College of Charleston President Andrew T. Hsu shared the following message regarding return to campus plans with students and families on Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020:
Dear Students and Families,
I hope you are doing well. I’m writing to update you on a few topics as we prepare for the beginning of in-person classes just one week away. This is a big week for the College as we prepare to make this transition from remote to in-person/hybrid instruction. Residence hall move-in begins later this week (remember, to upload your COVID-19 testing documentation at https://cofc.medicatconnect.com or you will not be able to move-in!!), and in-person instruction begins next Monday, September 14.
A few updates:
- First, as you have probably seen or heard in the news, universities across the country have had to place large numbers of students in quarantine and isolation, sometimes putting everyone in residence halls under quarantine or even renting entire hotels near campus to provide enough space. Some universities had to completely close down their residence halls and send everyone living in residence halls home. However, for those quarantined on campus, nothing about these experiences should be viewed as luxurious. While care, food and basic supplies will be provided to affected students, there shouldn’t be an expectation that quarantine and isolation orders equate to a personalized concierge service. Quarantine and isolation are vital ways in which communities slow the spread of this virus, and we expect to quarantine and isolate as necessary on campus as well.
Let me emphasize my point here: quarantine and isolation are not small-probability events and they are not small inconveniences. These protocols are meant to keep those with positive or potentially positive cases away from the general population. It’s not a vacation – your freedoms, movements and activities will be severely restricted until you are cleared to return to campus and in-person classes. And the penalties for violating these orders are serious and could lead to suspension. But if we all follow the proper preventative measures, we can and we will have a productive academic semester.
If you are confused about the difference between isolation and quarantine, please watch this helpful video produced by the College:
- Second, we are launching a beta version of our COVID-19 dashboard today on the College’s Back on the Bricks website. This dashboard, which tracks data back to August 1, 2020, will be updated daily and will provide the number of active diagnosed cases within our campus community (students and employees) and the current number of people in quarantine and isolation, both on and off campus. The dashboard will eventually include additional COVID-19 information and metrics from the city of Charleston, Charleston County and the state of South Carolina. To keep campus informed, this Wednesday and every Wednesday this semester, the College will begin sending out a weekly message to students and employees by text and email with the current number of active cases and a link to the COVID-19 dashboard.
- Third, for students who do not feel comfortable returning to campus for in-person/hybrid instruction, I encourage you to contact your professors to explore alternatives for participating in classes remotely. Please note: while the vast majority of our sections can allow a student to attend either in a hybrid or fully virtual setting, there are some courses that do not easily lend themselves to remote instruction, especially if the class is experiential, such as a laboratory or performance class, and may require in-person participation. If you find yourself in a situation in which your current section does not allow a fully virtual option, all faculty members have been advised to be flexible and as accommodating as possible to find alternative instruction methods for any student who has concerns about returning to in-person classes.
- Fourth, any on-campus residential student who has concerns about living on campus may elect to cancel their on-campus housing assignment without any financial penalty until September 13. On-campus residential students will receive an email from Campus Housing with additional details about this option. Please note: if you are not able to upload your test results, you will not be able to move-in to the residence halls this weekend. For students in that situation, please reach out to Campus Housing (firstname.lastname@example.org) to schedule a later move-in date.
As for students returning to campus for in-person/hybrid instruction, I want to be clear and set some realistic expectations that things will be different this semester. Our campus rules and procedures reflect these differences. We expect students to follow the guidelines as explained in our Back on the Bricks plan, including wearing face coverings, practicing proper social distancing, washing your hands frequently, avoiding large gatherings and parties and following the guidance of Student Health Services and College officials regarding quarantine and isolation orders.
Please remember that College officials continue to closely monitor the situation both in the city and around the state as it relates to COVID-19 and its spread. As I have said repeatedly for several months now, we will pivot as the science and data dictate, but at this time, we are proceeding with our Back on the Bricks plan.
I look forward to seeing many of you moving in this weekend and on campus next Monday – of course, while wearing your face mask!!
Andrew T. Hsu, Ph.D.
College of Charleston