USA president announces reopening plans on school website

Mobile County
University of South Alabama_8241

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — University of South Alabama (USA) President Dr. Tony G. Waldrop announces reopening plans for the campus.

The following is from USA President, Tony G. Waldrop, Ph.D.:

Dear USA Students, Faculty and Staff,

This week, 75 of our Jaguar student-athletes arrived on campus for strength and conditioning training in preparation for football season. Meanwhile, our third-year medical students returned to clinical activities at USA Health facilities. For these football players and physicians in training, the return includes the familiar, but also new ways of operating due to the coronavirus pandemic.

That will be the case for all of us.

The University Committee for Reopening Campus continues to review and approve plans for the return of students, faculty and staff. I expect these plans to be published on the University website later this month, along with a list of answers to frequently asked questions.

There are some details that have been finalized, specifically related to academics, that we now can share to help students and faculty prepare. The academic plan was approved after revisions based on constructive feedback from faculty, who will receive a copy of the plan today.

One of the most significant changes will be to the academic calendar. Classes will begin a day early, on Aug. 17, and two fall break days will be eliminated. Classes will end just before Thanksgiving, and students will not return to campus until January. Final exams will take place in-person before Thanksgiving or virtually in early December.

By compressing the fall calendar, we reduce the amount of time people are on campus as flu season begins to peak. We also lessen the chance of virus spread caused by sending students home for breaks and then bringing them back.

Most courses – including those listed as web-enhanced and web-blended – will be taught in a hybrid format, with some portion of instruction offered in-person while adhering to social distancing guidelines. In addition, faculty who are teaching in-person courses are encouraged to develop the course so that students who need to complete it online can do so.

Faculty also will be prepared to move classes completely online if the University deems it necessary to protect the health of our students, faculty and staff.

As a University with an academic healthcare system, we are fortunate to have the expert guidance of USA Health epidemiologists and infectious disease specialists in drafting plans for reopening campus. The health and safety of our USA community is paramount. That is why the University will ask for everyone’s cooperation in social distancing and adherence to a masking requirement.

All in-person classes will require that students are spaced out at least 6 feet apart. That may mean the in-person portion of a class might not be held at the same time for all students.

In addition, everyone will need to wear a face mask indoors, except when an individual is alone in a private office or lab, or when students are in their residence hall rooms with no visitors present. The University will provide each student and employee with two South-branded masks.

USA Health already requires employees and patients to wear masks in its hospitals and clinics, and virus spread in those facilities is remarkably low. While there is still a frustrating amount we do not know about the novel coronavirus, this much is clear: Properly worn masks can help limit its spread, and we must take reasonable and practical steps to keep each other safe.

Masking and social distancing are ways you can keep others, and yourself, from getting sick. This is supported by our own experts at USA Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

We will have an educational campaign and signage available to promote both social distancing and masking. More information will be available in the full reports from the University Committee for Reopening Campus later this month, and you will receive an email with a link to our reopening information website.

Finally, I’d like to thank both our students and employees for their patience and support as we prepare to safely return. I look forward to seeing you on campus.

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