Some Presbyterian College students will make face coverings to donate to organizations near the PC campus. Others will create hand sanitizer to use across campus.
In the past, PC students rang in the fall semester by volunteering at various organizations across Laurens County on Service Day. Due to the pandemic, service opportunities, like the ones designed to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, will take place over four days to allow for social distancing.
Service Day is one of the many ways the fall semester will look different at PC.
A college campus during the pandemic
"This fall will look different than any semester we've had at PC," said Dr. Joy Smith, PC's vice president for campus life and dean of students. "We've been working hard all summer to get to the point where students can return.
"We've been following the guidelines established by the CDC and are taking extra precautions in an effort to remain healthy during this time."
While students were away, Plexiglas barriers and signage communicating precautionary measures, like washing hands, wearing a mask, and practicing social distancing, were installed across many areas of campus. Residence halls and classrooms were thoroughly cleaned over the summer, and they will continue to be regularly cleaned this fall.
The College is working to space students out in classrooms so that everyone may maintain six feet of distance from one another. Other facilities and outdoor spaces will be used instead of smaller areas where social distancing cannot be maintained. Also, the College has provided face coverings for students, professors, and staff members to wear when they can't maintain social distance from others.
Adjustments to the academic calendar and classes
The academic calendar and the format for classes have also been adjusted.
"Given that we believe personal, face-to-face interaction between faculty and students is a hallmark of a PC education," Provost Dr. Don Raber wrote in an email to students, "we are not offering at this time a model for students to take all classes online, nor are we expecting faculty to teach all classes online."
Classes will take place in a mix of in-person, online, and hybrid formats.
"Roughly 10% of our classes will be completely online, as individual faculty have been approved to teach in that fashion, but there will be an extensive mix of hybrid approaches that reflect flexibility, creativity, and the commitment PC has made to in-person instruction for the fall semester," Raber wrote.
Classes will begin on Monday, Aug. 17, a week earlier than originally scheduled. The fall semester will end on November 25, a day before Thanksgiving and two weeks earlier than originally scheduled. The compressed academic calendar minimizes travel during the semester and provides extra flexibility in the late autumn and early winter if circumstances change.
Preparing to Return to Campus
Students, along with a maximum of two who will help them move into their residence halls, were asked to self-monitor for 14 days before returning to campus. They were asked not to arrive if they have any symptoms related to Covid-19.
As they arrive on campus, students are going through a health screening before being allowed to move in. Students or helpers who show any signs of Covid-19 are being asked to leave. Students must follow the CDC guidelines for isolation and The advice of their medical provider before being permitted to return.
Students, professors, and staff members have been asked to sign a pledge that they will follow the precautions to stop the spread of the coronavirus. The pledge states that those on campus:
● understand that everyone in the campus community shares the responsibility for the health of the community
● will wear a mask or shield whenever appropriate to protect others and themselves
● will commit to engage in frequent hand washing and cleaning of surfaces
● will adhere to social distancing and gathering guidelines in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19
● will self-monitor for symptoms of the virus and follow the College’s guidance for quarantine if exposed and for isolating if sick
Settling in on Campus
The service events, like making masks and hand sanitizer, are two of many events scheduled to acclimate students to campus. During Welcome Week, students will take part in activities and learn about academics at PC, all while wearing face coverings, keeping six feet apart, and taking precautions required this semester.
"The ultimate goal is to get back to normal at some point," Smith said. "Yes, this semester will look different, but we are determined for students to enjoy the unique college experience that only PC can provide.”