HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - The University of Southern Mississippi is looking ahead to the fall term as students are set to return to in-person classes in August.
“Everyone’s excited, everyone’s excited to be back” said USM student Gabriel Story.
After months of Zoom classes and online teaching materials, many students are ready for a little normalcy.
“I feel like with the technology barrier, like most of the teachers struggled to teach,” USM student Eduard Hernandez said. “They have to use a Blackboard or Zoom. It’s just a mess, but I feel like going back in person will be easier.”
Story, a junior at USM, explained what he’s heard so far from university leaders and how the campus is reacting.
“We got an email from the dean, and he was like we are going to transition back to normal,” Story said. “I saw people sharing it across their social media, and I thought that was pretty cool.”
Dr. Dee Dee Anderson, vice president of Student Affairs, said students need to return to the classroom sooner than later.
“When they have those interactions with faculty and staff and their peers, they are more likely to make better grades, they are more likely to be retained and they’re more likely to graduate,” Anderson said.
Leaders at the university monitor the COVID-19 numbers daily. If there is a spike in the coming months of the fall term, Anderson explainrf how they will handle it.
“We always have contingency plans, backup plans,” Anderson said. “If things in the country were to get worse, which we are hopeful that won’t happen, we will pivot back to an online experience like we did this year.”
Anderson said the university will follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines as students return to campus.
COVID-19 vaccinations aren’t mandatory for faculty, staff or students at USM, but they highly encourage getting the shot.
Mask wearing and social distancing is still a requirement on the campus.