UGA Admin Building Mug.jpg (copy)

The University of Georgia Administration Building located on North Campus. (Photo/Jason Born)

The University System of Georgia is working on multiple possibilities for reopening in the fall. A 31-page USG memo details four possible plans for the fall: in-person classes with limited social distancing, in-person classes with social distancing, fully online learning and online learning for part of the semester.

It’s likely that some social distancing provisions will happen in the fall. The memo, which The Red & Black obtained through an open records request, said universities should fully develop a plan for in-person classes with social distancing expectations, which is what the 26 USG institutions are currently planning for.

“Any return to campus in fall 2020 will not be ‘normal’ even if significant social distancing expectations are not present,” the memo said.

Under the in-person social distancing plan, class sizes must adhere to the social distancing measures required in the fall. The memo said options to maintain social distancing include moving to larger classrooms, finding other classes for students in larger classes and flipping classrooms — when students learn material outside of class while participating in activities and discussions during class time.

Faculty should have flexible office hours under this plan to allow for one-on-one interactions with students, according to the memo. Schools won’t be provided with any extra funds to make these changes. USG, like other state entities affected by revenue loss from the coronavirus, is required to cut its budget by 14% for fiscal year 2021.

Due to the varying nature of dining halls across USG institutions, the only specific guidance for dining halls the memo gave is that they must allow for social distancing and discourage students gathering in groups.

Students will be allowed to live in residence halls “whenever possible,” whether class is in-person or online. Visitors in shared areas should be limited. The memo said cleaning supplies, such as soap, hand sanitizer, tissues and trash baskets, should be provided in common areas, but students are responsible for cleaning and disinfecting their individual rooms.

The move-out procedures from the end of the spring semester will be used to move students into residence halls with social distancing. Under these plans, students signed up for appointment slots and could only bring two people to help move out. In the spring, each appointment slot was two hours long.

If there is a temporary shelter-in-place order or emergency declaration, classes may have to move online, the memo said. USG will make decisions about moving online with help from Gov. Brian Kemp’s office, the governor’s COVID-19 task force and the Georgia Department of Public Health.

Universities will develop alternatives to programs with lab or clinical requirements to accommodate students’ progression in the program, the memo said.

Each school also has to submit plans for COVID-19 testing, screening, contact tracing and isolation. The memo said students who test positive for COVID-19 should leave campus immediately and go home until they meet DPH guidance for stopping isolation.

Students with a COVID-19 diagnosis must receive accommodations from faculty to continue enrollment. They can also medically withdraw from classes.

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