Georgia universities making plans to return to campus this fall amid the pandemic


SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The University System of Georgia is being put to the test to keep students and staff safe while returning back to campus in the middle of a global pandemic.

As schools across the state finalize plans for resuming in-person classes this fall, News 3 spoke with local universities about the steps they’re taking to get ready.

“I don’t expect that we will be back to normal anytime soon,” Savannah State University Interim President, Kimberly Ballard-Washington said.

Preparations are underway at Savannah State University and Georgia Southern University with only 49 days left to finalize plans.

“We have about a 292 page guide that sort of spells out different steps that we’ll take,” Georgia Southern University Spokesman, John Lester said.

Both campuses abruptly closed in March after the state saw soaring COVID-19 cases. Before students return to campus adjustments are being made.

“We’re going to have to go to the hybrid model so that some students will go to class on Tuesdays and be taught on Thursdays while the other half of the class will be taught on Thursday and online on Tuesday,” Ballard-Washington said.

Georgia Southern is considering the same model while keeping a plan in their back pocket if campuses are closed again.

“All of our courses that are being prepared this fall our faculty are doing a tremendous amount of work making sure that if the word comes that we’ve got to switch to a different direction we can do that,” Lester said.

Each university created their own plans but will be following all CDC and Georgia Department of Health guidelines.

“We’re wholeheartedly encouraging our community to wear face masks,” Ballard-Washington said.

While not required on both campuses, GSU has ordered 75,000 face coverings for students and staff along with an abundance of hand sanitizer. They’ll also be adding signage to the campus to let people know where to enter and exit without people coming in contact with each other. The cleaning staff at SSU will be cleaning the buildings several times a day.

“I think students are ready to get back into it and we know it’s not going to look exactly the same but we can’t wait to have them back also,” Lester said.

As students and staff return to campus, each university is keeping a second wave of COVID-19 in mind. Students will return to campus on August 17.

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