COVID-19 Response Plan

The Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science is carefully following local, state and national agencies as they monitor the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Additionally, MSMS has worked closely with the Mississippi University for Women, the Mississippi Department of Education as well as health care professionals to develop a COVID-19 response plan to ensure the health and safety of everyone on campus. We encourage you to check back often, as this site is updated frequently to provide the most current information regarding MSMS’ response to COVID-19.

Campus COVID-19 updates

The semester is well under way, and we have been monitoring how things are progressing.

Below are a few updates for this semester:

  1. Saturday, August 22: Quarter 1—Meet the Teachers
    Teachers will invite parents to their Zoom sessions according to the schedule below.  Parents will receive 3 to 4 separate emails with invitations, depending on the number of classes their children are taking during quarter 1. 
    • 9:00 AM – Block 1 
    • 10:00 AM – Block 2 
    • 11:00 AM – Block 4 
    • 12 noon – Block 5 
  2. Tuesday, August 25:  Parent Meetings with Directors
    Parents will have an opportunity to provide feedback and ask questions about the fall semester.
  3. Week of October 26th
    After the beginning of the second quarter, parents will be allowed to meet with their children’s teachers for that quarter.  They will also have the opportunity to meet with directors for a Q&A session.  More details will follow closer to that time.
  4. Club Fair
    In the past, club fair has been hosted in Hogarth Auditorium to allow students to investigate the various options that fit their interests.  This year, club officers and sponsors will create short introductory videos to introduce the clubs.  Next week students will have an opportunity to explore the clubs and contact club leaders for additional information. Each club will schedule interest meetings and invite interested students. 
  5. Junior Move-In 
    Instead of juniors moving in on Sunday, October 18th, they will move in Saturday, October 17th to allow for a mini-orientation.  This extra day will also help juniors transition to being on campus before starting the second quarter on Monday, October 19th.
  6. Ceremony of Lights
    This important ceremony will be held Sunday, October 25th in Rent Auditorium after juniors have been on campus for one week.  We felt that this induction ceremony was too special to hold virtually. 
  7. Winter Formal
    Right now, it does not appear that we will be able to host winter formal.  However, our Student Affairs staff members are still considering various options. 
  8. Senior Tribute
    No additional information 
As we have indicated throughout this summer, we continue to examine data and recommendations from public health officials to help guide our decisions. Governor Tate Reeves just mandated several counties in Mississippi delay face-to-face classes, a decision made based on current COVID-19 infection rates. According to Harvard researchers, Mississippi is on track to overtake Florida to become the No. 1 state for new coronavirus infections per capita. 
 
Based on this information and the fact that MSMS houses students from the entire state, we have decided to begin the school year virtually for the first 9-week grading period. We are hopeful we will be able to proceed with alternating juniors and seniors beginning with the second 9-week grading period according to the school calendar.

Due to concerns over the rising number of COVID-19 cases, we will no longer have students on campus for senior orientation.  Instead, on August 1, we will have senior registration and room setup, and from August 2 and 3, we will host a virtual senior orientation.

For senior orientation, we were trying to plan several activities that have become more impractical because of current conditions, and we are concerned about students strictly abiding by social distancing measures during the few days on campus without classes.   Further, we are not comfortable with how many seniors have practiced a soft quarantine at home prior to coming this weekend because we failed to communicate this expectation in a timely manner, something that we will do for juniors immediately.  As much as we would love to host senior orientation on campus, we do not consider it to be wise at this point.   

To reiterate, Saturday, August 1 will provide seniors a chance to register and pick up books.  In addition, they will have a chance to set up their rooms and decide which bed or side of the room they want before juniors arrive.  Families who are not able to make it this Saturday can sign up for mobile registration.  We will take two or three MSMS buses to a few different locations statewide.

Finally, we want to remind you  fees are still due by the deadline, even if you decide on the virtual option.  As indicated previously, we will decide on reimbursements at the end of each semester.  Students will not be allowed to register prior to all fees being paid.  If you need assistance with paying fees, please contact us. 

