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Athens State University prepares classroom for fall return amid pandemic

The university is expecting more students to return to the classroom this fall, but it has measures in place for safety.

Posted: Jun 24, 2020 8:26 PM
Updated: Jun 24, 2020 10:10 PM

Athens State University is dealing with its first set of coronavirus cases. Three employees have tested positive, but were exposed off campus.

This all comes as the university is making several changes when more people are expected to return to campus this fall. 

Right now, some students are back in the classroom for summer courses. However, there have been changes.

"Those include plexiglass between rows of desks," Spokesperson Chris Latham said. "We have the desks arranged, and the seating arranged where people can maintain the social distancing requirements." There are also sanitizer stations in all the buildings. All of these adjustments cost the university more than $65,000 so far. Latham said they are still holding the majority of summer classes virtually, but expect more in person classes this fall. 

"Faculty members are being involved in making that determination whether courses can be held virtually or not," Latham said. "Of course, some programs require in person instruction for the students to really meet the learning outcomes for the programs."

The university is expecting more than 3,000 students to enroll this fall. With a smaller university, it makes it easier to social distance.

"We have a 15 to 1 student faculty ratio," Latham said. "So our class size is already very small, and we think that will also help so our students can spread out and not be congregated, they can maintain those social distancing requirements." Before the pandemic hit, a lot of students were already taking advantage of online courses.

"91 percent of students have taken at least one online class, so we feel like we are a leading in online education as is," Latham said. "So, that helps the situation for us." Students are also encouraged to wear face coverings, but not required. By the end of the year, Athens State is projected to spend more than $200,000 on all these safety procedures.

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