Spartan Safe Start
“Spartan Safe Start” is an adaptable approach that balances the need for a positive learning environment with the realities we all face during this COVID-19 pandemic. Classes will begin on time, on August 20. Students who wish to return to campus to live and learn will have options to consider. Conversely, students who prefer to continue to learn remotely will be encouraged to do so.
We will have reduced numbers of students in classrooms and residence halls to comply with applicable health and safety directives and protocols. We will also adhere to strict social distancing guidelines and other recommended precautionary measures in all classrooms, public areas, and offices on campus. We will support COVID-19 testing and “tracing” those who become infected to help contain the virus.
On-campus options will increase or decrease in response to various benchmarks. These benchmarks will be developed over the summer by a COVID-19 Response Team led by Mary Bucher, APRN, our director of Health Services, and comprised of representatives from across campus. Director Bucher will also lead staff training on how to implement best health practices as our faculty and staff return to campus beginning in June.
Our goal is to return to normal campus operations as soon as possible. We will roll out the specifics of this plan during the coming weeks. Be on the lookout for an invitation to our virtual Town Hall meeting, during which leaders from across campus will be available to address questions you may have about our “Spartan Safe Start” plan.
Our primary goal is to deliver the college experience students and their families expect and deserve, while keeping the health and safety of students, faculty and staff as our highest priority. Whatever circumstances await us in the fall, USC Upstate will be ready to provide educational excellence in the safest manner possible.
This “Spartan Safe Start” plan also means that we will ask you to help us begin and end the fall semester in the right way. Please encourage your loved ones to continue to practice safe social distancing, and to follow campus guidelines when they are here. Please help us to help them. We will do all we can to be proactive in this plan, and we will need your help to be successful.
The Safe Start Plan
Reduced Numbers of Students in Classrooms and Residence Halls
In August, the initial group on campus will include residential students who will largely occupy single rooms, and who can be accommodated in keeping with the applicable government, health, and safety directives and protocols. USC Upstate will provide in-person counseling, disability support, health services, career planning, dining services and leadership experience as social distancing allows. In addition, we will take advantage of technology in providing services crucial to students, both those on campus and those studying remotely. We will increase availability of “telehealth services” as well as “teleadvising,” “telefitness,”and even “teleleadership development.” In implementing Spartan Safe Start, we will rely heavily on our deans and department chairs to work with their students in a planned, coordinated fashion to help them stay safe during their studies. Our academic advisors will work closely with incoming freshmen and new transfer students, whether they live in the residence halls or travel to campus, to help ensure a successful transition as they join our university community.
Promotion of Social Distancing and Prevention Protocols
For everyone on campus in the fall, we will adhere to strict social distancing guidelines and other recommended precautionary measures in all classrooms, public areas and offices. In conjunction with our Health Services team, we will support COVID-19 testing, contact tracing measures, and those who may become ill. With assistance from our Student Affairs and Communications teams, we will develop campaigns that highlight federal and state guidelines for lowering the risk of infection.
A Cautious Walk Toward Normal
Our goal is to return to normal campus operations as soon as conditions permit. A return to full face-to-face teaching and all students returning to campus will be considered only after benchmarks set by our COVID-19 Response Team have been met. We are announcing this plan now to provide as much time as possible for all of us to prepare. After what everyone has gone through this past spring and the tremendous efforts so many of you made as we moved quickly from a normal term to remote teaching, I recognize that everyone needs time to prepare for classes in the fall.
How We Will Prepare for a Spartan Safe Start
Our talented and dedicated faculty will prepare to offer courses in blended delivery modes when the term begins. These methods will be described in more detail in further communications and resources we will publish. Some faculty members will continue to work in their labs or studios. We recognize that some students may choose or need to spend the entire semester learning remotely. The move from blended learning to more hybrid delivery, and eventually face-to-face delivery, will come with time. We will commit additional resources, time and energy to making sure faculty and students will have the tools and support required to be successful.