Local universities prepare for start of classes


SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Thousands of college students — including those who attend Georgia Southern and Savannah State universities — start classes next week. After months of planning, both campuses have made significant changes.

At GSU, it starts with the move-in process. Vice President for University Communication and Marketing John Lester says students have been moving in stages.

Usually, everyone moves in on one day.

“Things will look a little different,” he said. “We went through and analyzed every single class to figure out how we can meet social distancing guidelines.”

GSU has an online tool called the Cares Center. It helps students, staff and faculty members with anything related to COVID-19.

“So if anyone has questions , or symptoms, or reports that they want to to submit and they don’t know where to go…we have a central portal for that,” explained Lester.

At SSU, there is an email account to answer questions.

“We have in place a COVID-19 triage team,” said Interim Provost/Vice President of Academic Affairs Sametria McFall. “There is an email address that has been set up so faculty, staff and students can send in questions, concerns, etcetera, and there is someone who will follow up.”

McFall says there is assigned seating for in-person classes. She says it will make contact tracing easier.

“For all of us, it has been a challenge…simply just trying to think about all the potential scenarios that could unfold,” she said.

Both universities have new signage. GSU says they have 7,600 new signs to direct students and encourage social distancing. Lester says it’s a must this year when so much is changing.

“We’ve spent months preparing for this and now we’re ready to welcome students back,” he said.

Both universities are offering a mix of socially-distanced in-person classes and online classes. Masks are also required.

SSU says temperature checks are required at the gate and at various locations throughout campus.

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