SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Faculty at Savannah State University are back on campus this week, and students will be back in class on Aug. 17.
The university, like any other school, is learning to adjust in a time of COVID-19, from class sizes to cleaning procedures.
Over the summer, SSU leaders worked to come up with a plan to reopen campus safely. A big part of that is coming up with a classroom model that can incorporate CDC social distancing guidelines.
This fall, SSU students will have the option to take classes online, in-person or a combination of the two.
“Most of our classes I will say will be hybrid. What that means is, students, say they’re taking a Tuesday-Thursday class. A group of them will go on Tuesday, the other group will go on Thursday. And they’ll be online the day they are not in the classroom,” SSU Interim President Kimberly Ballard-Washington said.
Ballard-Washington says while some settings like labs or trips out on a boat for marine science courses obviously can’t be done online, most classes will work in a hybrid model.
“Our students come to Savannah State because they want a very special experience. And we are dedicated to giving them that experience whether they are online, hybrid or every class face-to-face,” Ballard-Washington said.
With regard to sanitizing and cleaning common spaces, classrooms, dorms and other points of contact around campus, Ballard-Washington says the university’s facilities department went through special training to learn how to clean and sanitize to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. Each office and classroom will also have cleaning supplies.
“We’ve been working diligently since the beginning of the pandemic to get supplies in, and right now we’re in a good space,” Ballard-Washington said.
Masks will also be required on campus, and the interim president explained how that would be enforced.
“Masks are not a police action here at Savannah State University. For students, it will be through our student judicial process, and for faculty and staff it’s an employment issue. So, it’ll be addressed just like any other policy,” Ballard-Washington said.
She says for any suspected cases of COVID-19 on campus, self-isolation will be required. For conformed cases, those infected will have to quarantine.
“We’re going to do our best to conduct proper contact tracing, work with the Department of Public Health, but do our own also so that we can quickly get everyone into isolation that needs to be,” Ballard-Washington said.
Ballard-Washington also says the university will do its own coronavirus testing with results in days.
“We will be starting a new process with Testing for America next week, and I understand that one will be about a three day turnaround,” she said.
Ultimately, Ballard-Washington says it’ll be up to everyone on campus to heed the rules and guidelines to make the semester a success, and to keep everyone safe and healthy.
“What I would like everyone to recognize is that it is incumbent upon us as individuals to do our part in keeping each other safe. Our staff, our faculty and our students must take an active role in this. And if we all work together, I’m sure that we will get over this hurdle, and be able to move forth,” she said.