College of Charleston President Andrew T. Hsu sent the following message to the campus community on May 15, 2020:
Dear Campus Community,
I hope this message finds you doing well and that you and your families are bearing these uncertain times as best you can. I know this has not been easy, at all. I appreciate everyone’s hard work and dedication, and I continue to be amazed at everyone’s ingenuity and resilience.
As you know, many states and businesses are beginning the long and arduous process of opening back up. I previously announced via campus email on May 1 our own formation of numerous working groups on campus that are tasked with making plans on how we will return to campus and what that will look like.
To that end, I want to share the following updates:
- The College is extending its moratorium on campus events and activities through the end of the fiscal year. That means all events that are sponsored by the College of Charleston or are sponsored by an off-campus entity on the physical College of Charleston campus are canceled through June 30, 2020.
- At this time, new student and family orientation sessions will be held online this summer. The Office of New Student Programs staff is currently working on a schedule of events. If you have participated in orientation in the past, you will be contacted about the new schedule by Friday, May 29. However, the College understands the importance of an in-person experience on campus for new students, and, if conditions continue to improve, we will look at options for hosting different in-person engagements for new students before the start of the fall semester.
- In accordance with guidance from the South Carolina State Human Resources Division, S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, the Centers for Disease Control, executive orders in place by the S.C. governor and the rate of viral spread in the community, the College is developing a multi-phased return-to-work plan that will enable us to carefully and safely ramp up our return to campus over the summer with the goal of preparing for the return of students to campus in the fall. The full details of this plan will be announced later next week.
- The College hopes to activate Phase One of its return-to-work plan on Tuesday, May 26 (following the Memorial Day holiday). Phase One is primarily intended to enable the return of employees who have been unable to work remotely and/or have been unable to complete critical tasks that can only be done on the physical campus. At this time, only about 10 percent of the College’s workforce is on campus. During Phase One, my expectation is that we will not exceed more than 20 percent of the workforce on campus at any one time.
Let me be clear: During Phase One, the vast majority of our employees will continue to work remotely.
- To prepare for Phase One, the College will host a series of virtual training sessions for supervisors on Wednesday, May 20, to help them determine which employees would qualify for a Phase One return. The Office of Human Resources will send out calendar invites to supervisors to schedule these virtual training sessions.
- The College received approximately $3.8 million in the first round of funding from the federal CARES Act. This money is intended to support eligible students who were enrolled in college during the spring semester and experienced a disruption in their learning environment because of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The College developed a plan for the distribution of these funds to students based on financial aid filings, with priority given to students with the greatest financial need.
Students eligible to receive funding were notified directly via email on May 11, 2020, and were provided with instructions for receiving these funds. Individual grants ranged from $400 up to $1,000.
- The College is hosting its next virtual town hall meeting for faculty and staff on Wednesday, May 20, at 4 p.m. At that time, we will be able share more details about our return-to-work plan as well as try to answer any questions you may have.
An important component of our return-to-work plan will be putting into place certain health and safety protocols, such as sanitizing stations, deep-cleaning schedules, the wearing of face coverings and requirements for social distancing. We continue to make progress in these areas and will communicate those health and safety protocols in the coming days.
For the campus to be successful, we will have to practice safety collectively. This idea that we are all in this together is now more important than ever. Our desire to reopen campus to our students in the fall is contingent on our entire campus community’s ability to be disciplined in following safety and health procedures – and that doesn’t even factor in state and federal restrictions if pandemic numbers spike in the coming weeks and months.
But, I know we can do it. I have seen and felt the spirit of this campus, and I know how strong we are together. Yes, we can do this together!
Andrew T. Hsu, Ph.D.
College of Charleston