Dear faculty and staff,
This message offers an important update about the university’s plans to Return to Work on Campus so that we continue to fulfill our core mission of providing an extraordinary educational experience for our students and enabling them to make progress toward earning their degrees.
Our faculty and staff will begin to return to campus in phases starting today, June 15 and continue over the ensuing weeks. We have been in communication with campuswide leaders, who are charged with developing and implementing plans about the specifics of their unit’s return within guidelines set forth in the university-wide framework. This means that you can expect to hear from your supervisor or department head about the Return to Work on Campus plan that is specific to your area, and what it will mean for you.
The guidance provided to leaders includes new and modified operational parameters and protocols that will be in effect across campus, the relevant human resources policies and information about facilities that will be open. To support this phased approach, Facilities Management has already begun the process of cleaning and preparing campus buildings for the return. For the time being, the protocols do encourage supervisors to allow employees to telecommute if they can be productive and effective. Speak with your supervisor to discuss the specifics of your situation.
Underpinning all planning efforts is our commitment to the safety and well-being of our university community. In order to safeguard the health of our people, we must find ways to co-exist with the virus by taking necessary measures to maintain a safe workplace and reduce the risk of spread, consistent with guidance from:
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),
- Gov. Tate Reeves’s Safe Return executive order,
- the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning,
- Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH),
- the City of Oxford’s Serving Oxford Safely order,
- guidelines from relevant national associations (e.g., American College Health Association), and
- local health authorities.
There is a lot of information and guidance within the required and recommended steps, and I’d like to emphasize the overarching practices recommended by public health authorities that have guided us in an effort to protect the well-being of the members of our campus community:
- Engage in social distancing of six or more feet.
- Wear cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, even outdoors if you cannot maintain six feet of distance.
- Stay home when you are ill, or if other family members are ill.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Watch for key symptoms such as cough, troubled breathing, or other signs of respiratory infection.
- Monitor temperature for a fever above 100.4 degrees F (38 degrees C).
I’d like to acknowledge the incredible work of the Future Planning Task Force along with numerous people across the university who continue to plan diligently for Fall 2020. In addition, I want to emphasize that aspects of our plan will continue to evolve as we receive more direction from local, state, and federal governing bodies, and as we learn more about the virus. We recognize that this is new for all of us, and there will be challenges along the way.
As we transition from mission-critical on-campus staffing and activities to more normal levels, I appreciate everyone’s steadfast commitment — it will require all of us working collectively and in alignment to limit the spread of the virus in our community and bring our beautiful campus back to life.
Glenn F. Boyce