All three of South Carolina Baptists’ universities reopened in August, but with modified class schedules and recommended health and safety measures being implemented during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Anderson University opened its campus Aug. 19 for in-person classes. Under a revised plan, in-person classes are to meet on Labor Day and fall break will be eliminated.
“As we reopen the Anderson University campus, there is nothing more important than the well-being of our students, faculty and staff,” President Evans Whitaker said. “We will implement health and safety measures and respond to any federal and state guidance.
“We are taking the COVID-19 threat seriously,” Whitaker said. “We are deeply saddened that people have died from this dangerous, menacing virus. We want to protect our students and the community, while at the same time do all we can to provide uninterrupted education to meet the urgent demands for degreed professionals and technicians, put South Carolinians back to work, support the economic recovery, and phase in a return to normal as quickly and as safely as possible.”
Charleston Southern University’s modified academic calendar also began on Aug. 19, with a winter break beginning Nov. 25.
CSU required all of its residential students to undergo a COVID-19 nasal swab test prior to their move-in date. “Though the testing requirement does not eliminate all risk, it will mitigate risk as asymptomatic students could unintentionally expose others to COVID-19 upon their return to campus,” Laurel Glover, assistant professor of public health, said. Glover also serves as the university infection control and COVID-19 coordinator.
Classrooms at CSU were modified to allow for social distancing and plexiglass barriers for faculty. All courses are being recorded for students who do not feel comfortable in an in-person environment and for those who may feel ill. Many courses may also be completed fully online.
“Although 2020 typically indicates ‘perfect vision,’ our experience in the year 2020 has been anything but,” President Dondi Costin said in a video to the CSU family. “We may not have foreseen how this year would unfold, but I’m comforted by the fact that God placed the right people at the right time in the life of Charleston Southern University — as it says in [the book of] Esther.”
North Greenville University’s students returned to campus on Aug. 18, with undergraduate classes starting Aug. 20. The university plans to operate on its regular academic calendar for the Fall 2020 semester, with a scheduled fall break and Thanksgiving break. NGU’s online and graduate programs began Aug. 10 at NGU’s Tim Brashier Campus in Greer.
NGU’s campuses have been sanitized and deeply cleaned over the summer, with many spaces being completely renovated. “It remains our highest priority to provide as safe an environment as possible as we seek to fulfill our mission faithfully,” said President Gene Fant.
“We need Christ-centered education now more than ever, and we have prioritized in-person instruction because it is so much a part of this process. We need Christlike leaders and learners to invent the future and boldly lead us into it,” Fant said. “And we have established protocols that we believe will allow this to occur as safely as possible.”
Public health protocols are part of a “return to normal with new realities” on all three campuses. Among the protocols being implemented are regular temperature checks of students and employees; facilitation of testing; physical distancing measures; disinfection procedures; use of protective masks; classroom spacing adjustments; and restructuring of large group gatherings and contact activities such as athletics, concerts and campus worship services.
The decision to reopen came as the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education and the South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities both expressed support for the intention of the state’s higher education institutions cautiously returning to campus operations.