Lowcountry colleges prep for fall semester with Delta variant looming

Published: Aug. 9, 2021 at 3:01 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 9, 2021 at 5:48 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Colleges and universities across the Lowcountry are finding a variety of ways to safely offer courses to students this fall, all while keeping a close eye on the COVID-19 delta variant.

College of Charleston has its current plan posted here, but a spokesperson noted they “continue to make modification as we get more guidance from state officials and public health experts.”

College of Charleston President Andrew T. Hsu announced today that, “All students registered or planning to register for classes during the fall 2021 semester must comply with a one-time testing requirement prior to their return to campus. Permitted tests are a COVID-19 PCR or Antigen, and it must be conducted between August 12 and August 19, 2021.”

Students may exempt from the requirement by voluntarily submitting proof they are vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit documentation of a positive COVID-19 test result dated after May 22, 2021.

The college is strongly encouraging vaccinations and mask use on campus, though neither are required. Trident Technical College also has its updated Pandemic re-Entry plan posted online.

It says the college will be implementing social distancing as needed and feasible in each Department.

“If you are not fully vaccinated, we encourage you to wear a mask while indoors on campus. Anyone wishing to wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status, is welcome to continue doing so. Members of the college community must respect an individual’s decision to wear a mask. The college strongly encourages all members of the college community to get vaccinated,” the plan states.

The college said they are offering more virtual, online and hybrid classes than ever before.

16-year-old Sidney Fowler is graduating from Hanahan High School tonight and spent his day at Trident Tech scheduling classes for the fall. He is studying homeland security.

“With the pandemic and everything and me having to stay at home, I kind of started my adult life a little bit earlier,” Fowler said. “I started figuring out what I wanted to do in the everyday world. I hope that I can either get into the Pentagon or CIA, maybe even the FBI. Government work.”

He plans to start his coursework at Trident and transfer later but is appreciative to have an affordable option close to home for now.

Vice President for Education Catharine Almquis says Trident Tech now has more types of classes than ever before.

“Online, hybrid, scheduled online meetings, an opportunity for anyone to be successful in one of those,” Almquis said. “More emphasis on what they’re actually learning, less emphasis on the schedule on which they’re learning those things.”

Fowler prefers in-person classes but most of his are online this year.

Almquis said the pandemic has made it more challenging to plan out in-person courses, but they continue to offer them in several departments.

“Nobody wants to get on an airplane where the aircraft mechanic learned everything from YouTube videos,” she said. “So there are some disciplines where we’re just going to do things face to face because it has to be done that way.”

Regarding masks, Almquis said, “As a courtesy to your colleagues and as a courtesy to everyone else in the class, we’re asking that you wear a mask.”

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