USC announces plan to require face masks on main campus, upstate colleges discuss their plans

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SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – Masking up on college campuses. USC announced everyone on their main campus will be required to wear a mask, starting in just a couple days.

It’s a big day for Elijah Nelson. He’s graduating from high school and then he’s off to basic training before heading to college.

“I’ll be going to get my degree in physical education,” said High School Graduate, Elijah Nelson.

Just like most parents, Candice Sheree is proud of her son’s accomplishments.

“I’m excited, I know things are going to be totally different from when I was in college,” said Elijah’s Mom, Candice Sheree.

And Sheree isn’t wrong. Her son could soon be sporting a new style while he pursues his degree, a face mask.

“I’m not really bothered about wearing a face mask. If it’s required, then I’ll wear it,” Nelson told us.

Not all colleges in the upstate have made a final decision yet, unlike USC. They recently announced, face masks will be required on the main campus. But it’s something other schools are discussing.

“Providing masks is one of the things we’re considering and I think it’s safe to say, everybody at Furman who needs a mask, will have a mask,” said the Director of News and Media Strategy at Furman University, Clinton Colmenares.

You can already find staff at Converse College sporting their masks.

“Those of us on campus, still very few of us on campus, we are wearing masks when we’re out in communal spaces,” said Admissions Counselor at Converse College, Victoria Green.

It’s an idea college student, Aniya McQuiller believes is a step in the right direction.

“I think that’s very smart to do that because I think when everybody goes back to school, it’s going to be a lot of people walking together. It’s a lot of people on campus,” said College Student, Aniya McQuiller.

At Converse College, staff members that will be returning on June 15 will be expected to wear masks in shared spaces. Over at Wofford, they’ve made a committee to review and decide on the best practices come fall. Officials with USC Upstate told us they will likely be following their flagship’s suit but no final decision quite yet.

USC will start requiring the masks on June first. That rule applies to students, faculty, staff and visitors in classrooms, the library, the student center along with any place it’s hard to be six feet or more away from someone.

You can find the full statement from USC’s President below, that is also where you can find additional statements from Wofford College and Converse College.

University of South Carolina:

“Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

Next week we will begin the phased, transitional re-opening of campus with the return of select groups of students, faculty and staff to classrooms, labs and offices. I am eager to see the campus come back to life slowly but surely, and I have confidence in the recommendations of our Future Planning Group (FPG) that we can do so safely through critical risk mitigation measures.

I write today to announce that wearing face coverings is one of these measures. After discussion with our health care experts, and in consultation with faculty, staff and student leaders, effective June 1 I am approving a face covering policy for the Columbia campus. This policy provides:

  • All individuals on campus are expected to wear a face covering whenever physical distancing (six feet or more) is difficult or the risk of infection is high.
  • The university will provide a washable, reusable face covering for every student, faculty and staff member.
  • The university will require face coverings in the following areas: Student Health Services, Thomas Cooper Library, the Russell House and all classrooms.
  • Employees and students should carry a face covering of their choice on campus at all times so as to be prepared for other environments where a face covering is required (as designated by the university) or highly recommended.
  • University employees who cannot wear face coverings due to health conditions should contact their supervisors.
  • Students with health conditions that make wearing a face covering risky should register with the Student Disabilities Resource Center and accommodations will be made.

Put simply, we wear face coverings in order to protect others, and as Gamecocks we pledge to demonstrate concern for others. The research is clear: an infected person wearing a face covering may reduce the spread of COVID-19 to others. It could be easy to assume that you don’t need to wear a face covering if you feel fine, but we all know that asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 could unknowingly spread the virus to those around them.

Face coverings are just one approach we are taking to help make campus safer. We will implement social distancing protocols, install additional hand sanitizing stations, disinfect high-touch areas around campus and provide testing for all returning students, faculty and staff. Testing for returning employees and students will take place on June 1 and 2 at the Colonial Life Arena from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. The testing is free, and you must bring your health insurance card and your Carolina ID. More information about scheduling an appointment for a test will be announced prior to June 1. We will also continue to update you on additional risk mitigation practices and other measures that will inform how we study, work and live on campus together.

It is incumbent upon all of us to prioritize the safety of our community as we gradually return to campus over the next few months. The new normal is upon us, and I know we will work together for the greater good and enjoy being back together on this campus we all love.

Forever to thee,

Bob Caslen”

Converse College:

“A few offices at Converse are back on campus right now: Registrar, Admissions, Financial Planning and the President’s Office.

Our Summer class sessions for this month are all online, so we have a very limited number of residential students on campus. (most of these students are international students and those who need to stay on campus because they don’t have another place to go.)

Our staff have been working remotely since March 16. Our Phase 1 of staff returning to campus starts June 15. The priority is to return staff whose roles are essential to safety and preparing the campus for fall as well as those who cannot effectively perform their roles from home and are critical to ongoing operations. Telework should continue for most employees. We’ll gradually add more staff over the summer with the expectation that the full staff will be back on campus when students return in the fall. 

Staff who return to campus will be expected to wear face masks when they are in shared spaces – in public and when social distancing is not possible. We are also encouraging staggered days and hours for those staff back on campus, to limit the number of people in workspaces. As applicable, we are making changes in layout and design to create natural separation. Some examples include one-traffic patterns throughout workspaces and entry/exit doors, and plexiglass shields to separate office visitors from staff. We are cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces daily, as well as keeping common areas closed. We are encouraging self-monitoring of potential COVID-19 symptoms and daily temperature checks and asking anyone who exhibits signs of the virus to stay home

Our policies were developed by our HR team using guidance from the CDC, DHEC and to accommodate ADA and EEOC guidelines.”

Wofford College:

“The college has established a committee with representatives from across campus. They are reviewing best practices and recommendations from medical experts to safely resume operations on campus.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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