University of Mississippi students walk to class on the Oxford campus. Credit: Molly Minta/Mississippi Today

As COVID-19 cases reach a record high in Mississippi, some colleges are delaying or moving classes online while most will start the spring semester as planned. 

Mississippi University for Women has pushed back its semester start-date to Tuesday, Jan. 18 from Jan 6. Jackson State University and Mississippi Valley State University will start classes virtually this Monday, Jan. 10. 

JSU will hold online classes for two weeks, and MVSU will stay virtual for one week. 

In a letter to the campus community, MVSU President Jerryl Briggs wrote that moving classes online will give MVSU “additional time to further enhance safety measures in all buildings and classrooms.”  

“I want to remind you NOT to let your guards down,” Briggs wrote. “COVID-19 concerns and challenges are not over yet and we must continue to do all we can to keep yourselves and our campus as safe as possible.” 

For students moving back into the dorms, MUW and JSU are going to require proof of a negative PCR test. MUW says it will offer free rapid COVID tests on Jan. 17, the day that residence halls are now scheduled to open. 

Alcorn State University is starting classes as scheduled on Jan. 18 and says it will extend “protocols that require masks indoors and outdoors regardless of vaccination status.” 

At Delta State University, the “administration has indicated plans to re-evaluate protocols for all DSU students, staff and faculty sometime next week,” Brittany Davis-Green, the communications director, wrote in an email to Mississippi Today. The only change Delta State has currently made is to allow student athletes to follow the less stringent quarantine guidelines announced in December by the Centers for Disease Control.

Officials from University of Mississippi and University of Southern Mississippi said they’re starting the semester as planned without changes due to the omicron wave. Mississippi State also did not respond to Mississippi Today by press time, but its site says classes are scheduled to start on Jan. 18.

In a statement, University of Mississippi Chancellor Glenn Boyce told Mississippi Today that classes are starting on Jan. 18 as scheduled. 

“At the same time, we are fully aware of recent developments with the pandemic,” he said. “I will share additional guidance with our campus community soon about how we will work diligently to keep our community as safe as possible while maintaining our residential campus experience.”


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Molly Minta covers higher education for Mississippi Today. She works in partnership with Open Campus, a nonprofit news organization focused on investigating higher education. Originally from Melbourne Beach, Florida, Molly reported on public housing and prosecutors in her home state and worked as a fact-checker at The Nation before joining Mississippi Today. Her story on Mississippi's only class on critical race theory was a finalist for the Education Writers Association National Awards for Education Reporting in 2023 in the feature reporting category.