Nursing students among first to return to campus

File Photo: Haley Salvador / The Daily Gamecock

As part of USC's three-phased return plan, nursing students are some of the first students to return to campus. 

President Bob Caslen announced in May a pilot program that focuses on "pilot mitigation strategies over the summer before full-scale implementation in August." 

Other groups include those in the College of Pharmacy, Russell House and the Arnold School of Public Health. Testing for returning students will also be available.  

Nursing students will resume face-to-face instruction on June 22 for summer classes and clinicals in local hospitals.

Kate Chappell, interim assistant dean for undergraduate studies, said the nursing department has a lot of protocols in place for students' return.

"Within the hospitals, they'll have face coverings. They're essentially being treated like employees in terms of being screened in each day," Chappell said. "While in classes, we have a physical distancing thing set up in our classrooms."

Undergraduate and graduate nursing students are being asked to sign a waiver to be able to complete their clinicals in hospitals. 

"The clinical component of upper division is the most important part of trying to get your nursing degree," Isabel Ortiz, a third-year nursing student, said. "I think they're really just trying to get us the best experience possible for the nursing program by keeping that as a component of the first semester of clinicals."

Ortiz said she's not concerned with returning to campus because she "[doesn't] know what it's going to look like yet." 

"It's not necessarily the return to campus that makes me nervous. It's more going into the hospitals now," Ortiz said. "'Cause I'm not sure what the patient load looks like, or if it's going to be COVID patients or non-COVID patients. That part makes me a little nervous." 

Ortiz will complete her clinicals in Prisma Health's Richland hospital, and the other students are split up into groups between other hospitals in the area.

Quenton Washington, a third-year nursing student, will complete his clinicals at Lexington Medical Center. He said his concerns have been all over the place.

"I have general concerns for the health and safety of our community," Washington said. "This concern may seem trivial now, but [I have] just a concern of having a normal college experience. Some people won't get to have that. We all won't really get to have that." 

Face coverings and hand sanitizers are being purchased through the Procurement/Purchasing Department and will be dispersed to campus departments and schools. It's also providing containers of wipes and other cleaning materials for classroom settings. 

In addition, the university will provide "large orders to enable all faculty, staff and students for the entire system to start with one washable and reusable face covering ... to be received by the end of May or early June, with additional orders in tranches thereafter."

After Phase II guidelines are met, Phase III will continue until August 3. During this phase, the remaining workforce of all departments will return, and final preparations for students and the academic year will be completed.


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