CLEMSON, SC (WYFF) - Clemson University President Jim Clements is outlining the plan for students returning in the fall.
"Specifically, we have made critical decisions around face-coverings, testing and our academic plan that will provide our students, employees and communities with important safeguards against the spread of COVID-19," Clements said in a letter to students.
Face coverings to be mandatory in many instances
The university is going to require all students and employees to wear face coverings in a number of circumstances while on university property.
Cloth face coverings are required:
• While in university buildings, including housing and dining facilities.
• During all university programs held in non-university buildings.
• In outdoor spaces on campus where appropriate physical distancing cannot be guaranteed.
• In all university vehicles and while using university transportation/mass transit.
Face coverings are not required:
• When alone in private offices.
• When alone in on-campus housing rooms.
• When not in close contact with another person, such as walking alone outside.
The university has purchased 70,000 reusable cloth face coverings, and each student, faculty and staff member will receive two coverings upon return to campus or other university locations.
COVID-19 testing to be instituted to monitor spread of COVID-19
The university will require all students and employees to be tested for COVID-19 virus and, where possible, receive serologic testing for disease antibodies, prior to their arrival on campus in the fall.
Anyone who works for, lives at or is enrolled in a Clemson University program or facility must secure a negative COVID-19 test result within five days of returning to campus or other university locations for the fall semester. Those who test positive will be required to self-isolate for 10 days before returning to a Clemson location. Details on testing locations and how to report tests will be provided in the near future.
Once the academic year begins, the university will conduct voluntary random-sample testing of students and employees on a regular basis to track prevalence and spread of the disease in the university community.
No changes to academic calendar; classroom modifications underway
As of now, no changes have been made to the published fall academic calendar, but all instructors have been asked to prepare to pivot to entirely online learning should the circumstances dictate.
They will closely monitor the progression of COVID-19 to determine whether a move to online instruction and final exams is necessary following the Thanksgiving holiday.
They are preparing to offer mainly in-class learning this year, with accommodations being made for proper physical distancing. Online delivery options will be available for almost every class.
• The university’s goal is for at least 75% of all courses to have some class periods dedicated to in-person interactions among instructors and students.
• All classes with in-person components will also be blended with online components.
• Cameras and microphones will be installed in more than 400 classrooms to allow for live video streaming and recorded delivery of instruction.
• Classroom layouts are being adjusted to allow a minimum of 6 feet of physical distancing between individuals.
Commencement update for May and August 2020 graduates
Clements said he pledged to the class of 2020 that they would hold in-person commencement ceremonies on campus once it was safe to do so.
He said those details have not been finalized, but he did provide an update on the plans to celebrate both our May and August 2020 graduating classes.
They will postpone the traditional August graduation ceremony.
Given that change, they are now planning to hold on-campus commencement ceremonies for our May and August 2020 graduates the weekend of Oct. 9-11.
More details about the October commencement exercises will be provided in the coming weeks.
"As you can see, the situation around future University operations remains extremely fluid," Clements said. "Be assured, however, that our staff and faculty remain committed to providing a great, and safe, experience for our students in the upcoming academic year. Being United as Tigers when it comes to battling the pandemic gives us the best possible chance of enjoying a successful and safe academic year. I am confident that the Clemson Family will rise to the occasion and look forward to sharing more details of our return plan with you very soon."
“I’m excited to start my new life here, this is a big change,” said Sydneey Maibach, who will begin her PH.D. in Mathematics at Clemson in the Fall. Maibach’s senior year of undergrad in West Virginia was already upended by COVID-19. Now, so too will her first year of graduate school.
“If our professor’s wearing a mask, I’m not gonna see him talking to me,” Maibach said. “So I think that might be odd, because I read lips a lot.”
However, Maibach stresses she's just grateful that classes will be held in person.
“I was really scared that everything was gonna be put online, because I don’t know how you get a masters in mathematics online,” laughed Maibach. “I’m really happy they decided to go (with) in-class ... I was really worried ... so that’s a big relief.”