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Update - August 3, 2020

Preparing for Fall 2020


  • Wear a Face Covering
  • Maintain 6 Feet of Distance
  • Wash Hands Frequently
  • Avoid Touching Your Face
  • Stay Home If You Are Sick

CDC Prevention Guidelines

Student Health Services COVID-19 Updates

CDC Protection Guidelines

Student Health Services COVID-19 Updates

Previous Updates Still in Effect

  • The University is implementing a phased transition period before larger in-person course activities take place this fall. All classes will still begin August 17, but traditional lecture course work will be delivered remotely for the first three weeks of the semester, with in-person meetings for face-to-face and hybrid lecture classes beginning September 8. This change only affects the delivery of course content; no changes to the academic calendar will be made at this time.
  • Specific information has been sent to students, faculty and staff via email and may be accessed online.
  • The Graduate School has extended standardized test waivers (excluding English proficiency exams) to applicants through the Summer and Fall 2021 terms. Please be aware that applicants to certain programs will not be eligible for this waiver due to accrediting or state and/or federal admission guidelines. Details are available on the Graduate Admissions website.
  • The University has launched a new webpage with plans and information for the Fall 2020 semester, as students prepare to return to USM campuses. Flight Path: Fall 2020 contains updated health and safety protocols, academic course delivery details, and includes information about Community Standards, housing and dining, academic success, as well as additional student, faculty and staff resources.
  • The University's Return to On-Site Work Guidelines have been updated. These plans could change, as guidance from public health officials monitoring COVID-19 continues to evolve.
    • Employees should continue their current work assignments until they are notified otherwise by their supervisor.
    • Employees who are returning to work on-site will be expected to comply with all current federal, state, local and institutional protocols.
    • Employees who have concerns should refer to HR’s COVID-19 Employment FAQs and discuss their situation with their supervisor.
  • As public health officials continue to express significant concern for spikes in cases of COVID-19 across our state and strongly advise against large gatherings, USM will not be able to host Commencement ceremonies that were tentatively rescheduled for August.
    • We understand that Commencement is among the most treasured traditions for our graduating students and their families, and we remain committed to welcoming all Class of 2020 graduates as participants in the next Commencement ceremonies we are able to host in person. Specific information regarding next steps has been sent to graduates via email and may be accessed online.
    • We extend our sincere apologies to our Class of 2020, and we share in the disappointment of this difficult decision, but we are concerned about the elevated risk associated with the size of our graduating class and guests gathering in one location.
    • As it is difficult to predict the status of evolving public health guidelines, plans for Commencement ceremonies currently scheduled for December may also change. University officials are continuing to monitor all applicable public health guidance and will communicate a final decision regarding December ceremonies by September 15.
  • Beginning July 1, 2020, University-sponsored domestic and international travel may be considered on a case-by-case basis and will require approval by each division’s executive officer.
  • Orientation for new freshmen and transfer students on both the Hattiesburg and Gulf Park campuses will be delivered virtually on currently scheduled dates in July and August. Admitted students will receive specific updates via email. Visit for more information.
  • The University of Southern Mississippi announced plans to condense the Fall 2020 semester calendar in an effort to limit student travel into and out of the region and help prevent the potential spread of COVID-19. These plans could change, as guidance from public health officials monitoring COVID-19 continues to evolve.
    • USM will now begin the semester on August 17 and end regular instruction on November 23, with exams conducted online November 30-December 3.
    • The modified fall calendar is one part of a comprehensive strategy the University is developing and implementing to help ensure a successful academic year for students, faculty and staff. Additional health protocols and procedures will be implemented in the fall, following ongoing consultation with public health officials and forthcoming guidance from the IHL Safe Start Task Force.
  • The Office of Admissions is temporarily waiving the requirement for high school seniors to submit an ACT or SAT score to complete an application for freshman admission for the Fall 2020 term.
    • Students who meet the State Institutions of Higher Learning requirement of a 3.2 core high school grade point average (GPA) will be admissible without test scores, provided all other application criteria are met.
    • Please be aware that students will need to submit official ACT or SAT score reports for placement purposes before advisement at New Student Orientation, or no later than August 24, 2020.
    • Details are available on the Admissions Requirements web page.
  • For Students
    • For immediate relief in managing stressors, try Eagle Cares.
    • Student Counseling Services remains available to assist students who may be feeling anxiety related to COVID-19 or social isolation.
      • Counselors are available remotely for students who are currently residing in Mississippi.
      • Counselors will assist students who are currently residing out-of-state with finding resources where they are located.
      • Students may call 601.266.4829 for assistance during normal business hours.
      • For after-hours and weekend emergencies, call 601.606.4357.
      • More information is available on the Student Counseling Services website.
  • For Benefit-Eligible Employees
    • USM’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP), GuidanceResources, has a Coronavirus (COVID-19) resources toolkit available online. Access instructions for benefit-eligible employees and their dependents are available on the Human Resources website.
    • Remember, benefit eligible employees and members of their household have telephonic access to talk to a counselor, financial advisor or legal advisor: 800.272.7255.