All of us at Mississippi State University look forward to the start of the Fall 2021 semester. Our plans, as noted in prior announcements, were for a return to an open and traditional university environment. That type of environment remains our goal and guides our policymaking process – but is not yet fully possible in our current rapidly evolving public health situation.
The recent surge in national, regional and state COVID cases, particularly the Delta Variant, is concerning and requires that MSU closely monitor these evolving conditions and respond based on guidance from the Miss. Board of Trustees of Institutions of Higher Learning and the Miss. State Department of Health (MSDH). MSU also has sought guidance from all university stakeholders and will continue to do so.
With the beginning of the Fall 2021 semester, MSU will temporarily require masks for all indoor activities and in all indoor locations on our campuses. That includes non-personal vehicles and public transit. The only exceptions will be in private offices.
Consistent with federal public health guidance, MSDH “directs that masks be worn universally indoors for all students, faculty, staff and visitors, regardless of vaccination status. Due to the prevalence of the highly transmissible Delta Variant, masks must be worn in all indoor facilities to mitigate the risk of infection at this time.”
After the first few weeks of the Fall 2021 semester, it is our hope that MSU may be able to move to mask-optional policies if the number of cases on campus and in the community decreases, and vaccination rates improve substantially. MSU will regularly reevaluate the need to continue the mask requirement. We believe this significant preventative measure will enable us to safeguard activities like tailgating, student events, and other normal parts of university life.
MSU encourages personal responsibility to ensure case numbers are low enough that we can drop the mask requirement as soon as possible. The most effective way to keep the number of COVID cases low on our campus is voluntary COVID vaccinations. We strongly encourage all members of our university community to take part in the many available vaccination opportunities.
Vaccinations are available and can be scheduled by visiting https://covidvaccine.msstate.edu or by calling 662-325-7535. If exposed to COVID, persons who are fully vaccinated will not be required to quarantine unless they are exhibiting symptoms. MSU continues to encourage handwashing, physical distancing, and face coverings even outdoors when in groups or in close proximity to others. Visit https://msstate.edu/COVID19 for details.
At MSU, we often speak in terms of family – and as we all know, family takes care of family. While there is no perfect solution, together we will persevere and triumph over these challenges and return to the type of university experience we all want and deserve. Hail State!