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COVID-19 Protocols

  • The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) has released official MSDH COVID-19 Public Health Guidance for College and University Settings. In accordance with this guidance, The University of Southern Mississippi’s COVID-19 protocols will be updated as follows, effective August 6, 2021.
    • All eligible students, faculty, and staff are strongly urged to get a COVID-19 vaccination.
    • If you are exposed to someone with COVID-19, you should get tested 3-5 days following exposure. If you are not fully vaccinated, you should quarantine for at least 10 days after exposure. Fully vaccinated persons do not have to quarantine after exposure, but should get tested.
      • If you test positive for COVID-19, even if fully vaccinated, you should isolate for at least 10 days from the beginning of your symptoms or from your test date if you have no symptoms.
    • Due to the prevalence of the highly transmissible Delta Variant, face coverings must be worn universally indoors for all students, faculty, staff, and visitors, regardless of vaccination status, unless an individual is in an isolated space. This requirement will continue to be reevaluated as public health guidance evolves throughout the surge associated with the Delta Variant.
    • Face coverings are strongly recommended in any other setting in which people are in close contact.
    • Events should be scheduled in large spaces or outdoors when possible.
    • These updated protocols will continue to be reevaluated, pending future public health guidance.
  • Individual employee concerns that have not already been addressed should be discussed with the department head, director, or dean in consultation with HR. View HR’s COVID-19 FAQs for more information.

Originally published August 4, 2021

Student Vaccine Incentive Program

  • The University of Southern Mississippi has announced a new incentive program to encourage students to obtain their COVID-19 vaccination. Through the program, fully vaccinated USM students will be eligible for incentives that will be offered over the course of the next 12 weeks. Weekly drawings will begin on July 30. Incentives include Fall 2021 Semester Tuition, Dining Dollars, bookstore vouchers and more.
  • Details for students are available on the Student Vaccine Incentives web page.

Originally published July 29, 2021

Community Standards

Community Standards last updated August 18, 2021

UPDATED August 31Students and Families: Take Flight

UPDATED September 16 - Faculty and Staff

UPDATED September 14 - Vaccination Information

UPDATED August 18 - Community Standards

UPDATED September 14 - COVID-19 Testing Data

Previous Updates Still in Effect


  • Get Your Vaccine
  • Wear Your Face Covering
  • Keep Your Distance
  • Wash Your Hands
  • Monitor Your Health

CDC Prevention Guidelines


CDC Protection Guidelines

USM Health Protocols

Previous Updates Still in Effect

Dear Southern Miss Community:

I write today urging you to do all you can to ensure that we have a full return to in-person classes and activities this fall. As we continue collaborating closely with state health officials and the IHL system office to finalize comprehensive health and safety protocols, the best step you can take today is to get vaccinated.

The most recent data shows that the majority of recent COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are occurring in people who are not vaccinated. I hope that each of us will do our part to reduce those numbers.

If you have not yet been vaccinated, I ask that you wear a face covering any time you are within three feet of another person.

Finally, I ask that you continue to follow the University’s complete Community Standards, which also include keeping your distance, washing your hands, and monitoring your health.

Ultimately, our ability to maintain our institutional momentum and return to full activities this fall will be determined by our individual commitment to personal responsibility. It is my hope that each of us will choose to act in a way that allows us to do the things we enjoy the most – and I believe many of you share that hope.

The University needs your help. Thank you for doing your part.


Rodney D. Bennett, President

Dear Southern Miss Community:

As the University continues to monitor developments regarding COVID-19 and related variants, the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff remains our top priority. We are aware of multiple perspectives, sensitivities, and questions about health protocols for the fall semester, and we are working diligently to finalize comprehensive protocols that will best position us for a productive in-person semester.

We are collaborating closely with Mississippi’s other public universities and our state-wide Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) system office, in consultation with the Mississippi Department of Health (MSDH) and other agencies. We anticipate soon receiving updated public health guidance regarding recommendations for university protocols, and based on this forthcoming guidance, we are poised to act as expeditiously as possible to finalize and implement any modifications that may be necessary for the fall.

We all want to be able to return to normal, in-person activities to the extent possible, without the disruption caused by unexpected changes. The best step you can take today is to get vaccinated. Information about on-campus vaccination opportunities remains available on the Student Health Services at Moffitt Health Center website, and information about off-campus vaccination opportunities remains available on the MSDH website.

General information about the University’s response is available on the COVID-19 website, with specific web pages dedicated to resources for students and families as well as faculty and staff. These web pages will continue to be updated as fall protocols are finalized.

We anticipate the pandemic will continue to evolve throughout the late summer and into the fall, and we will continue to monitor all developments closely to update protocols in accordance with future public health guidance. Even though the challenges of the pandemic continue to be fluid, I want to state again that the best step you can take today is to get vaccinated.

Thank you for your ongoing care and concern for each other as we continue to navigate the pandemic, together.


Rodney D. Bennett, President

  • The University's COVID-19 Response Status has moved to Blue, which means the University has issued health advisories and modified select procedures.
  • University of Southern Mississippi faculty have launched a free, online public course that assists in understanding COVID-19 and related pandemic topics. Each module is presented in a video format by a USM faculty member whose expertise and academic focus is on the given topic. Access the course.
  • Eligible students may now apply for the laptop loan program, which is made possible through the generosity of the USM Foundation as well as an allocation from CARES funding.
    • Loaner laptops are available on both the Gulf Park and Hattiesburg campuses and must be picked up in person at the respective campus.
    • Students must be enrolled full-time and have a valid USM ID. Priority will be given to students who have no technology available to them off campus.
    • To request a laptop, log in to the online application with your USM SOAR credentials and complete the application.
    • Laptops must be returned at the end of the current semester.
  • 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.