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Local colleges, universities are confident in preparation for safe semester

Director of Facilities Garry Stephens and Chris Gay made these sneeze guards by hand, at Augusta Tech. (Source: WRDW)
Director of Facilities Garry Stephens and Chris Gay made these sneeze guards by hand, at Augusta Tech. (Source: WRDW)(WRDW)
Published: Jun. 3, 2020 at 10:22 PM EDT
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Wednesday, June 3, 2020

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- College campuses are eerily quiet, as summer courses remain online. But when students return in the fall, there's no doubt, things will look different.

First off, you'll notice a lot more signs, encouraging masks and social distancing. The University of South Carolina at Aiken will welcome back students with masks and limited class sizes.

"Another thing we've done is to install protective screens to help prevent the spread of any disease similar to what you see in grocery stores. There's a barrier here," said Brian Enter, senior university facilities executive at USC Aiken.

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Everything from the number of people in the elevator, to the direction you can walk in a hallway, is changing.

Down the street at Aiken Technical College, students will find plexiglass installed on campus, and most courses are remaining online anyway.

"In looking at all of our courses for Fall 20, over 90 percent of them will either be online or hybrid and so that's a change for us."

Across the river at Augusta Tech, teachers like Facilities Director Garry Stephens and Chris Gay, are making sneeze guards by hand. But in-person sessions for the fall are still up in the air.

At Augusta University:

"We are ready to see them back and engage with them and all the student activities," Dr. Gretchen Caughman, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost at Augusta University, said.

The plan is to open back up. The backup plan is to strictly social distance. And the back-up back-up plan is to move back online.

"Everyone has just risen to this challenge magnificently, it's something nobody expected but everybody pitched in and we can do things that nobody could've expected otherwise," Caughman said.

Cafeterias, lounge areas, libraries will all look different. And in the classroom, expect to sit a few seats away from your classmate.

As for sports, Augusta University says that's still up in the air.

News 12 reached out to Paine College, and are waiting for a response.

Copyright 2020 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.

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