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MAY 27, 2020 — As the State of Georgia continues to take measured steps toward a return to normal economic and social activity, Georgia Southwestern has been approved to initiate our plan to bring employees back to campus and begin preparations for a Fall Semester that will include students living and attending classes on campus.

We have much work to do as new students are anxious to secure their class schedule, make housing arrangements and take their freshman year by storm. While the loss of the scheduled Storm Days in May has put us behind, we can make up for lost time and help these excited students find their place at GSW.

Return to Work

  • The University System of Georgia (USG) approved Georgia Southwestern's 'Employee Return to Campus Plan' with 'Day One' beginning on Tuesday, May 26. The plan to reintroduce employees to campus is in line with guidance from Governor Brian Kemp, the Governor's Task Force, the Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH), and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
  • All staff and those on 12-month contracts, except for those who fall into the high risk populations, are expected to return to work over the course of the next week. Employees will return to campus in a staggered, phased-in approach based on the needs of the particular work unit and at the direction of their supervisor.
  • Employees who fall under the high risk definition should communicate with Human Resources regarding official documentation and to arrange for accommodations to continue your current telework assignment.
  • If you have questions about your return to work schedule or if you have not already been contacted with directions, contact your immediate supervisor. Each unit drafted separate plans which have been approved by the USG.
  • Gena Wilson will communicate leave options for those who are unable to work due to COVID-19.

Safety Measures

  • As we return to campus, please familiarize yourself with and follow the GDPH and CDC basic health and safety guidelines such as regular hand washing and social distancing. If you are sick, you must stay home to protect yourself and your fellow employees.
  • While it is not required, it is recommended that you wear a cloth face covering while on campus.
  • All office-based staff will be isolated in their individual offices and, unless necessary, will not enter a co-worker's office space.
  • Meetings and conferences will initially be held virtually wherever possible.
  • The following preventative measures have been implemented around campus to ensure the safety and well-being of employees and students:
    • Plexi-glass has been added in the areas of Financial Aid, Registrar, Student Accounts and Business Office.
    • Hand sanitizer has been distributed to offices, and wall dispensers of hand sanitizer gel have been mounted in buildings campus-wide.
    • Signage promoting proper respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene will be placed in high traffic areas on campus.
    • Custodial staff will disinfect bathrooms, kitchen counters and doorknobs daily.

Looking Ahead

I know we are still facing uncertainty on several fronts as we understand more about the spread of COVID-19, comprehend the financial impact the shutdown will have on state appropriations, and watch the state and country cautiously re-open, but I am confident we can figure out how to protect all GSW employees without disrupting the educational path and trajectory of students who desperately want to be on campus.

STORM Days will begin on Tuesday, June 2 and the new format will have students and their guests on campus three days a week (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday) throughout the summer. Move-In Day, Orientation Week, Thunder Camp, and Freshman Convocation are still on schedule, however, with some modifications.

The GSW plan for the resumption of Fall classes calls for significant steps to make the campus less susceptible to a potential coronavirus outbreak. We will "redesign" classrooms, residential living and campus services. We will offer hybrid classes where necessary and halt many large gatherings. Certainly, it may be a little quieter, but our responsibility to the students and to the communities our graduates serve has never been more clear. The work we do is important to the recovery and the future of Southwest Georgia, so we must meet the challenge of bringing the GSW campus back to life - and I know you will!

- Dr. Neal Weaver, GSW President

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