Fall Semester Update for Students from President Dorman
Fall Semester Update for Students from President Dorman
We are looking forward to your return as we restart face-to-face instruction for the fall semester! While we are eager to bring the campus community together, there is still much to do in preparation for your arrival; but I need you to know that fall semester will not be “business as usual.” And, while there are some changes that will occur, what has not changed is our commitment to bring you a highly challenging academic experience with instructors who truly care about their students.
I am writing this letter to you to provide you with some guidance about fall semester. As I begin, however, I would like to remind each of us of our campus values of Reason, Respect, and Responsibility. We believe we have a responsibility to provide you with a safe and healthy environment to pursue your academic dreams. Likewise, we have a responsibility to those who work at GC, to protect their health and safety. With that in mind, we believe the guidelines we have developed are reasonable and are in keeping with our review of Georgia Department of Public Health and CDC guidance. Therefore, I hope you will respect your health and the health and safety of other students and those who work on campus to comply with the guidelines we have developed. Even though you may not feel vulnerable yourself, I hope that you will respect the health and safety of others and follow these basic guidelines.
As always, the health and safety of our campus community remain our top priorities. We will comply with executive orders and directives from the Governor’s office. These guidelines adhere to guidance and directives from the Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Now, here are some guidelines for fall semester:
Academic Calendar: To reduce risks associated with holiday travel, we have revised our academic calendar so that students will not return to campus after the Thanksgiving weekend. Fall semester will begin a few days earlier on August 12 and classes will end on Nov. 24. Final examinations will take place online. There will be no fall break this year and, in fact, I would request that you plan to come to campus and stay until the Thanksgiving break, if entirely possible.
Academic Classrooms: We are planning for face-to-face, on-campus instruction with social distancing. Students can expect classroom settings to be reconfigured and section sizes to be reduced to allow for social distancing. We have brought some larger rooms on the schedule, and we are configuring them as classrooms to allow for more social distancing. Rotating class schedules and synchronous online pedagogy may also be implemented by faculty members to further reduce the number of students in labs and classrooms. In addition, some classrooms are being modified with plexiglass shields so that professors can lecture safely. In a limited number of cases, some classes may be taught entirely online while others will be augmented in a hybrid format using digital and online technologies. Faculty members will continue to work with any student that has been exposed to or becomes ill because of COVID-19 to ensure they can continue to make academic progress during periods of quarantining or self-isolation. Returning students should carefully review their class schedule in PAWS as class location changes may have occurred since spring registration activities.
Regarding clinical, student teaching or internships, students must follow the provisions and requirements of the site where the clinical, student teaching or internship, is being conducted. If the student is uncomfortable with the requirements of the site, they should contact their university coordinator. The university will work with sites and students on an individual basis to ensure that requirements are met in case of issues that arise.
Campus Environment: The University has been reconfiguring common areas on campus to ensure that people are spatially distant as part of our mitigation efforts against COVID-19. To support these efforts, group events or activities in the fall semester that involve physical crowds on campus will be discouraged. Those offices that experience frequent in-person interaction, including the Business Office, the Bobcat Card Office as well as other front-line areas of campus, may have plexiglass barriers or other relevant barriers to prevent transmission of the coronavirus. The campus will feature new hand sanitizer dispensers and social distance markings in strategic areas of campus to minimize people density in certain areas of our campus, including campus dining locations.
Campus Life: In an effort to prevent crowds and minimize people density in areas on campus, the Division of Student Life has been preparing programming related to campus life and student activities that will take place in a virtual environment for the fall. Face-to-face programming will be greatly reduced, and student clubs and organizations will conduct most of their activities virtually. Also, there will be no recreational sports for the fall semester to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19 among our students.
The Division of Student Life has created a “Campus Coach Connections” program to help both new and returning students transition to campus life. Throughout the summer, Campus Coaches will engage students on a weekly basis to connect them to co-curricular programs and services and connect them with other Bobcats. At the start of the fall semester, Campus Coaches will engage with returning students as well to help ensure a smooth transition back to campus. All offices and services related to student affairs will remain open, although there will be an intentional effort to ensure social distancing is maintained.
The Wellness Center will be open although a number of preventative measures will be put in place. There will be more frequent cleaning schedules along with additional spacing to further separate workout equipment to facilitate social distancing. Contact sports will be eliminated, and we will limit the number of people using the Wellness Center at any given time.
