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Winter weather causes virtual start to college spring semester

Winter weather causes virtual start to college spring semester
The Lyceum Building on University of Mississippi’s campus in Oxford. Credit: Molly Minta/Mississippi Today

Due to icy roads and freezing temperatures, Mississippi universities across the state are moving classes online, with one school asking students to delay moving onto campus until the weather improves next week.

As of Thursday, the state’s only public universities that were open for regular business were Mississippi State University in Starkville and the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg.

Delta State University and Mississippi Valley State University moved to virtual work and classes where possible, according to those universities. So did Jackson State University, which is also experiencing “water woes” due to boil-water notices and low water pressure primarily in west and south Jackson stemming from the winter weather.

The University of Mississippi announced yesterday it was postponing the start of the spring semester to Jan. 25 and asking students not to return to Oxford, where the roads are impassable, until Jan. 23. Oxford is located in the northern part of the state that has been hit hardest by the winter storms.

In a campuswide message, Chancellor Glenn Boyce wrote that the university’s facilities crews need above-freezing temperatures in order to clear the slick ice covering the campus roads, parking lots and sidewalks. The mayor of Oxford, Robyn Tannehill, has asked residents to stay off the roads.

This will affect about 5,400 students, both in and out-of-state, who live on campus and have yet to return, Jacob Batte, a spokesperson, wrote in an email to Mississippi Today. He estimated about 300 students are already on campus.

At least one dorm, Stewart Hall, has sustained leaks and water damage from the storm, Batte added. The Thad Cochran Research Center also saw some damage, but Batte wrote that the university had learned how to effectively prepare for winter weather from past freezes.

The university’s food pantry, Grove Pantry, has been open for limited hours this week, and university police have distributed supplies to eight international students who moved in this week, Batte wrote. Hourly employees who were scheduled to work this week are eligible for administrative leave.

Delta State opened its food pantry for emergency hours earlier this week and delayed move-in by one day, according to the university.

“Our facilities staff have worked extra hard to ensure our halls have had heat and water,” Eddie Lovin, the vice president for student affairs, said in a statement. “Our food services staff have ensured that meals were available for students on campus, as well as any essential staff helping keep the halls open. Our Counseling Staff has made themselves available to our students through virtual counseling, to assist any student who may need assistance during this time.”

Alcorn State canceled its mobile pantry for Jan. 18. Mississippi University for Women kept its offices closed this week and extended drop/add until Jan. 23.

This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.


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