Dear students, faculty and staff,
The upheaval wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the daily rhythms of a typically spectacular spring in Oxford, and we feel the impact of all that we are missing. However, more than six weeks into life with virtual operations, the impact of the virus on our nation and the world demonstrates why this upheaval was unavoidable. Our students and faculty have made the most of the past six weeks amid the disruption, and I wish you all the best as you prepare for final exams next week.
Before this spring semester ends, I want to offer an update on our future. Our entire leadership team has been hard at work to understand what will be required for the Fall 2020 semester. We don’t have all of the answers yet, but we do want to set some expectations so that you and your families can start to plan.
At this time, the university’s status for the Fall 2020 semester has not changed for all classes on the Oxford and regional campuses, and we remain committed to pursuing all possible ways to resume in-person instruction. We continue to monitor the evolving situation and plan accordingly with preserving the safety, health and well-being of our campus community as our top priority. Any future changes to our plan will depend on how the public health emergency unfolds over the coming months. This situation remains fluid, and university leadership will notify you about our plans for Fall 2020 no later than June 30.
We also know that a lot of our students need help right now. University staff are working hard to process student applications for emergency financial aid grants. Funds are available through the federal CARES Act and the generosity of Ole Miss donors who supported Rebel Aid earlier this month. Students can apply online for an emergency assistance grant.
In addition, we know that our on-campus residents are eager to retrieve their belongings from residence halls. Starting today, the City of Oxford implemented Phase 1 of its “Serving Oxford Safely” recovery plan, which eased restrictions on some local businesses. However, restaurant dining rooms remain closed until at least May 11, and many local hotels have chosen to close during this time. We believe it is important for the university to wait until the city and its businesses are ready to accommodate a large number of visitors. As a result, we must ask for your continued patience until restrictions are lifted further. When that time comes, University Housing will unveil an appointment-based system for students to set a date to retrieve belongings.
As we move into the summer, I’d like to ask all students and faculty to keep a close eye on your university-issued email accounts while you’re away from campus. Email will be our primary method of communicating updates to you about our status over the coming weeks. We will also continue to keep the university’s COVID-19 information web page up-to-date.
I wish you well as you close out an academic year that none of us will ever forget. Please plan to join us online on Saturday, May 9 at noon CDT for a livestreamed celebration of the Class of 2020 (a link will be promoted in the coming days). In addition, we invite you to visit the new Journey to Commencement site where you’ll find incredible stories of determination, perseverance and success of our amazing students and their academic and personal journeys from Ole Miss student to Ole Miss graduate. We’ll be continually adding new stories over the next few weeks.
Stay safe and stay well,
Glenn F. Boyce