College of Charleston President Andrew T. Hsu shared the following message regarding return-to-campus reminders and updates with the campus community on Friday, Sept. 11, 2020: 

Dear Campus Community,

As we prepare for the first day of in-person and hybrid classes on Monday, I’m writing with a few reminders and important updates.

But first, I want to say thank you. It seems especially poignant to express gratitude to everyday heroes on a day like this: September 11 – a day 19 years ago that shocked America and also would remind us of our incredible collective power to respond to tragedy.

In so many ways similar to that momentous day, this past spring and summer have been extraordinary on every single level, and you – our students, faculty and staff – have been incredible. Your resiliency, positivity and creativity in the face of uncertainty are nothing less than inspiring. I am honored and humbled to be your president.

The amount of preparation and planning that has occurred to get us to this point is simply staggering. Every one of you, from our newest students to our longest-serving employees, has contributed in some way to bring us to the doorstep of this historic moment. And yet, we are not done. The commitment to health and safety that has driven our decisions from day one of this pandemic does not end with our return to campus. In fact, we are entering a critical new phase in which we must remain vigilant in the fight against this deadly virus.

I implore you: do not let your guard down now. Review our Back on the Bricks plan, follow our campus guidelines, wear a mask, stay six feet away from others, avoid gathering in groups and wash your hands frequently. Monitor your health and your behaviors. Please continue to report positive COVID-19 tests using the Everbridge app. And keep your peers in check, respectfully correct those who are violating our guidelines and report possible violations of our COVID-19 policies.

I’m disappointed to hear of recent isolated reports of people not wearing face masks on campus. In case there is any confusion about our campus guidelines, let me be clear: both face masks and six feet of social distancing are required on campus; it is not one or the other. And these guidelines apply to campus visitors as well, such as family members and guests.

If you are a student, please review the COVID-19 addendum to the Student Code of Conduct, which adds requirements for students to follow all health and safety directives and guidelines issued by local, state and federal agencies as well as campus officials. Failure to abide by these directives could result in disciplinary action, including possible suspension from the College.

But if everyone does what they are supposed to do and the spread of the COVID-19 virus remains manageable (at a city, county and state level), we will remain on campus until the Thanksgiving break. If we fail, we may be forced to pull the plug on this semester. None of us wants that to happen. Let’s be a national leader in higher education. Let’s show the world why the College of Charleston is special and why we are willing to make sacrifices in order to live, learn, teach and work on the most beautiful campus in America.

Now, a few important updates:

  • While the College is providing at least two reusable face masks to all students and employees, we understand that accidents happen. Masks will be lost, forgotten or damaged. But these are not acceptable excuses for showing up to campus or class without a mask on. To provide a safety net for the first few days of classes, disposable masks will be available beginning Monday at the following campus locations:
    • All three P.O.D. Express locations: Maybank Hall, Education Center and Rita Hollings Science Center
    • Stern Student Center, 71 George St.
    • Campus Services HQ, 162 Calhoun St.

These masks are available for emergencies and mishaps; please do not treat them as your personal supply. 

  • Another important point about face masks: not all face masks provide the same level of protection.
    • Masks with one-way valves or vents that allow air to be exhaled through a hole in the material do not prevent the person wearing the mask from transmitting COVID-19. Therefore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend these types of masks for controlling virus spread.
    • Neck gaiters are also not recommended. These circular fabric tubes worn around the neck and pulled up over the mouth and nose may be among the least effective types of face coverings for preventing the spread of respiratory droplets, according to a recent study by Duke University.
  • Earlier this week, I announced the launch of the College’s COVID-19 Dashboard on the Back on the Bricks website. We have now added a second dashboard on the same page that includes external metrics from the City of Charleston and the Medical University of South Carolina that my administration will monitor regularly to inform our decisions.
  • For a helpful round-up of the many other new additions and guidelines, please read Return to Campus: Everything You Need to Know on The College Today.
  • This weekend, starting today, residential students move into campus housing. I want to remind faculty to be flexible with their students who are moving in now or who may be delayed and will be moving to campus in the days to come.
  • Lastly, I want to mention that many of our staff and faculty will be out in force beginning Monday continuing through Thursday to welcome students back to campus and help them navigate our modified building circulation plans, entrances and exits. As part of Weeks of Welcome, the Office of Student Life has organized groups of Pathfinders who will be stationed at tents around campus with face coverings, hand sanitizer, campus maps and treats. I’ll be walking around campus from 11 a.m. to noon on Monday with my good buddy Clyde the Cougar. Please stop and say hello and take a selfie with us – socially distanced, of course!

As I mentioned before, these are extraordinary times that require extraordinary measures. Fortunately, I know that we are extraordinary people, and we can and we will make this work – together.

I look forward to seeing many of you on campus next week – even if it is only your eyes above your face covering!

Go Cougars!



Andrew T. Hsu, Ph.D.
College of Charleston