Tusculum University has enacted measures designed to protect students, faculty and staff from the coronavirus as the institution returns to face-to-face instruction and residential living for the 2020-21 academic year, a press release from the university said.
Some students have already started moving into residence halls and others will arrive in the next three weeks as Tusculum prepares to begin the fall semester Aug. 17.
“The arrival of students brings joy to the campus and reminds us of our opportunity to help develop career-ready professionals in a caring Christian environment,” said Dr. Scott Hummel, president of Tusculum University. “When students return, they will see firsthand the extensive work by our dedicated faculty and staff and the cabinet to emphasize safety even more strongly on our campuses.”
One step Tusculum is taking is to require face coverings in multiple areas at Tusculum’s Greeneville, Knoxville and Morristown locations, including classrooms. To provide additional protection for faculty and staff members, some classes intended to be face-to-face will be divided into two groups, with students attending in person half of the time and participating via the Zoom platform or in an online environment the other half, the release said.
Students will also select their own seats and use the same one every time they attend class in person for the remainder of that course. That will assist the university with the contact tracing process should a student contract the coronavirus. The university has purchased equipment that will rapidly sanitize classrooms after each class, providing an extra level of safety.
Faculty office hours for student interaction and advising will take place virtually, and tutoring will be available digitally and in person – following applicable social distancing guidelines.
“An important discovery we made is the desire for many students to return to a face-to-face classroom setting because of the interactive benefits,” said Dr. Tricia Hunsader, provost and vice president of academic affairs. “We are accommodating that preference but combining it with sensible protections that reinforce everyone’s safety. We have a sound plan in place to begin the academic year, but we will continue to monitor the situation and make adjustments as needed.”
To assist all faculty, staff and students with monitoring their health, Tusculum will use the Healthy Together app which will enable them to self-screen by answering a series of questions daily that would alert them if they have symptoms of the coronavirus. The university has developed processes for handling any potential and confirmed cases of the coronavirus.
To decrease the potential for spread of the coronavirus in residence halls and in social activities, the university has reduced density in the residence halls and spread students across more of the campus. Intramural sports will be limited to activities having no contact and allow for social distancing measures.
In addition, the university has worked with Chartwells, its food service provider, to revise procedures in the cafeteria and Chick-fil-A restaurant.
Many employees will continue to work remotely. Supervisors will approve employees to work on one of the university’s campuses based on the institution’s needs, employee health and social distancing guidelines. Whenever possible, Tusculum will provide flexibility for employees who might need to work remotely if they or an immediate family member is at high risk for the coronavirus, the release said. If employees are experiencing any symptom associated with coronavirus, Tusculum expects them to stay home and seek medical attention, if warranted.
Tusculum’s plans for the upcoming academic year have been developed by a task force, chaired by Doug Jones, vice president of athletics and university initiatives. The task force analyzed many factors and received helpful advice from local, state and national experts, according to the release.
For more information about the university, visit www.tusculum.edu.