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College of Charleston starts off school year with COVID-19 protocols

Published: Aug. 20, 2021 at 10:05 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 21, 2021 at 6:35 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The College of Charleston is getting ready to welcome students back into school next week.

On Friday, the college kicked things off with their first move-in day. Many of the students are returning to in-person classes, and they will still have some COVID-19 protocols in place.

CofC President Andrew Hsu said that while social distancing isn’t required, face masks are required for students, faculty members, and staff. The college’s board of trustees made the decision on Tuesday after an emergency meeting.

“It’s really a concern from many faculty members that they have small children at home, and they are taking care of elderly parents who are at risk,” Hsu said. “There are small children who aren’t vaccinated yet, so that’s really the reason behind that.”

Students are required to submit a negative COVID-19 test before returning to campus, and while vaccines aren’t required, they are encouraged. The school is offering several incentives for students who get the vaccine.

The school says they have no plan to switch in-person classes to online learning, but there are ways students can take courses virtually.

“There is still a selection of online courses, so if students wanted to remain virtual and take all their courses online, they would work with an advisor to do that,” Alicia Caudill, CofC Executive Vice President for Student Affairs, said.” But we know that most our students wanted to be in person so that’s what we’re planning for so most students will be in in person classes.”

Faculty members that have an accommodation request will have to go through the American Disabilities Act or the Family Medical Leave Act to teach online.

Some faculty members have expressed concern with the accommodation process, and other policies in place for the Fall semester.

Nearly 300 faculty members anonymously participated in a survey conducted in early August by the American Association of University Professors’ CofC chapter. Most of the respondents said they are uncomfortable with the current COVID-19 procedures and are worried about safety.

While the concern about masking has already been addressed, there are still several issues like lack of mandatory vaccine policies and social distancing that were mentioned in the report.

According to the College of Charleston’s COVID-19 dashboard, the school is currently monitoring 40 cases. In response to some concerns, President Hsu said the school is doing what they can within their limits.

“Right now, we’re following CDC and DHEC guidelines as closely as possible. We are doing the maximum that we’re allowed my South Carolina law, so we think right now our campuses and our classrooms are safe,” Hsu said.

On Monday August 23, the school will be welcoming new students to convocation. They will be entering through the Cistern Yard, and the school is inviting community members, current students, faculty, and staff to help welcome the students.

The school will be doing the same thing for second year students on Wednesday evening.

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