The University of Southern Mississippi has 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.
USM will begin the semester on Aug. 17, and end regular instruction on Nov. 23 prior to the student Thanksgiving holidays Nov. 25-27.
Semester exams will be conducted online beginning on Nov. 30, and concluding on Dec. 3. Previously, the schedule called for classes to begin on Aug. 24. The modified schedule also eliminates the traditional fall break for students in mid-October.
Given ongoing public health restrictions on large event gatherings, university officials are continuing to evaluate possible impacts to commencement ceremonies currently scheduled for late August for spring graduates and December for fall graduates. Updates regarding commencement exercises will be communicated as soon as additional decisions are made.
“As we prepare for resuming on-campus operations, the safety and health of our USM community remains our top priority,” said University President Rodney D. Bennett. “The condensed fall calendar will present new challenges, but the fall semester will undoubtedly be another opportunity for USM to demonstrate our proven ability to meet any challenge with innovation and determination.”
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 Institutions of Higher Learning. Faculty are developing all course formats to be highly adaptable, should public health concerns necessitate significant modifications.
Public health guidelines will also determine future plans for large gatherings, including athletic events. Changes to student life programming and housing policies will be implemented in accordance with current health guidance. USM is implementing plans for faculty and staff to begin returning to campuses in a phased approach, beginning in early June and continuing into mid-July in preparation.