Sabrina Hampton, Kailee Kokes / The Daily Gamecock, Morgan Wagner // The Daily Gamecock

Coronavirus affects class, housing facilities, sports on campus

On Wednesday, USC announced spring break will be extended until March 22 and classes will begin online instruction on March 23 until at least April 6. 

Following this announcement, classes, housing, facilities and sports face changes to mitigate risk of COVID-19.

Classes

The university will begin online instruction for all courses on March 23, but there is no standardized method for how professors will deliver lesson plans and coursework.

Shannon Bowen, a journalism and mass communications professor, said there is limited information coming from the university about the online shift.

“There hasn’t been a lot of communication, and I think it’s just being left up to the faculty member, which is good in that it gives you a lot of freedom and flexibility, but it’s also is sort of panicking some folks because they really don’t know what the expectations are or what they need to do,” Bowen said.

Currently, students can expect to see their classes take place on a number of platforms, including Blackboard, Zoom, YouTube and even Facebook.

Professors have the option of delivering their classes either synchronously, where every student is on the platform at the same time, or asynchronously, where students complete assignments on their own time throughout the day or week.

Many professors, including Bowen, intend to make their classes asynchronous as a way to accommodate students who do not have reliable Wi-Fi. Professors are expected to work with students who cannot access Wi-Fi one-on-one.

According to Loren Knapp, associate dean for the College of Arts and Sciences, labs will be conducted through web-based demonstrations, 3-D animations and point-and-click activities online.

With the shift, many professors are also releasing revised syllabuses where assignments and grading scales may change.

Housing

Students will no longer be allowed to live on campus in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Unless a student has demonstrated “extenuating circumstances,” students who live in residence halls must pick up “essential belongings” by March 17 and cannot return until at least April 5. Students must fill out an Extenuating Circumstance Housing Form by March 16 at 5 p.m.

Once the form is filled out, students must receive approval from housing to remain in the residence hall past March 17, and if the form is not approved, students are expected to move out by noon that day.

“This decision was made after a large number of students indicated they wanted to return to campus housing, despite the university strongly advising against it,” university spokesman Jeff Stensland said in an email statement on March 13.

Dining

Only select dining locations will be open Monday and Tuesday, as posted on the university's website. According to director of Russell House Kim McMahon, decisions will be made for the rest of the week after evaluating student dining trends from those days. This comes in an effort to reduce waste and encourage social distancing.

“The Russell House is the community center of the college life, and the recommendations are to limit the community gathering, so what and how we do our everyday work is changing since we won’t be doing ballroom events, we’re not doing Greene Street activity, we’re not using our spaces to conduct student organization gatherings and meetings,” McMahon said. “So our priority shifts to the Maslow [hierarchy] of needs of students, which is food.”

McMahon said Russell House plans to open at 8 a.m. on Monday, but the closing and daily hours may change moving forward as a result of Gov. Henry McMaster's order to close public schools. The schedule will continue to be updated on the university's website.

Campus dining will also continue to accept meal plans without the 30-minute gap between swipes.

"I am committed to working with my partners in University Housing and Carolina Food Co to serve students while following all orders and requirements presented to us," McMahon said in an email. "We will be creative and do our best to navigate this crisis so that students are cared for and that they can use the resources that we offer in a safe and responsible way."

Events and services

All campus and university-sponsored events have been canceled through April 5. This includes organization meetings, fraternity and sorority formals, Russell House ballroom events, admitted students day, the ring ceremony and all campus tours.

“We’re still here serving students,” McMahon said. “If the primary reason that you may have come to Russell was to gather and meet with friends, that will change for the next few weeks, but how we serve students will just shift a bit differently in the coming days.”

Students will still have access to the Russell House post office. For students who are not returning to campus, they can have their mail forwarded or held for them. 

The bookstore’s back-of-house function will also continue, meaning customers can order products online. However, the bookstore’s front-of-house retail operation may be limited moving forward.


Sports

The SEC suspended all organized team activities until at least April 15. This includes practices, meetings and competitions.

“By suspending these activities during this time and cutting back on in-person campus instruction, we’re doing our best to reduce the chances that the coronavirus, COVID-19, will spread in our community,” South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner said in a press conference on March 13.

The NCAA canceled all spring sports championships including the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.

In the press conference, Tanner also discussed the women’s basketball team opportunity to win the national championship.

“We were on quite a run,” Tanner said. “If I’m not mistaken, we were 32-1, we were ranked No. 1 in both polls and we won the [SEC] regular-season title and tournament championship, so in my mind, we’re No. 1.” 

Highlighting the importance of health and safety, Tanner said an unnamed South Carolina athlete is in self-quarantine after returning from a level-three zone. Another unnamed athlete has been tested for COVID-19.

—Tyler Fedor and Cam Adams contributed to the reporting of this article.

Correction March 16 at 7:34 p.m.: A previous version of the article misstated   that students are required to move out. Students must pick up ”essential belongings“ by March 17.


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