As students return to classes, Mississippi State University has implemented changes on campus to keep students safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Vice President for Student Affairs Regina Hyatt said students are required to wear a face covering in every campus building and outside when they cannot social distance.
"Students do not have to wear a face covering in their individual residence hall room if it is just themselves and their roommate," Hyatt said.
According to Hyatt, the transition time between classes will increase by 20 minutes, allowing students to social distance while going to their next class.
This change also gives students time to travel to unique classroom locations where students can spread out.
Provost and Executive Vice President David Shaw said some classes will be in locations such as Humphrey Coliseum, the Sanderson Center, Colvard Student Union, Bost Extension Center, the Newell-Grissom Building, McCarthy Gym and several other non-traditional classrooms.
Rylie Stephens, a senior marketing major from Ocean Springs, said she is looking forward to this semester, but it will take some time to adjust to the new way of classes.
Stephens said the university is doing what they can to protect students but thinks that some of the solutions should not be a long-term decision.
"My experience with online classes last semester was less than ideal," Stephens said. "I think online classes are a poor way to receive a college education, but I do believe the university is doing the best they can."
Stephens has one class that switched to a completely online method and four classes that will meet face-to-face.
Executive VP Shaw said dining services will also look different this semester in order to accommodate safety precautions.
"We have taken out the serve yourself option, so all food will be served by staff," Shaw said. "We are greatly reducing seating to allow social distancing and adding more seating outdoors."
VP for Student Affairs Hyatt said there will be tents outside of the Union and Fresh Food Company to provide additional seating and all campus dining locations will have to-go options.
According to Hyatt, inside seating is reduced to 50% capacity. There will be no seating available inside Subway or Einstein's Bagel Company and very limited seating in Steak-n-Shake and Moe's.
"All dining operations will be cashless," Hyatt said. "If you have cash, you can go to the Dining Services office between Subway and Moe's and exchange it for a card that can be used."
Line queuing markers will be in all facilities marking off the physical distancing requirements.
Executive VP Shaw said there is no mandatory testing, but the university asks students to check their own temperature every day.
Shaw said there is a screening program on the Everbridge app where students can report any symptoms they may experience, and follow-up testing is available at the Longest Student Health Center.
The university also has a plan in place for students that test positive for COVID-19.
Hyatt said the Longest Student Health Center will provide detailed instructions about managing symptoms and quarantine procedures for a student that tests positive.
According to Hyatt, if a student tests positive they just do not go to class in-person during their quarantine period.
If an on-campus student tests positive, they will isolate in one of the university's quarantine facilities where students will be kept safe and attended to properly.
Hyatt said it is extremely important to follow procedures in order to keep everyone safe.
"Please follow our Cowbell Well guidelines," Hyatt said. "Wear a face covering; wash your hands often; observe physical distancing, especially if you are not wearing a mask; stay home if you feel sick; sanitize surfaces you touch frequently; practice self-care and complete the daily self-screening through the Everbridge app."