Residential Life: The move-in process this fall will occur over several days (August 1-3 & 8-10) to stagger the arrival of students and decrease the likelihood of crowding. Families will select a move-in date and time using an online site that will be communicated shortly to incoming students. The Housing Office will communicate additional details regarding what to expect for the move-in process along with other considerations on packing supplies. In an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19, all community areas in the residence halls will be closed for the semester with the exception of laundry stations. Use of elevators will be limited and social distancing is advised at all times throughout the residence hall. Individual rooms will be considered personal spaces, shared by two students per room. Visitors to the residence halls will not be allowed for the fall semester. If any student becomes ill, he or she will be expected to self-quarantine and self-isolate from their home, not in the residence halls. Look for more information to be provided from the GC Department of Housing within the coming days.
Dining Services: Dining services at The Max will be open, although the number of admitted patrons will be limited to adhere to guidance regarding social distancing. There will be no self-service stations in The Max and disposable utensils will be used wherever possible. In addition, seating areas will be physically reconfigured to ensure spatial distancing is maintained. The University will also expand the grab-and-go options and prepare boxed meals to provide more options for students and to further minimize crowding in our dining areas. The Subway location on campus will be temporarily closed while the Chick-fil-A will remain open with spatially reconfigured seating areas.
Parking and Transportation: In an effort to decrease ridership on our buses at any given time, there may be changes to our routes and schedules. Buses will be cleaned more often, and we encourage everyone to wear a mask at all times while on the bus. Riders will be urged to spread out on the bus.
Hygiene Guidelines: Upon our return to campus in the fall, we are expecting all students, faculty and staff to follow the guidelines specified by the Georgia Department of Public Health and the CDC. These guidelines currently include:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Cover your cough and sneezes with a tissue or inside your elbow.
Face Masks (UPDATED JULY 6, 2020): Effective July 15, 2020, all USG institutions will require all faculty, staff, students, and visitors to wear an appropriate face covering while inside campus facilities and buildings where six feet social distancing may not always be possible. Use of face coverings will be in addition to, and is not a substitute for, social distancing. Face coverings are not required in one’s own housing suite or residence hall, when alone in an enclosed office or study room, or in campus outdoor settings where social distancing requirements are met.
Anyone not using a face covering when required will be asked to wear one or must leave the area. Repeated refusal to comply with the requirement may result in discipline through the applicable conduct code for faculty, staff or students. Reasonable accommodations may be made for those who are unable to wear a face covering for documented health reasons.
Social Distancing: We are asking all students, faculty and staff to continue to maintain social distancing. This means, whenever possible, at least 6 feet of distance should be maintained from others, to avoid gathering in groups. In addition, we ask everyone to avoid handshaking and any other unnecessary person-to-person contact. We also advise against using other people’s phones, desks, office spaces or other personal items to prevent the possible spread of COVID-19.
Testing: At this time there is no directive to offer testing to otherwise healthy students. Any student who gets sick or is exposed will consult with Student Health Services. If it is determined that a COVID-19 test is needed, then Health Services will arrange for the student to be tested at an appropriate testing site. We continue to monitor the Georgia Department of Public Health and CDC regarding testing requirements.
If you become sick: If you become sick during the semester, we ask that you notify your professors and do not go to class. You should immediately consult Student Health Services or your private physician. Student Health will determine if a COVID-19 test is warranted. If needed, they will direct you to the appropriate testing site and will direct you to self-isolate. If you are determined to be COVID 19 positive you must quarantine for 14 days. You will be asked to quarantine from your home, not on campus. During the quarantine period, upon notifying your professors, they will work with you to complete assignments from home. You may return to campus when student health determines you have either provided a note from a provider or that you have met the CDC guidelines to ending quarantine. Faculty will work with the student during their quarantine period to adjust for assignments.
Travel: The CDC offers important guidelines regarding international and cruise ship travel. There is widespread, ongoing transmission of novel coronavirus worldwide (see Global COVID-19 Pandemic Notice). If you have traveled internationally in the past 14 days, stay home and monitor your health. Stay home for 14 days from the time you returned home from international travel. During this 14-day period, take these steps to monitor your health and practice social distancing:
- Take your temperature with a thermometer two times a day and monitor for fever. Also watch for cough or trouble breathing. Use this temperature log to monitor your temperature.
- Stay home and avoid contact with others. Do not go to work or school.
- Do not take public transportation, taxis, or ride-shares.
- Keep your distance from others (about 6 feet or 2 meters).
Concluding Remarks: The University continues to receive guidance from relevant state and public health officials along with directives from the University System of Georgia. As a result, we expect changes along the way as new information emerges and as guidance and directives are adjusted. I ask that you please remain flexible, and I pledge that we will continue to communicate more specifics as we prepare and implement the guidance and directives that we receive.
I recognize that these are very unusual and unprecedented times for all of us. Please know that we are working diligently along with the University System of Georgia to provide you with a robust educational experience while ensuring the health and safety of everyone. There are still many more details that are being worked out as we prepare for the Fall semester, but we are excited to welcome you back to campus!
With Bobcat Pride,
Steve M. Dorman