Anderson University intends to open its campus for in-person classes under a revised plan that calls for an early start to the fall semester that would end prior to Thanksgiving break, President Evans Whitaker announced today.
Under the revised plan, in-person classes begin on Wednesday, August 19. Classes would meet on Labor Day and fall break would be eliminated. The last day of in-person instruction would be Tuesday, November 24, with final exams taking place from Monday, November 30 through Friday, December 4. Winter commencement is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 5, formally ending the fall semester.
President Whitaker said unless COVID-19 circumstances render the revised opening plan infeasible, AU will proceed on the assumption that it will open with recommended health and safety measures in place.
“As we prepare to reopen the Anderson University campus, there is nothing more important than the well-being of our students, faculty and staff,” President Whitaker said. “We will implement health and safety measures and respond to any federal and state guidance.”
President Whitaker noted that South Carolina, and Anderson County in particular, have had low exposure to COVID-19, a fact that figured into the University’s plans. Anderson University students, faculty and staff have reported no COVID-19 infections.
Public health protocols will be part of what AU officials say is a “return to normal with new realities” on the campus. Those protocols include regular temperature checks of students and employees; facilitation of testing; physical distancing measures; rigorous disinfection procedures; use of protective masks; classroom spacing adjustments; and re-structuring large group gatherings and contact activities such as athletics, intramurals, concerts, public lectures and campus worship services. Face-to-face campus interaction, by necessity, won’t be as close physically as normal until a vaccine is developed, however.
“We are taking the COVID-19 threat seriously,” President Whitaker said. “We are deeply saddened that people have died from this dangerous, menacing virus. We want to protect our students and the community, while at the same time do all we can to provide uninterrupted education to meet the urgent demands for degreed professionals and technicians, put South Carolinians back to work, support the economic recovery and phase in a return to normal as quickly and as safely as possible.”
“Further, we have heard from our students who want to return to the Anderson,” he said. “They miss the rich learning and living experiences on campus and the close-knit family atmosphere—for our students, Anderson is their ‘home away from home.’”
The decision comes as the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education (SCCHE) and the South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities association (SCICU) have both expressed support for the intention of the state’s public and private higher education institutions cautiously returning to campus operations in the fall.
With the state’s “home-or-work” order rescinded, the University has begun a phased-in process of asking groups of staff to return to work between now and mid-July. Before returning to work, all faculty and staff will undergo required training specific to operating safely during a pandemic. The training will be extended to student workers and volunteers before returning to classes this fall.
While Anderson University is South Carolina’s largest private university, its on-campus enrollment is still relatively small, a fact that Anderson officials say not only enhances its commitment to personalized education but also should factor positively into the health and safety of its campus community this fall.
Summer classes at Anderson, primarily provided online for several years, is proceeding as planned with the first session that began May 11 and a second summer session beginning June 29.