As we continue to finalize plans, we have been listening to questions from families to attempt to meet as many needs and desires possible.  We have had an opportunity to meet with students, parents, and employees to answer questions and consider additional concerns.  Thanks for those who have participated.    

The 2020-2021 Revised School Calendar includes dates juniors and seniors will be on campus.  Please remember this calendar may change based on future events related to COVID-19.  We have had several families express concerns about their students’ safety due to the pandemic.  These concerns, along with the recent data on COVID-19 infections, have prompted us to offer a virtual-only option throughout the first semester, or as long as we experience a public health crisis.  

All employees and students will be required to wear masks when in the presence of others, including inside the residence halls.  Because this is the best proven method to limit the spread of COVID-19, this policy will be strictly enforced.  Students who are not able to wear masks, or those who are not willing to, should choose the virtual-only option.   

General

Q:  How often will juniors and seniors alternate on campus?

A:  Juniors and seniors will alternate once each nine-week grading period.  Careful consideration has been given to limit student travel.   See calendar for dates.

Q:  Will fees be adjusted since students will not be on campus the entire school year?

A:  Yes.  We will determine towards the end of each semester how much of an adjustment needs to be made. 

Q:  I am concerned about my child losing out on the benefit of having seniors present to help guide and acclimate to MSMS.  How will you handle this?

A:  Emissaries will schedule virtual meetings with the juniors they are assigned.  Interaction with other seniors will take place in club meetings, which will be held virtually.  In addition, the Pathways program for juniors will provide interactions between juniors and recent alumni to assist with their acclimation. 

Q:  What safety measures are being put in place?

A:  Our staff members have been cleaning and sanitizing all buildings.  Our Custodian and Facilities Coordinator both went through an extensive course this summer and received certifications as Infection Prevention Experts through the Academy for Cleaning Experts (ACE).  Below are a few measures being implemented:

    • Daily temperature readings will be taken and symptoms monitored for all employees, students, and visitors.  To ensure that everyone has been cleared for each day, everyone will be provided with a wrist band.
    • Masks will be required when around other people, including inside the residence halls.
    • Sanitation stations are being installed across campus
    • We have adjusted our current cleaning plan to ensure all spaces are properly cleaned frequently. This includes an increase in wipe downs of common spaces, light switches, doorknobs, etc. 
    • The layout of shared spaces has been modified by decreasing the amount of furniture and adjusting the space between seating areas. 
    • Visible signage is being posted as friendly reminders to wash hands frequently and to wear masks.

Q:  Will students be allowed to go home during the 4 ½ weeks?

A:  No, not unless there is an emergency.

 

Academic Affairs

Q:  When will schedules be ready?

A:  Schedules will be ready the week before school begins. Mrs. Brown will send an email to all students with instruction on how to access the schedule.

Q:  What type of schedule will be used?

A:  To limit the number of courses students focus on at one time, we are moving to a block schedule.  Students will take approximately 3 courses each nine-week quarter.  Traditional year-long courses (1 Carnegie Unit) will last two quarters. Traditional semester courses (0.5 Carnegie Units) will last one quarter.

Q:  How will classes be different while we are on campus versus while at home?

A:  Students will be required to participate virtually during the scheduled time of their classes.  Students who experience connectivity issues during the lesson will be able to view the lesson later, as it will be recorded and loaded to Canvas.  We will assist families individually as needed with other issues or concerns.

Q:  How will students be able to get help from teachers outside of class?

A:  Teachers will host office hours and tutorial sessions virtually.  The times will be determined by individual teachers.

Q:  Will mandatory study hours from 7:00-9:00 p.m. be enforced while students are home?

A:  Yes. We Encourage parents to help us maintain a consistent structure to allow students to develop proper study habits and time management.

 

Residence Life

Q:  Do you have enough rooms to house all students in a single room?

A:  No.

 Q:  When will roommate assignments be provided?

A:  By the end of the day on Friday, July 24.

Q:  Will I be able to have my requested roommate as a suitemate?

A:  Yes. We also attempted to place requested suite mates on the same floor/wing.

Q:  Will students be able to have other students visit their rooms?

