CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – College of Charleston students are officially back on campus and in the classroom. Leaders say their focus remains on a safe restart of classes for students and the surrounding community.
Students are back in classrooms for the first time since March, it’s something students say is a welcomed return. Leaders are stressing the importance of mask wearing and social distancing to keep new case numbers on campus down.
The return to campus and the classroom comes with an abundance of changes for both staff and students.
“I do feel safe being on campus, I think everyone is doing a great job with wearing masks,” says Sophie Sweeney, a freshman student at the College of Charleston.
Masks, social distancing and limits on large gatherings and parties are some of the changes. COVID-19 guidelines at the forefront for university officials., students like Sweeney and Avery Fidelibus say it’s noticeable.
“Like I couldn’t even bring my mom up to my dorm after I moved in,” says Sweeney.
“Yeah, they are very strict about letting anyone in,” says Fidelibus, a freshman student at the College of Charleston.
For College of Charleston President Andrew Hsu, he says a tour of campus early Monday morning showed most adhering to the mask and social distancing guidelines, something he’s happy to see.
“So far students have been great, they’ve been very responsible,” says Hsu.
Ninety percent of students have returned to campus but not all will visit a classroom for their studies.
“About thirty-five percent of our classes are going to stay online and sixty-five percent of our classes are going to be either in person or hybrid,” says Hsu.
Leaders say they are learning from other campuses where COVID-19 outbreaks have occurred, Hsu says he’s been working with the City of Charleston to prevent similar outbreaks at the College of Charleston.
“We’re also in close collaboration with the police department and the city, so we are partnering closely and are trying to monitor,” says Hsu.
On campus, large gatherings could lead to suspension of students for the semester. Hsu says staff have worked all summer to be prepared in the event of a campus outbreak.
“To make sure that their classes are designed with flexibility in mind,” says Hsu.
For now, students say everyone has a role to play in the return to class.
“I just think it would be good for everyone to keep in mind that we are all in the same boat here and we’re all new,” says Sweeney.
The College of Charleston plans to begin random testing of students for COVID-19 next week.