COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – The University of South Carolina announced Wednesday in-person instruction will resume mid-August.
University officials say the decision comes after weeks of analysis, consideration, and consultation with the Board of Trustees.
“This is a decision that has not been made lightly and will require a commitment from the collective Gamecock Family to ensure public health and safety,” the university said.
In a message to students UofSC President Caslen said the Future Planning Group, an interdisciplinary gathering of public health, clinical medicine, academic and staff experts from across the university, was organized to examine how to implement a safe return to campus in August.
He said that group gathered and analyzed data from every operational aspect of the university and worked closely with public health experts to monitor COVID-19 trends and recommend appropriate measures to implement on-campus going forward.
“Every step of the way, our top priority is your health, safety and wellbeing,” said Caslen. “The in-depth, tireless work of the FPG has given me a new level of understanding and confidence that in-person instruction can safely begin this fall.”
For those who are returning to campus, plans for academics, housing, dining and every aspect of student and campus life for the fall semester are being meticulously formed by the FPG and an increasingly broad group of campus leaders. Plans include the following:
- We will have the capacity to test every Student, Faculty and Staff member for COVID-19 upon return the campus
- We have the capacity to sustain a robust testing program throughout the entire semester
- We are reviewing several comprehensive tracing and tracking apps for early and thorough identification of at-risk contacts
- We have designated ample student housing for those who may require isolation and quarantine, and we are putting in place the support services to provide for their meals, education, and other needs
- We will increase on campus single-occupancy rooms in on-campus residence halls
- We will modify our dining practices in order to reduce close student contact in student dining facilities through “grab and go” meals
- We will make accommodations for high-risk individuals and others who choose to continue online instruction with safeguards for protection against discrimination and stigma
- We will follow clear public health protocols, including social distancing within classrooms, lecture halls, meeting rooms and sports venues, with strong encouragement of proper social distancing off campus
- We will ensure that large class sections will either meet in smaller sections or in online formats and create alternative academic offerings to accommodate safe class gatherings
- We will provide advising over the summer to help all students adjust their course schedules as needed
- And finally, as stated, no student, faculty or staff member will be required to return