Dear faculty and staff,
As we complete another academic year, I want to share my tremendous gratitude for everything our faculty and staff have contributed to navigating the challenges of the past 15 months while continuing to meet our mission and serve our students. I also want to specifically thank all of those in our campus community who played a role in our COVID-19 planning and response efforts. We’re grateful to those who made the necessary adjustments and adaptations to ensure that our mission continued to move forward.
We have announced a return to full operations in Fall 2021. The university will operate at full capacity as a traditional, residential campus with the usual campus presence and occupancy within office and workspaces for Fall 2021. We recognize that many in our workforce have been working on campus since July 2020, and doing so safely by following our campus protocols.
Given the prolific availability of vaccines, we have reached the point to prepare for full-capacity operations on campus as they were in Fall 2019. If departments are ready to return, they can return to campus at this time. By June 7, 2021, all personnel on contract or employed for the summer are expected to return to working on campus if they have not done so already. Any exception to returning to campus workplaces by June 7, 2021, requires prior approval of the department head.
Reasonable accommodation requests may be approved for qualified employees with disabilities, and requests will be managed through Equal Opportunity & Regulatory Compliance. Telework or alternative work arrangements that were in place before the pandemic will be allowed to continue. People who are needed on campus to deliver Orientation programs and support students, services, and activities for summer school need to return as directed by their supervisor.
We know there is interest among employees whose positions may lend themselves to working remotely to understand the university’s approach to telework. The Work Strategies Task Force is working with Human Resources to update telework guidelines, and plans to release those later this summer.
Parameters and protocols, as directed by the Protocols and Parameters Task Force and approved by the Chancellor, remain in place, including a mask requirement indoors in public spaces and when in the presence of others. Mask use outdoors is optional, but encouraged by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) if you are not vaccinated. We will continue to monitor the presence of the virus in our community and follow guidance from the CDC, Mississippi State Department of Health, our health care professionals, and appropriate professional organizations as we make decisions moving forward.
From now until June 7, employees will have ample time to get vaccinated and make necessary plans for returning to their on-campus workplace. Additional details about returning, including information about additional protocols, parking decals for those who did not purchase decals this year, and any other guidance regarding work parameters will be communicated by the appropriate departments or units. Human Resources will host drop-in hours and a town hall for supervisors in May, so watch for dates and details on those programs very soon.
Those who have not yet been vaccinated can get information about vaccines on the university’s COVID-19 website. Those who are not in Mississippi can learn about vaccine availability and locations on the VaccineFinder website.
I am energized about the prospect of returning our full workforce to the campus, and I look forward to bringing our community back together in support of our mission.
Glenn F. Boyce