Ready, set, USC Aiken returns new virus safety measures this fall

Published: Aug. 20, 2020 at 6:40 PM EDT
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AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - USC Aiken students came back for classes today with several safety precautions in place, including a new device that checks temperature and detects if you are wearing a mask or not.

But that's not the only thing the university has in place to keep everyone safe.

“We have a really strong mitigation plan. We began in March, as soon as we had to shut down, we got into action and started developing a mitigation plan for our students to be able to return safely this fall,” said Thayer McGahee, dean of the School of Nursing and campus COVID-19 coordinator.

The university's 'Ready. Set. Return.' plan features daily cleanings, social distancing signage reminders, and a mask requirement.

“Even in our classrooms if social distancing is possible, we’re still requiring face masks to be worn by students in all classrooms and inside buildings,” McGahee said.

Students say they're happy to see others following the rules

“It’s a relief and a blessing for us to even be back here on campus. I did not like sitting at home for all those months- or years it feels like -but I’m excited to be back at school, honestly,” student Katlyn Johnson said.

And if there's a positive case on campus, USC Aiken says they're ready for that too. They have a team of 15 trained contact tracers tasked with slowing the spread of the virus.

“We know that DHEC is overwhelmed with the amount of contract tracing they’re having to do, and sometimes the person’s out of isolation before they’re able to be contacted. So, we are contacting people as soon as we know they’re positive,” McGahee said.

The team will identify people exposed to the virus, go through a series of questions, and determine if they need to quarantine.

“We feel like we have a good handle on how to help our students navigate through this time well,” Dr. Daren Timmons, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, said.

The university says there are consequences for any faculty, staff or students who do not follow the precautions. But as far as the first day, staff say, there haven’t been any problems.

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