A:  Yes, a maximum of 3 students can be in the room at one time.  However, students will need to still wear a mask and remain 6 feet apart. Parents can request that their child not have other students in the room.

Q:  How will residential rooms be cleaned between rotations of juniors and seniors?

A:  Students will be asked to clean their rooms. Specific guidelines will be provided.  In addition, MSMS staff will come behind them and sanitize the room before the next group arrives.

Q:  Should students bring their own hand sanitizer and other cleaning products for their rooms?

A:  Yes.

 

Student Affairs

Q:  Will MSMS still offer sports?

A:  Due to the campus pool still being closed and the limited availability of community pools, we will not offer swim this year.  We do still plan to offer Cross Country, Soccer, Tennis, and Track and Field.  This is subject to change according to guidelines from the Mississippi High School Activities Association.

Q:  Will we still have clubs this year?

A: Yes.  We will work on a virtual club fair at the beginning of the year, and club sponsors will assist with hosting virtual club meetings as needed.  

Q:  How will other activities be impacted? 

A:  Residence Life staff members are working diligently to develop creative and engaging programs for students both on and off campus.

Q:  How will the cafeteria operate?

A:  Sodexo manages food services for MUW and MSMS.  They have established safety procedures that will be shared in our reopening plan.  Students will have three meals per day as usual Monday through Friday and brunch and dinner on weekends.  Details will be provided in the plan to be released next week.

Q:  Will students still be required to do Work Service?

A:  Yes. 

Q:  Will students still be required to complete Wellness requirements?

A:  Yes, even while at home.  Details will be provided.  

Q:  Will students be allowed to go to Wal Mart and other places off campus?

A:  No. We are considering options for students who have needs during the 4 ½ weeks.  Local parents have volunteered to pick items up for students whose parents live far away.

Q:  Will parents be allowed to visit their children or drop off items to them?

A:  Yes. However, we encourage parents to visit only if dropping something off during the 4 ½ weeks students are on campus.

MSMS Reopening Task Force and committees have been meeting to develop a detailed plan for the upcoming school year. 

A few of you have expressed a desire for us to begin the year operating as normal, and we wish we could.  At some point during this school year, we hope we can bring all students back to campus and return to normal, but these are not normal times.  Until then, we are trying to balance keeping students safe and providing a learning experience as close to normal as possible.  We are listening to all recommendations and concerns to make the best decisions possible.  Thanks for your understanding.

General

Q:  How often will juniors and seniors alternate on campus?

A:  Juniors and seniors will alternate once each nine-week grading period.  Careful consideration has been given to limit student travel.

 

Q:  Will fees be adjusted since students will not be on campus the entire school year?

A:  More than likely.  We will determine towards the end of each semester how much of an adjustment needs to be made.

Q:  I am concerned about my child losing out on the benefit of having seniors present to help guide and acclimate to MSMS.  How will you handle this?

A:  We will have a few emissaries (senior leaders) remain in the residence halls to assist juniors.  In addition, emissaries will schedule virtual meetings with the juniors they are assigned.   

Q:  What safety measures are being put in place?

A:  Our staff members have been cleaning and sanitizing all buildings.  Our Custodian and Facilities Coordinator both went through an extensive course this summer and received certifications as Infection Prevention Experts through the Academy for Cleaning Experts (ACE).  Below are a few measures being implemented.

    • Daily temperature readings will be taken and symptoms monitored for all employees, students, and visitors.  To ensure that everyone has been cleared for each day, everyone will be provided with a wrist band.
    • Wearing face masks will be required by employees and students in common areas.  Specific details will be provided in the plan. 
    • Sanitation stations are being installed across campus
    • We have adjusted our current cleaning plan to ensure all spaces are properly cleaned frequently. This includes an increase in wipe downs of common spaces, light switches, doorknobs, etc. 
    • The layout of shared spaces has been modified by decreasing the amount of furniture and adjusting the space between seating areas. 
    • Visible signage is being posted as friendly reminders to wash hands frequently and to wear masks.

 

Academic Affairs

Q:  When will schedules be ready?

