Students will be returning to Salisbury University in August ahead of the fall semester, but it’s anticipated that the new semester will look quite different than it has in the past. Following the guidance of the University System of Maryland and other health guidance, Salisbury University is putting changes into place to address safety as students return to campus.
The semester begins on Aug. 31 and the week leading up will see students return to campus gradually. From Aug. 24 through Aug. 27, new students will be welcomed on campus at specific, pre-planned times to make social distancing possible. The same will occur across August 28- 30 for returning students. Certain on-campus student housing options will have reduced capacities as some rooms will house smaller numbers of students than is typical.
Once classes begin following move in, instruction will move forward in a variety of formats. These formats include traditional in-person instruction (with campus safety measures in place), hybrid instruction taking place in-person and online, distance learning in which an instructor will teach live and students will attend class at the scheduled time via technology, and fully online which is flexible in instruction with assigned due dates. Class formats have been determined by the faculty teaching each section.
The variety of course offerings could change and adapt to the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. Should state guidance or health and safety needs arise, Salisbury University plans to adapt accordingly. Public Relations Director and University Spokesperson, Jason Rhodes, indicates that SU is working closely with local health agencies and monitoring CDC, health department, and state guidelines in regards to safety.
Safety is a topic that is paramount in re-openings across the state and Salisbury University is no exception to that rule. The university has laid out a number of safety procedures and requirements to attend to. Implementations from personal hygiene requirements to campus accessibility are being addressed with much information already available at salisbury.edu.
All faculty, staff, and students are being asked to adhere to safety guidelines. Wearing face coverings in buildings around campus and outdoors when six-foot social distancing is not possible is required, and personal hygiene practices—such as twenty-second hand washing—are highly encouraged. Refusal to follow the mask mandate could result in removal from the campus. A self-monitoring app is in development and being rolled out early August for students, staff, and faculty to self-assess for Covid-19 symptoms before coming onto campus.
Naturally, anyone assessed as having symptoms are being asked to not come to campus and/or classes and events. For those who do present with symptoms, the university will be requiring follow-up testing for the coronavirus. Students will have accessibility through Student Health Services and faculty and staff will be directed to outside providers. A note from a physician or from the local health department indicating a negative test result will be required for any member of the campus community to return.
Additional to each individual on campus playing their part, cleaning efforts will be increased and training will ensue. Frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs will be targeted for increased sanitizing. Buildings will be cleaned daily to reduce tracking of germs across the campus. All faculty, staff, and students can expect to complete mandatory trainings on maintaining safety during the upcoming semester.
To further impact the health and safety of all persons on campus, the university is recommending minimal visitors to campus on a temporary basis. During this time period, all students, faculty, and staff will be required to wear their SU identification cards visibly. If visitors are coming onto campus, they must first go through an in-person health screening to rule out symptoms of COVID-19 and will be given a visitor badge which must be made visible while on campus. Also, most buildings will be inaccessible without an SU ID card for access.
While campus safety is of great importance to the university, SU also looks to support the greater surrounding community in navigating the changes brought on by the pandemic. Health resources, such as signage, are available to the public via the university’s website. PAC 14 has been filming weekly Focus On Health segments hosted by Dr. Mary DiBartolo—of SU’s School of Nursing—during which COVID-19 topics are discussed. In addition to disseminating information, SU faculty have been making and providing needed PPE and other equipment, and creating virtual resources for local students of all ages. Further, the Nabb Research Center is collecting documentation of the COVID-19 pandemic from all who want to donate physical and digital materials relevant to this period of time.
Salisbury University has taken an active role in the local community in many ways, but particularly in providing cultural, and other educational and entertaining events. Despite the limitations created by current conditions, the university plans to continue to provide these offerings. “Although our cultural events that we’ve had in the past aren’t going to look the same this year…there will still be cultural events,” Rhodes reports. Productions, lectures, and any other events held will be provided virtually.
Going forward, changes may occur regularly and this information could adjust related to new developments brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Salisbury University’s website continues to update a page devoted entirely to information relevant to the coronavirus. This page is accessible from the university’s website homepage.