Colleges, universities prepare for fall semester as COVID-19 pandemic continues
DELMARVA – If you live near a college or university, you’ve probably noticed students back in town as the start of the fall semester closes in. As students prepare to step back on campus, COVID-19 restrictions are in place at many higher education institutions. “It’s not rocket science. But if people just do the simple smart things, then we can all have a great experience,” said Salisbury University President Dr. Charles Wight.
At Salisbury University. some classes will be virtual. Plus, masks are to be worn inside school buildings, and everyone needs to get their COVID-19 shot. Right now, Dr. Wight says about 94 percent of faculty and staff are vaccinated. “I think everybody’s confident that we have a very safe atmosphere. It’s just keeping everybody safe, doing the smart things, and following the science and the guidance,” said Dr. Wight.
Dr. Wight says after the first two weeks in the semester, the campus health team will reevaluate case and positivity rates. Then, they’ll make a decision on masking from there. “Yeah, there are a lot of uncertainties. But as long as people pay attention and do the right thing, we’re going to have a great time,” said Dr. Wight.
Across state lines at Delaware State University, it’s a similar story, but with an added chapter. Director of News Services Carlos Holmes says they’re working on managing an increase of students and added properties after their acquisition of Wesley College.
On top of that, Holmes says about 75% of their classes were virtual last semester. But, this year it’s dropping to about 25%. “We have let our students know that they have a responsibility, and they play a role in making this a successful school year – a safe school year. So, we want them to mask, and socially distance when possible,” said Holmes
Holmes says they’re also requiring vaccines for everyone on campus. Masks are required inside buildings for vaccinated individuals, and must be worn both inside and outside by those who haven’t gotten their shot. Plus, vaccinated people will have to test for COVID-19 once a week, and twice a week for those unvaccinated. “It’s very important that we keep a handle on this. So, the best way to do that is to require vaccinations, and to test regularly,” said Holmes.
At both Salisbury University and Delaware State University, anyone who has a religious or medical reason to not get vaccinated can apply for an exemption. “There are some people that have issues with it, like we do nationwide. But, we have what we’re requiring here at Delaware State University. We have a campus population that we have to be concerned about,” said Holmes.
At Salisbury University, move in day is Thursday, August 26th. Classes start on Monday, the 30th. Delaware State University students started moving in Monday, the 23rd. They’ll also start classes on Monday, August 30th. For more information on Salisbury University’s COVID-19 protocols, click here. For Delaware State University’s COVID-19 protocols, click here.