A:  Schedules will be ready the week before school begins. Mrs. Brown will send an email to all students with instruction on how to access the schedule.

Q:  What type of schedule will be used?

A:  To limit the number of courses students focus on at one time, we are moving to a block schedule.  Students will take approximately 3 courses each nine-week quarter.  Traditional year-long courses (1 Carnegie Unit) will last two quarters. Traditional semester courses (0.5 Carnegie Units) will last one quarter.

Q:  How will classes be different while we are on campus versus while at home?

A:  Class sessions will be filmed live to allow all students to participate at the same time.  Students who experience connectivity issues during the lesson will be able to view the lesson later, as it will be recorded and loaded to Canvas.  We will assist families individually as needed with other issues or concerns.

Q:  How will students be able to get help from teachers outside of class?

A:  Teachers will host office hours and tutorial sessions virtually.  The times will be determined by individual teachers.

 

Residence Life

Q:  Do you have enough rooms to house all students in a single room?

A:  No.

Q:  When will roommate assignments be provided?

A:  We will more than likely notify students by email next week.

Q:  Will I be able to have my requested roommate as a suite-mate?

A:  Yes. We also attempted to place requested suite mates on the same floor/wing.

 

Student Affairs

Q:  Will MSMS still offer sports?

A:  We are working alongside Mississippi High School Activities Association to determine our status in participating in Fall Sports.

Q:  Will we still have clubs this year?

A: Yes.  We will work on a virtual club fair at the beginning of the year, and club sponsors will assist with hosting virtual club meetings as needed.  

Q:  How will other activities be impacted? 

A:  Residence Life staff members are working diligently to develop creative and engaging programs for students both on and off campus.

Q:  How will the cafeteria operate?

A:  Sodexo manages food services for MUW and MSMS.  They have established safety procedures that will be shared in our reopening plan.  Students will have three meals per day as usual Monday through Friday and brunch and dinner on weekends.   

Q:  Will students still be required to do Work Service?

A:  Yes.  

Q:  Will students still be required to complete Wellness requirements?

A:  Yes, even while at home.  Details will be provided.   

 

During the 2020-2021 academic year, juniors and seniors will rotate living in the residence halls to limit the number of students on campus at one time.  To ensure every student has their own room while on campus, juniors and seniors will room together; roommate assignments will be provided soon.  In addition to limiting the number of students on campus at one time, we will require students and employees to wear masks in common spaces.  Two masks that contain the MSMS logo will be provided for all students and employees.  PLUS will assist with the cost of the masks and conduct a fundraiser for those interested in purchasing additional masks.

For us to reconnect with seniors and allow them to reconnect with their campus, we plan to have seniors move in on Saturday, August 1st for several days of orientation.  Details of the orientation will be provided soon.  After seniors leave campus, we will clean the buildings and continue with move-in for juniors on the originally scheduled date of Saturday, August 8th.  Because of the importance of helping juniors get acclimated to the MSMS culture and a more rigorous learning environment, juniors will begin classes while on campus.  The specific dates for juniors and seniors on campus throughout the year will be provided within the next two weeks.

Dates

  • August 1 – August 4:  Senior move-in and begin Orientation
  • August 8 – TBD:  Junior move-in and Orientation, Classes on campus

As you are probably already aware, Governor Reeves indicated yesterday that classes will not resume face to face this school year.  Thus, we will continue classes remotely throughout the remainder of the semester.  We know how disappointed you are about this decision, but we all know that this action is necessary to limit the spread of COVID19.  Words cannot fully express how much we will miss sharing these last few months with you, especially our seniors.  We are deeply sorry that these important days in your lives have been met with this unfortunate situation.

Below are items that we hope will address all your questions.  

Final Grades

  • Final grades will be determined by individual teachers
  • Teachers are trying to decide in their individual classes those objectives and skills that are essential for students to learn and at the same time provide much needed challenging learning opportunities for students.  Our primary goal right now is to help ALL students be prepared for their next academic challenge: college or senior year at MSMS. 

 

Last Day of Classes and Exams

  • The last day of class is still May 14.    
  • Exams are scheduled for May 15, 18-21
  • More details will be provided by individual teachers.

