Office of the President
Dear university community,
With the start of the fall semester fast approaching, I want to share with you the latest updates about preparations for the fall.
I begin by thanking the thousands of faculty, staff and students who have worked tirelessly and without pause over the summer to make adjustments in fall semester planning and preparations in order to address the shifting challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. The fluid nature of the pandemic has forced us to be nimble, causing us at times to change direction on short notice. Once again, the spirit and determination of the Georgia State community have shown through. Thank you!
Over the summer many of you asked questions and shared concerns about the return to campus for the fall semester. This feedback has helped to inform much of our work in preparing for the semester, and many of your questions are now addressed on the Georgia State Ahead website. We are continuing to update that website based on your latest questions and we are adding new information as it becomes available.
The coming academic year will look like no other in our 107-year history. All aspects of university operations have been impacted by the pandemic. There will be fewer people on our campuses and many university activities will feel and be different from in past years. Our over-arching goal in preparing for the fall continues to be providing for the highest quality educational experience possible and maintaining our world-class research while protecting the health and safety of our university community.
Important information for everyone as the fall semester approaches:
Academic Plan for Fall
Academic course offerings this fall will be based a robust mix of three distinct teaching modalities: Blended Learning (for example, a mix of online and in-person), Online Learning and Face-to-Face Learning. The modality for each course was selected based on the most appropriate pedagogical model for the subject matter, the need to make accommodations for faculty at increased risk of COVID-19 and expressed student preferences for more online and blended learning course options.
Since last spring thousands of Georgia State faculty members have participated in our four-week Mastering Online Teaching courses that provide specific instruction in online learning and blended-learning design. These courses, developed by our Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, have significantly aided faculty in the preparation of courses and will result in higher-quality instruction for students this fall.
Health and Safety
The health and safety of our Georgia State community is our highest priority. With the help and active participation of our faculty, staff, and students, we are taking these simple, yet highly effective, steps to protect one another.
- Anyone who is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, flu or similar illnesses should not come to campus for work or classes. (See below for guidance on what to do if you are symptomatic for COVID-19).
- Social distancing, six feet apart, is required at all times.
- The university is providing reusable Georgia State masks to faculty, staff and students, and wearing a face covering is required in all university buildings when not in a private office setting.
- There will be no large university gatherings for the foreseeable future.
- Teleworking for faculty and staff is encouraged where feasible and appropriate.
Testing and Contact Tracing
Georgia State’s Student Health Services, Byrdine F. Lewis School of Nursing and Health Professions and the School of Public Health have developed an enhanced program of COVID-19 reporting, testing and tracing to ensure the health and safety of our community:
- Instructions for individuals exhibiting COVID-19 Symptoms
- Faculty and Staff:
- Do not come to work and notify your department chair or supervisor.
- Contact your health provider immediately to determine your most appropriate course of action.
- Do not come to class and notify your professors.
- Schedule an appointment with the Student Health Clinic or your personal health provider immediately to determine your most appropriate course of action.
- Reporting of Positive Cases and Case Investigation
For the last several months, we have encouraged members of our university community who tested positive for COVID-19 or exhibited symptoms to voluntarily report their status to the university. We used that information where possible to notify anyone who may have been exposed to the virus while working at the university.
It is imperative that members of our university community who test positive for COVID-19 continue to report their status to the university so we can notify those from the Georgia State community who may have been in close contact (within six feet of the person who tested positive for 15 or more minutes) with the person who tested positive and advise them of the next steps to take. The identity of the person who tested positive is always kept confidential by the university and not disclosed to the close contacts.
On Aug. 17, we are introducing an enhanced reporting system that will allow us to more completely and expeditiously collect relevant information and inform those who may have been exposed to someone who tested positive. Details of the reporting system will be on the Georgia State Ahead website.
Responsibility for investigating positive cases and identifying those at risk of exposure lies with the Georgia Department of Public Health and Georgia’s county health departments. Georgia State has partnered with our state and county health departments, assisting with that activity, by investigating cases reported to the university through our reporting system. Teams of Georgia State faculty, staff and students are being trained in case investigation and contact tracing. They will be contacting those members of the university community who are reported as positive cases and following up with those individuals who are determined to have been at risk for exposure to COVID-19 at Georgia State.
Georgia State will be using two forms of COVID-19 testing this fall. We are staffing multiple sites across our campuses where COVID-19 testing will be available to individuals for whom a test is indicated.
- PCR Testing: This test, requiring swabbing of the nasopharyngeal cavity, is the most accurate. We have capacity on-campus to process a limited number of these tests in less than 24 hours, and we are prioritizing its use as follows:
- Symptomatic students seen at any of the Student Health Clinics.
- Weekly testing of random subsets of students living in university housing.
- Students as required for participation in university-sponsored activities, for example, athletics, clinical experiences and ROTC.
- Saliva Testing: Georgia State has purchased a supply of saliva-based test kits that will be available on our campuses to anyone who is identified through case investigation as having been at risk for exposure to COVID-19 at Georgia State. This FDA-approved test is expected to return results within in 72 hours.
In preparation for the resumption of class this fall, our facilities team has been hard at work preparing our campuses for the fall semester. Classrooms have been modified to provide adequate spacing between students, and seats have been marked to indicate where students should sit to enable social distancing while in a classroom setting. Similar modifications have been made to university libraries, student centers, dining facilities and other public venues.
Signage of the basic preventive measures everyone is required to abide by is being posted across our campuses. Facilities on our campuses have undergone deep cleaning over the summer. Teams have been trained using Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and are prepared to respond to situations where additional deep cleaning may be necessary.
I realize our community has many questions and concerns and look forward to addressing them at a virtual town hall forum scheduled for 1 p.m. this Thursday. You are encouraged to send questions in advance to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging and stressful for all of us, and I am deeply appreciative of the resilience and can-do spirit all of you have shown in responding to the numerous changes to university operations brought on by the pandemic. By working together, we will deliver on our education and research missions while ensuring the health and safety of our university community. Thank you for doing your part and for all you do to make Georgia State one of the most innovative and important universities in America.