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VSU’s return plan compared to CDC COVID-19 guidelines

VSU may be testing the waters by reopening campus, but at least they’re meeting guidelines.

VSU’s “Return to Campus Plan” was released on July 1, informing students, faculty, and staff on how the university’s fall 2020 semester will proceed and explaining plans to avoid anyone contracting the virus in the VSU community.

According to the Wall Street Journal, two recent studies showed that wide-scale lockdowns—stay-at-home orders, bans on large gatherings and business closures—prevented millions of infections and deaths around the world.

Unfortunately, this goes against reopening campus and classrooms.  However, part of VSU’s plan is to ensure strict, transparent and clearly communicated health and safety protocols as directed by the University System of Georgia’s Health and Safety Guidelines. The administration says it will be implementing social distancing strategies in classes and research areas.

The plan states that VSU will be utilizing non-curricular rooms to assist in providing larger spaces for classes to properly social distance. For example, the largest available space on campus is the Student Union Ballrooms seating a maximum of 189 students while social distancing. The seating calculations have also been recorded for the University Center Magnolia Room, UC Cypress Room, Whitehead Auditorium, Sawyer Theatre and the Student Union Theatre

According to The Wall Street Journal, “The so-called attack rate—the percentage of people who were infected in a specific place or time—can be very high in crowded events, homes and other spaces where lots of people are in close, prolonged contact.”

In order to help provide a plan for any abrupt event or circumstances, VSU has assembled a plan consisting of three contingencies.

In Contingency Plan 1, fall classes will begin on campus followed by social distancing. Contingency Plan 2 includes fall classes beginning online while Contingency Plan 3 will begin on campus and then shift classes and operations to spend a duration of time online during the semester.

The plan released on July 1 only includes “Contingency Plan 1” reviewing how fall classes and the campus will run while social distancing. It touches on health safety, public service, academics, student life, enrollment management, athletics, communications and fiscal management.

Contingency Plan 1 also mentions professors creating a pivot plan and being prepared to move to and/or from various modalities, including face-to-face with social distancing, hybrid, online, etc.

VSU is encouraging fully online advising and continuing the concierge model if possible. The academic plan is looking toward planning an efficient way for students to enjoy school activities online while practicing social distancing.

The Center for Disease Control has pressed for more individuals to maintain social distancing and to wear their masks lately, as states have reopened and the number of reported cases of Coronavirus has increased.

“The more closely you interact with others, the longer the interaction lasts, the greater the number of people involved in the interaction, the higher the risk of Covid-19 spread,” said Jay Butler, the CDC’s Covid-19 response incident manager.

On July 6, USG updated their COVID-19 webpage with new guidelines following the newest CDC guidelines.

“Effective July 15, University System of Georgia (USG) institutions will require all faculty, staff, students, and visitors to wear an appropriate face covering while inside campus facilities/buildings where six feet social distancing may not always be possible,” the webpage currently reads.

Written by Kayla Pool, Asst. News Editor. Photo courtesy of VSU Website.

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