College of Coastal Georgia News

'Mask on, Mariners': College to begin fall semester next week
Posted 08/13/2020 09:58AM

By Lauren McDonald Aug 12,2020

College of Coastal Georgia desk assistant Kendall Kurian, from left, resident assistant Robert Walters, and resident assistant Haleigh Cejka talk with freshman Claire Terwilliger and her mother Susan Terwilliger on Tuesday while Claire moves into her room at Lakeside Village. (Photo by Bobby Haven/The Brunswick News)

College of Coastal Georgia students will return to campus Monday to begin fall semester.

CCGA, like other institutions in the University System of Georgia, has put together a detailed reopening plan centered on providing in-person instruction for students, despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Students began moving into the two residence halls on campus this week.

Claire Terwilliger, a freshman from Marietta, brought her mom Susan along Tuesday to get her suite in Lakeside Village ready for the semester.

"Of course, I'm wary of the situation," said her mom, while Claire chatted with residence hall staff. "But I feel good that this is a small school ... I guess we'll just have to see how it goes."

Some 330,000 college students across Georgia will resume classes this fall.

After moving completely to online learning last spring due to the pandemic, the university system is prioritizing in-person instruction, said USG Chancellor Steve Wrigley on Tuesday during a board of regents meeting.

"I want to be clear, our institutions have as their greatest priority the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff," Wrigley said. "We also understand there is value and importance to students of on-campus education. Being on campus is simply a richer and more well-rounded experience, and we are working hard to achieve both it and safety in an on-campus setting."

A new campus experience

The college will offer courses in several forms.

"Some of our courses will be entirely in person just like we would traditionally offer," said Jason Umfress, vice president for student affairs and enrollment management at CCGA. "Others will be offered in a format we call 'hybrid,' meaning the course will meet a day or so a week and the rest of the instruction will take place online. We will also offer courses that are entirely online."

More than 60 percent of the scheduled classes will have a face-to-face component.

In-person classes will look different. For starters, everyone will be required to wear a face covering.

"We have been promoting our new 'Mask on, Mariners' cultural shift to get our students, faculty and staff accustomed to this new expectation," Umfress said. "Additionally, classes have been rearranged to have student desks at least six feet apart from each other."

Face coverings will be required for all faculty, staff, students and visitors when in facilities or in an area where they cannot ensure social distancing. This is a university system policy.

"For example, we do expect everyone to wear a covering when they are in class, walking through the halls, etc.," Umfress said. "We wouldn't expect them to wear one if they are studying alone in the middle of the quad or alone in their residence hall rooms."

The college will give students three reusable masks during the first week of class. Additional masks will be available for purchase in the campus bookstore.

Classroom settings will be reconfigured and section sizes will be reduced to allow for social distancing. Some classrooms have been modified with plexiglass shields for instructors to work behind.

After Thanksgiving, all courses and final exams will be delivered online.

"These academic calendar modifications are intended to avoid potential campus outbreaks upon faculty, staff and student return after Thanksgiving holiday travel," according to the college's website. "During the week following Thanksgiving, faculty will be available to students by holding online review sessions, continuing to keep office hours and helping students prepare for final exams."

Common-touch surfaces on campus will be frequently wiped down or sanitized, including light switches, door handles and desks.

"We will still encourage students to practice good hand hygiene and are providing sanitization stations throughout the campus," Umfress said. "The campus is literally being plastered with signage reminding students of these things as well."


The college plans to implement a cultural shift this semester that promotes social distancing and other safety measures that can limit the spread of COVID-19.

"We are calling on all members of our community to do their part to keep themselves and our community healthy and safe," Umfress said. "We are calling it #CoastalCares."

Students will be expected to practice social distancing, staying at least six feet from others and avoiding group gatherings.

Plexiglass partitions have been installed in a number of high-traffic offices, and the college has turned to technology to streamline many of the processes to keep students from waiting in lines or to turn processes "touchless," Umfress said.

"For example, we are rolling out a new student ID card system where the card technology is on their smartphone device," he said. "Students will be able to use their device to scan into buildings, in the dining hall, borrow a library book, etc. We are very excited about this, and the technology couldn't have come at a better time."

The college plans to open both on-campus dining locations.

"Thanks to our strong partnership with our food service vendor, Aladdin, the dining hall and our on-campus Dockside Deli will be in full operation in the fall. Mariners Galley dining hall will continue to be an all-you-care-to-eat facility," Umfress said. "Students will be able to go through the dining hall serving stations like normal with the only difference being they will no longer be able to serve themselves at certain stations."

Staff will be available at some stations to serve students or provide pre-packaged items available for grab-and-go.

The dining room will be open with limited capacity, and tables are spaced out.

The college developed a move-in plan at both residence halls that allows students to bring items to campus early rather than having everyone move in at once.

"We are fortunate to have beautiful, newer facilities, so the large majority of our students will have private bedrooms in two- or four-person suites," Umfress said.

Students will not be expected to wear face coverings in their private spaces, but they'll be responsible for cleaning their in-suite shared spaces. Public spaces in residence halls will receive the same treatment that the rest of the campus will in terms of sanitation, wipe downs, hand sanitizing stations and signage.

Students moving in this week have been assigned check-in appointments and are limited in the number of guests they're allowed to bring to help.

"It is a huge logistical lift to get that many folks settled in, but I'm proud of the approach the team is taking to ensure everyone is safe," Umfress said.

If a student gets sick, they will be asked to make an appointment with the Student Health Center and given the option of going to the local health department or hospital.

A sick student will be isolated and quarantined in a designated vacant apartment in Coastal Place Apartments and will not be allowed to return until well and for at least 10 days after the symptoms first appeared.

Despite the many changes to on-campus life, Claire Terillger is excited to begin her educational journey at CCGA.

"I'm looking forward to playing volleyball, and I hope that everything goes smoothly so we can play as many games as possible," she said.

Wrigley emphasized how important the university system's ongoing educational mission is for the state of Georgia.

"While protecting health and safety, which are vitally important, we must also do all we can to protect our students' progress toward their degrees," he said.

Republished with the permission of The Brunswick News. Originally published in The Brunswick News.
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