The University of South Carolina announced Wednesday that the plan to resume in-person instruction on the Columbia campus will take place for the fall semester, beginning mid-August.
In a letter to students, faculty and staff, UofSC's President Bob Caslen outlined the ways the university will mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on campus while delivering an educational experience to more than 33,000 enrolled students.
Caslen told the university community the decision to return was based on multiple factors, but ultimately guided by the principle that students and staff's safe return is possible when combined with sound public health practices. Caslen and a group of medical and academic officials met for weeks to plan, according to UofSC representatives.
“Every step of the way, our top priority is your health, safety and wellbeing. The in-depth, tireless work of the group has given me a new level of understanding and confidence that in-person instruction can safely begin this fall,” Caslen wrote. “As we prepare for August, we recognize that we are embarking on a new normal that will demand from each of us a commitment to public health and safety.”
The plan also includes a phased in return of some students, faculty and staff over the summer, while regular classes continue remotely.
Other highlights of the new plan:
-COVID-19 testing available for all students, faculty and staff
-Comprehensive identification of positive cases and contact tracing
-An increase in single-occupancy rooms in residence halls
-A combination of public health protocols, including social distancing for classrooms, lecture halls, social gatherings and sports activities
-Modified dining options
-Space on campus for safe quarantine and self-isolation if necessary
-Strong encouragement of proper social distancing off campus
-Alternative arrangement for high-risk students and employees