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University of Mississippi remains “committed” to resuming in-person fall classes

The University of Mississippi provided an update on Wednesday pertaining to the possibility of opening its campuses back up for in-person instruction this fall.

In-person instruction on all of the Ole Miss campuses is currently canceled through all summer sessions, and programming on all campuses has been canceled through Aug. 1 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Several universities across the country have announced over the past week their intentions reopen their campuses and resume in-person classes. None of Mississippi’s public universities have announced firm plans to do so.

The Institutions of Higher Learning announced on Tuesday the formation of the Safe Start Task Force for the state’s university system. The task force will craft a system-level plan for starting and completing the fall 2020 semester in the safest and most effective way.

Each of the eight public universities will have two representatives on the task force. Representing Ole Miss is Larry Sparks, Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance, and Dr. Charlotte Pegues, interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. Mississippi State University Provost and Executive Vice President Dr. David Shaw will serve as chair of the task force.

Ole Miss Chancellor Glenn Boyce sent out a letter to students, faculty and staff with several updates on where things stand regarding classes resuming and when students can retrieve their belongings, which is were left in dorms when the campus closed last month.

“Our entire leadership team has been hard at work to understand what will be required for the Fall 2020 semester,” Boyce’s letter read. “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.”

According to Boyce, Ole Miss’s status for the fall semester has not changed for classes on the Oxford and regional campuses, and university officials are still “committed” to pursuing all possible ways in-person classes can resume in August. Fall semester begins on Aug. 24.

The University will make a decision regarding the fall semester no later than June 30, according to Boyce’s letter.

Students who were living in residence halls will have to wait a little longer to retrieve their belongings left in dorms. While Oxford began Phase 1 of the “Serving Oxford Safely” recovery plan on Wednesday, restaurant dining rooms and many area hotels remain closed.

“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,” Boyce said. “As a result, we must ask for your continued patience until restrictions are lifted further.”

When it is safe for students, University Housing will unveil an appointment-based system for students to set a date to retrieve their belongings.