Welcome back, Salkehatchie!
It is wonderful to see our students, faculty, and staff returning to campus again after a long hiatus! At Salk, we understand that our campuses are more than just locations where classes are held--they are learning communities which allow students to forge connections with their professors and with each other. Given that, earlier this year we made the decision--in consultation with university officials and in accordance with best practices--to plan for the safe return to campus for face-to-face classes this fall.
However, in all our decisions, the health and welfare of our entire campus community remains the number one priority. The key was to strike the proper balance between allowing for in-class instruction and student support services on campus and implementing all possible safety and risk mitigation practices. To do that, our campus Risk Mitigation Plan was developed working with university system officials and guided by CDC and DHEC guidelines. At the beginning of the summer we also established a Campus Reopening Task Force comprising the leaders of most campus functional areas, with working groups represented by various faculty and staff. The task force worked throughout the summer to prepare campus to reopen this fall in accordance with our plan. I would like to thank everyone who worked hard to prepare our campuses for this fall.
As classes begin this week, you will notice our campus will be far from normal. Here are just a few highlights:
- All classroom capacities have been reduced, and desks, computer stations and work stations in labs and the libraries have been configured for six-foot distance between them.
- Everyone will be required to wear a mask inside any building on campus, and anytime that six-foot distance with others cannot be maintained.
- Many more of our classes than usual (51%) will be held completely online, and a few will be hybrid, allowing students more options and keeping our overall campus population low at any given time.
- All classrooms have been equipped with web cameras and document cameras to allow for faculty to record all lectures for students who may be required to miss class.
- Campus facilities will be cleaned on a more rigorous schedule and to a higher standard than usual.
- Campus clubs and student activities will be limited, and will follow all guidelines for social distancing.
- Off-campus groups will not be allowed to use facilities on campus without the dean’s approval.
- Most faculty and staff will continue to work remotely, at least part of the time.
- Most student services (including advising and financial aid) will be available in person as well as remotely throughout the fall.
- Most faculty and staff committee meetings will be held virtually.
Since campus first closed this past March, we have all learned more about the virus and the way it spreads and is transferred among individuals. With this knowledge, we believe by adhering to the practices and protocols above we can reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to an acceptable level to allow for instruction and learning on campus to resume this fall. However, as the future impact of COVID-19 in our communities remains uncertain, we recognize the need to remain flexible as changing conditions may require us to alter our approach.
Despite these preparations, even the best plan cannot succeed without the diligent and consistent efforts of everyone to cooperate. As members of our campus community, we all share responsibility to keep ourselves and each other safe, as outlined in the Salkehatchie Pledge. Take the pledge today as a promise to do your part--and to know that others are doing theirs: wear your mask, wash your hands, and keep your distance.
I know this year has been difficult for everyone, and a true hardship for some. But I believe when this crisis is over USC Salkehatchie will emerge stronger and better. Whether you are a student or an employee, know that we are here for you and are committed to your health, your welfare, and to your success. If you require assistance or just would like to talk to someone, please reach out to someone on our campus and we will get you the help you need.
Thank you all for your dedication to our college and to our campus community!
Dean, USC Salkehatchie