CCU launches preliminary plan for the fall reopening of campus
The Coastal Comeback Plan includes information about strategies for academic instruction, adjustments made to on-campus housing arrangements, what measures have been implemented to encourage proper hygiene and social distancing, and more.
"The plan is designed to ensure that we provide the healthiest and safest environment,” said CCU President David A. DeCenzo, Ph.D. “We haven’t been on campus since mid-March, so knowing that there is a proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, that we are going to come back to a new normal, there is excitement that we will have a thriving campus again.”
Campus will reopen slowly using a phased process that follows state, CDC, and South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) guidelines and protocols. The University is currently operating under Governor Henry McMaster’s executive order that requires critical staff only on campus, which is designated Phase 0 in the plan.
“We have been working with S.C. DHEC and S.C. Emergency Management Division on a regular basis to make sure we are working with information that is up to date, since what we know about COVID changes weekly, and sometimes daily,” said CCU Emergency Management Director Carissa Medeiros. “The process that we’ve taken in creating the standards allows us to remain flexible as we move forward.”
Face coverings will be required inside buildings and outside in areas where social distancing isn’t feasible. The University will establish traffic flow patterns, put up signage and hand-sanitizing stations, and reconfigure classrooms and labs to encourage social distancing and proper hygiene practices.
Additionally, faculty are finalizing plans for a range of face-to-face classes, streaming lectures, and distance-learning options. The numbers of students in each classroom will be reduced to allow for a safer learning environment, and technological solutions are being put into place so students who need to access their courses remotely can continue their education.
“We are making sure we are doing the things we need to be doing to protect students’ health and to limit the contact they may have with one another in the classroom,” said Associate Provost Holley Tankersley. “Safety is our top priority in planning our academic comeback. All of the academic areas have come together to make sure we are addressing every single area and issue within academics so that we can reopen safely.”
Other adjustments include reducing the number of beds available in University Housing in order to increase the number of single-occupancy rooms available. Shuttles and routes will also be modified to allow for social distancing and sanitization measures.
In early May, President DeCenzo charged the Emergency Operations organization with planning for the reopening, which led to the establishment of the COVID-19 Task Force. The task force developed standards for operating in a COVID-19 environment. The task force was comprised of more than 50 subject matter experts from across campus and divided into five committees, and they defined what the public health prevention and mitigation standards would be for returning to campus in a safe environment.
These standards serve as the foundation for the Coastal Comeback Plan, which is a living document that will continue to expand. In addition, the Coastal Comeback Planning Team is working to advance the planning process and establish how the standards will be implemented on campus. That team is comprised of more than 100 faculty, staff, and students from all areas of campus, divided into 10 committees that each focus on specific functions of campus operations.
“The biggest priority we have at all levels of planning is the safety and health and well-being of the University community. That has not changed,” said Medeiros. “It has been at the forefront of everything we have done and every decision that is made. That will continue to be the case.”
The Coastal Comeback Plan will continue to be refined and updated during the summer months by the Coastal Comeback Planning Team, and updates will be posted regularly at coastal.edu/coastalcomeback.