 

Moving Out of Residence Halls

  • Juniors will move out Wednesday, May 13 through Saturday, May 16. 
  • Seniors will move out Wednesday, May 6 through Friday, May 8.  Seniors will also have their pictures taken in their caps and gowns while on campus.
  • Students can submit preferences for days through the survey, but times will be scheduled to allow us to limit the number of students on campus at one time. Additional details on procedures will be provided next week from the Office of Student Affairs.

 

Refund of Room and Board Fees

  • Fees will be refunded upon request.  Parents will use the link to the survey to submit their option as indicated below.  Please note that refund checks will be made out to students in order to expedite the refund.
    • Transfer fourth quarter room and board fees to the next academic year (juniors only).
    • Request a refund of the $250 fourth quarter room and board fees.
    • Donate the $250 fourth quarter room and board fees (will not request a refund)

 

Graduation

  • We are hopeful that we can reschedule graduation to the first or second week in July.  An exact date will be determined in the next two weeks. 
  • We would like for seniors and their parents to indicate their interest in attending a July graduation by completing the survey.
  • Seniors will have a video and photo taken as they march across the stage when they return to move out of the residence halls.  A video will be created to use for graduation activities.
  • Graduation Fees
    • Graduation fees include the cost of the regalia rental, diplomas, and diploma covers.  We will reimburse fees paid for additional graduation tickets and the reception.   

 

Other Events and Activities

  • AP Exams—Will be conducted online
  • Blue Letter Banquet—Will be held virtually
  • Honors Convocation—Will be held virtually on May 14 at 6:00 p.m. and will include recognitions for seniors generally held during Senior Recognition
  • Tacky Tiki—Postponed to be included in an on-campus activity for juniors and seniors in July
  • Registering for 2020-2021 Courses
    • Because juniors still need to submit course requests, counseling sessions will be held for groups of students to help complete course requests, which will be submitted online.  Ms. Brown will provide details later.
  • Summer Enrichment Camps—Will be held online
    Dates and additional information will be provided in the next few weeks. 
  • Move-in Day—We still expect for incoming juniors to arrive Saturday, August 8.

 

The following events for the 2019-2020 academic year have been canceled/postponed:

  • ACT Workshops—Canceled
  • Summer Enrichment Camps—Will more than likely be postponed due to the likelihood of the 2019-2020 school year being pushed into June.
  • Sporting events—TBD (MHSAA has suspended all activities until April 17.)
  • Tales from the Crypt – Canceled
  • Eighth of May—TBD
  • Spring Musical—Canceled
  • U.S. History Exam—Canceled; Governor’s executive order; MBE affirmation
  • Blue Letter Banquet—Canceled
  • AP Exams—TBD
  • Honors Convocation—TBD
  • Tacky Tiki—TBD
  • Graduation—Will more than likely be postponed to a later date
  • Selection Process
    • Interview Day was canceled, and interviews will not be accounted for in this year’s selection process. 
    • To ensure that families get additional information about MSMS, a video has been developed to send to families.  In addition, families will have an opportunity to join Q & A sessions through Zoom.  They will be able to join through video and audio.  We will have parent and student representatives available to provide responses to questions.
MSMS has made adjustments to our schedule for the next two weeks according to the recommendations made today by Governor Tate Reeves and the Mississippi Department of Education.Spring Break is extended for one week for MSMS students, and online instruction will begin Monday, March 23rd for one week.
 
Information and details for our current students and parents will be sent by email. Please continue to check emails frequently in order to stay informed of upcoming plans.

Safety at a glance

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FACE MASKS ARE REQUIRED

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AVOID TOUCHING YOUR FACE

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SANITIZE HIGH TRAFFIC AREAS 

1a

WASH HANDS OFTEN

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USE HAND SANITIZER

1A1

STAY HOME IF YOU ARE NOT FEELING WELL

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PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING

1A11

LIMIT FACE-TO-FACE INTERACTIONS

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SELF-QUARANTINE IF YOU HAVE KNOWINGLY BEEN EXPOSED