In an email to students on Thursday afternoon, Kennesaw State University outlined plans to return to campus for in-person instruction amid the coronavirus pandemic.

KSU is set to begin fall semester classes Aug. 17. When in-person instruction resumes, the university will require students and faculty to wear face coverings in classrooms, and anybody on campus must wear a mask indoors if social distancing is not possible. The university has dispersed hand sanitizing stations and signage encouraging social distancing across campus.

Additionally, janitorial staff will clean and sanitize high-traffic areas multiple times per day, and KSU will work with Wellstar Health System to enact COVID-19 testing and contact tracing.

In the email to students, Vice President for Student Affairs Eric Arneson said the university’s health protocols are designed to balance learning opportunities with safety.

“These protocols require that we make changes at KSU as we plan for the fall semester,” Arneson said in the email to students. “We ask that you help us to ensure that you and your fellow students are safe by familiarizing yourself with those changes and by committing to follow them at all times while on campus.”

KSU students in Kennesaw and Marietta will be able to get tested for COVID-19 at student health services clinics. According to the university website, students should get tested “if they are experiencing symptoms or believe they have been in close contact with someone who has a confirmed case.” Testing is by appointment only. Faculty and staff will be able to get tested for COVID-19 on campus beginning Aug. 10.

“Wellstar will work with our University and local health officials as we monitor and immediately respond to any positive tests that arise on campus,” Arneson said in the email to students. “Specific procedures will be followed to isolate positive cases so that the spread of the virus can be mitigated.”

Timothy Hedeen, a professor of conflict management at KSU, said COVID-19 testing may not be effective if people do not comply with contact tracing.

“I have concerns that testing isn’t timely enough,” Hedeen said. “Even if you find out instantly that someone tests positive, then where they’ve been for the last two days or five days is critically important. And, thus far, citizens in the United States don’t share that information … so testing, for me, is no solution to anything.”

Hedeen, who will teach all of his classes virtually this fall, noted that some of the long-term health effects of the virus are still unknown. He said he can only speak for himself and not other faculty members or the university.

“The density of classroom spaces, and even the spaces between classrooms, make it such that it’s just unwise,” Hedeen said of in-person classes. “It’s too dangerous.”

Hedeen said he wants to get back to the classroom for in-person instruction with students, and he will do so when it is safe for everyone involved.

While some classes will meet face-to-face, others will be conducted online and some will feature a hybrid of remote and in-person learning.

“(Students) should continue to monitor your registration status so you can remain up to date on the modalities that will be used for your courses in the fall and contact your academic advisor with any questions,” Arneson said in his email.

When face-to-face instruction is possible, classrooms will have cleaning supplies available so students can wipe down desks or other shared equipment.

In his email to students, Arneson said the university has developed several resources to address how the Kennesaw and Marietta campuses will reopen during the pandemic. He provided students with the university’s new COVID-19 website, coronavirus.kennesaw.edu, a source for news and resources pertaining to the pandemic.

Arneson also noted that both the Kennesaw and Marietta campuses will feature event tents for shade and more outdoor seating areas. KSU will continue to operate the Big Owl Bus shuttle services, and bus drivers will disinfect buses regularly throughout the day.

“We are eager to welcome you to a new academic year at KSU and are preparing for your safe return to classes and to campus,” Arneson said to students. “Please know we are committed to your success, and your health and well-being remain our top priorities.”

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