate because they are symptomatic and/or have tested positive for COVID-19. (You can see the letter sent to student by Vice Chancellor Pegues here.)
- Especially during the surge, please work with students who must miss class in order to follow the CDC’s and MSDH’s guidance, and recognize that some students may need to isolate longer than the recommended five days if their symptoms are not improving.
- Keep Teaching is working to update their example COVID-19 Syllabus recommendations and guidance and the information and resources developed by that group can be found here.
- Both symptomatic and asymptomatic people can get tested at the available testing sites. CDC recommends testing five days after exposure if you are asymptomatic, or as soon as you become symptomatic. See details below for specifics on how to get tested.
If you test positive for or develop symptoms of COVID-19
- Stay home.
- Faculty should notify their chair or dean so that they can work together to keep the class moving forward. Staff should notify their supervisor to let him/her know that they will be out. Supervisors will need to decide how to maintain services in their areas.
- Please don’t return to campus until you’ve completed a five-day isolation period after the first full day of symptoms, or for five days after your positive test if you never develop symptoms.
- At the end of the recommended five-day isolation period, you can resume activities if your symptoms are improving and have had no fever for 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medications). For another five days after your isolation period, you must wear a mask around others.
- If you are symptomatic and your test result is “inconclusive” or “indeterminant” please continue to isolate and get re-tested.
- Report a positive COVID-19 test to the University Health Center.
Testing is Available
- Testing and subsequent isolation if positive is an important way to limit spread of the virus.
- Get free symptomatic or asymptomatic COVID-19 testing at the University-Oxford Depot on campus Monday through Saturday. To schedule your test, text “2020” to 833-991-3009 OR click on this link.
- Call Student Health at 662-915-7274 if you need to schedule a symptomatic or asymptomatic test on campus.
- Local clinics offering COVID-19 tests are listed here, and all Mississippians can be tested for free at MSDH testing sites. Lafayette County’s MSDH testing site is at the Oxford Conference Center at 102 Ed Perry Blvd.
Limit Gatherings as we Navigate the Surge
While the coronavirus and COVID-19 are likely to persist in society for the foreseeable future, public health officials predict that the Omicron surge will be relatively short. As a mechanism to prioritize classes and limit the possibility of staff spreading the virus across offices and affecting services during the surge, please consider moving meetings to Zoom where possible for the next few weeks.
Also, to minimize the surge and its impact on operations, please hold large group meetings virtually when possible, and consider postponing non-essential gatherings or modifying them to reduce the spread. These seemingly small steps can prevent transmission of the virus, and help us prioritize in-person classes. During the surge, please consider limiting food served that might require people to remove their masks, and consider using virtual options.
CDC Isolation and Quarantine guidance:
While the coronavirus and its variants are likely to persist in our society, we can continue to combat them by working together, following public health guidance, and supporting each other. The work we do to advance knowledge, educate students, and serve our state and nation is critically important. Thank you for your commitment and hard work to move our mission forward.
Noel E. Wilkin, Ph.D.
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
Professor and Research Professor