#SafeReturn - Message from our Vice President

Dear MSU Students,

We are busily preparing for your return to campus this fall! We all understand Fall 2020 will be unlike any other fall semester and hope this letter will help provide you with insights about what you can expect. Importantly, for all students who plan to return to campus this fall, we are asking you to self-quarantine at your home for the 2 weeks immediately prior to your move to campus and/or Starkville. This recommendation comes from our Mississippi Department of Health Director, Dr. Thomas Dobbs. If you will self-quarantine for this period, it will greatly reduce the possibility of you being infected with COVID-19 and therefore, reduce the possibility of you spreading it to your fellow students. We understand this is a big request but ask that you please do this to help ensure our ability to have a safe return to campus.

On-Campus Experience

Your safety and well-being are of upmost importance! We have identified 7 Cowbell Well practices we expect all our students to participate in:

  • Wear a face covering. This is always required inside campus buildings and outside whenever you are not physically distanced.
  • Complete a daily self-screening. Instructions will soon be provided about our new app, Everbridge SAFETY CONNECTION. This app will facilitate daily self-screening and contact tracing.
  • Observe physical distancing. Staying 6 feet apart, even with your mask on, is a good practice. Without a mask, a minimum of 6 feet is required. Avoid large gatherings.
  • Wash your hands often. The Hail State Fight Song works well to sing as you are washing your hands for at least 20 seconds. Use of hand sanitizer is a good substitute.
  • Stay home if you feel sick. It is very, very important that you stay in your room/apartment/home if you have any COVID-19 related symptoms. Monitor your symptoms and if they continue, contact the Longest Student Health Center.
  • Practice self-care. This is a difficult time for many reasons. We understand the regular pressure that comes from being a student along with the added stressors of COVID-19, ongoing concerns around racial injustice, and the expectations for keeping yourself and others safe. Exercise, eat healthy, talk to your friends & family, and use our many campus resources.
  • Sanitize surfaces. When you enter class, grab a sanitizing wipe, and wipe down your desk and surrounding area. In your residence hall, regularly clean surfaces you and your roommate touch frequently.

Our traditional start to the fall semester, Dawg Days, will begin on August 15 and extend through August 30. A full schedule of events can be found at dawgdays.msstate.edu. You’ll find that more events will take place on the evenings and weekends and will be conducted outdoors. All student life events will require a RSVP from students via our event management system, Cowbell Connect. You can login to Cowbell Connect and view upcoming events and RSVP to attend by logging in to your MyState account. You’ll see the Cowbell Connect link on the right side of your screen.

Additionally, the Holmes Cultural Diversity Center (HCDC) will host a wide range of programming as the semester begins to assist our students in their transition to college life. HCDC and the Career Center will host their annual part-time Campus Jobs Fair virtually on Friday, August 21 from 10 am to 3 pm.

MSU’s residence halls will be open. We’ve modified our residence hall plans to help ensure that your on-campus experience is engaging, meaningful and safe. There will be enhanced cleaning protocols in place following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. You will be expected to wear a face covering in all residence hall spaces, except your room. Visitors who do not live in your building will be limited. Move-in information is being communicated to you directly with your assigned date and time. Procedures have changed from last year so be certain to thoroughly read all communications coming from Housing and Residence Life. More information is available at housing.msstate.edu.

MSU Dining will offer streamlined, in-person dining in the Marketplace at Perry, Fresh Food Company, Templeton, and the Union Food Court along with an enhanced selection of grab-and-go options in all locations. A variety of safety procedures will be in place including line queuing, cashless transactions, and physically distanced seating. Additional seating will be available outside the Union/Perry and Fresh Food Company beneath tents.

Students who have experienced financial hardship because of COVID-19 can seek support from the Student Relief Fund. Thanks to the generosity of gifts from our MSU alumni, parents, students, student organizations, and friends, we have some funding to assist students with COVID-19 related issues. Funding is available to subsidize the rental of books or the purchase of needed technology such as internet access or hotspots. Regretfully, we do not have funding available to assist with lost wages, rent, or tuition costs. Requests for assistance with the rental of books will be made available beginning August 10 via a webform at students.msstate.edu entitled “Book Voucher Request”. For any other requests related to COVID-19, please email tsl57@msstate.edu along with documentation of your need(s).

Lastly, the delivery method for each of your classes is listed on your schedule. As a reminder, those methods are F: Face-to-Face; O: Online with no set meeting days/times; Q: Hyflex; Z: Synchronous online with set meeting days/times. If you want to make changes to your schedule based upon your preference for a specific type of delivery method, please reach out to your academic advisor. Classes begin August 17 and our semester will end November 16 with final exams scheduled from November 18 to 24. We’ll celebrate commencement on Wednesday, November 25. There will be no fall break this semester.

We are very excited to you see you! In the meantime, stay safe and well! And as always, Hail State!

Regina Young Hyatt, Ph.D.

Vice President for Student Affairs

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