Truett McConnell University Spring Semester 2021 COVID-19 Q and A
As of 1/10/2021
The onset of the COVID-19 back in early 2020 altered college life for everyone. As we finalize preparations for the beginning of the spring semester that starts on January 13th, the TMU faculty and staff are extremely excited to welcome students back to our campus after an extended break. For Spring 2021, we will continue the COVID-19 policies, procedures and practices that we utilized in Fall 2020. TMU’s leadership, across all areas of the institution, continues to work tirelessly to provide as safe a campus learning and living environment as possible.
The following decisions have been made with guidance from the CDC, the State of Georgia and Governor Kemp’s Office. This information is fluid and is subject to change at the discretion of TMU’s leadership. This summary, in the form of a set of common questions and answers, will outline our policies and procedures as they stand today.
Spring Semester Classes, Schedules and Activities:
When do Spring 2021 on campus classes begin?
On campus, in-person classes with appropriate modifications that aim to enhance the safety of our students and faculty, will begin on Wednesday, January 13th.
Will the Spring semester be in person or online?
As in Fall 2020, all residential classes will be on campus, in-person this spring. Students who may need to attend virtually for any part of the semester – due to illness, quarantine, or other approved conditions – will be able to “attend” their residential classes through distance learning, primarily via the TMU BrightSpace D2L Online Portal. All faculty and courses are already prepared if such cases do arise.
Will classes be at the same times, in the same locations as previously scheduled?
Yes. However, In order to accommodate the needed cleaning/sanitizing and movement between classes, we have directed our faculty to make sure to begin and end classes on time. We also ask that students leave classes on time in order to allow faculty and staff to sanitize each classroom space between sessions.
We did not have any breaks in Fall 2020. Will there be any breaks in Spring 2021?
Yes. For Spring Break, on campus classes will not meet on Thursday (2/18/2021) and Friday (2/19/2021), thereby creating a 4-day weekend break. For Easter Break, on campus classes will not meet on Good Friday (4/2/2021), or the following week (4/5/2021 – 4/9/2021). In addition, only “Thursday Only, once a week classes,” will meet on Thursday, 4/1/2021. Therefore, most on campus students will have an Easter Break from Thursday (4/1/2021) through Sunday (4/11/2021).
Will there still be events and activities other than class (Chapel, Athletics, Mission Trips, etc.)?
Yes, absolutely. We are currently discussing each of these areas in order to provide a full slate of activities and experiences for our students, while also maintaining appropriate safety precautions. We will continue to have Chapel on Tuesday mornings in the SWC, maintaining safe occupancy requirements set by Governor Kemp’s Office and the State of Georgia. We will not be traveling for international mission trips in the spring semester. However, we may participate in domestic mission trips in the spring. We will continue our Fall 2020 COVID-19 procedures in order to conduct recitals and performances, intramural sports and recreation, and other such extracurricular activities at TMU in a safe manner.
Regarding music practice and performances, we continue to pay close attention to the guidelines being implemented by state and private institutions in our region for the safe conduct of musical practices and musical group performances. Our music faculty will continue to utilize a set of “best practices” which will keep students taking music lessons and participating in musical ensembles safe as they rehearse. Domestic travel for music group performances may occur during the spring semester.
Guidelines for athletics have been developed by the NAIA and our AAC conference. For Spring 2021, we will continue to operate under those guidelines we followed in the fall. Our athletic policies will likely vary considerably depending on the particular sport involved and can be found on the www.tmbears.com website.
What are the health protocols for the Spring semester? What safety procedures does TMU plan to implement for Spring 2021?
TMU’s leadership has developed a set of guidelines with respect to social distancing, masks, informational signage, random temperature checks, quarantine due COVID-19 symptoms, attending residential classes while in quarantine and sanitization standards. The basic guidelines are as follows:
Social Distancing: We are encouraging students, faculty and staff to social distance, whenever possible. We do not have the square-footage capacity to social distance in most classrooms or dorms. However, we have setup our main Dining Hall seating for social distancing in pods, by separating tables in fixed locations. In our large venues, we will follow the occupancy standards according to the State of Georgia guidelines. We request that everyone act responsibly.
Masks: Masks are not required in many areas of campus. However, students, faculty, and staff are strongly encouraged to wear masks in any setting in which they are with other people and social distancing is not possible. Masks are required for those attending events in our larger, private venues, including the SWC (Chapel services, sporting events, etc.), Odell Hall (Sanctuary), Sewell-Plunket Hall (recitals, other performances, etc.), and the Volleyball & Wrestling Arena (sporting and other events, etc.). Masks are required for students in all classrooms, where social distancing is not possible. Those students who have asthma, or other respiratory-type conditions, are excused from this mask requirement policy. In addition, due to some of our high-risk faculty members, certain seating areas in the classrooms may require students to wear masks. That information will be included in each course syllabus. Students will need to comply with the requirement according to a particular faculty member’s syllabus. We recommend that students carry a mask on their person at all times, because it may be needed from time to time. Disposable masks will be available for purchase in The Outpost Campus Store for $1.00. All are advised to bring his or her own mask to campus, to suit their preferences in style, type, and comfort.
Signage: The university has signage across campus to help encourage safe practices and remind students, employees and visitors of relevant guidance.
Temperature checks: Random temperature checks may take place throughout the dorms and other locations on campus.
Quarantine/COVID-19 Testing: If any member of the campus community (students, faculty or staff) experiences symptoms that warrant a COVID-19 test, or the member chooses to be tested for COVID-19, then he or she will be required to quarantine from home. On-campus students will be provided a temporary (less than 24-hours) safe place to quarantine on campus, if needed, until family can take the student home, if student chooses not to drive themselves. As would be the case in most settings, there will be nuances as to how this process will look for different populations on campus. Employees, per CDC guidelines, will quarantine for 10-days from a positive test or from the onset of symptoms. In order for an employee to return to campus life, he or she will need to be symptom-free for at least 24 hours at the end of the 10-day quarantine. The employee will need to communicate that information with his or her immediate supervisor and the TMU Human Resources Office in order to be cleared to return to work.
For students to return to campus, in addition to the 10-day quarantine period with no symptoms for at least the final 24 hours of that period, they must receive documented medical clearance from a licensed medical physician. Unfortunately, TMU does not have available licensed medical physicians on staff to assist students with this process. We advise medical clearance from a student’s personal physician. Students will not be allowed to return to campus without medical clearance, from a licensed physician, indicating that they are free of any COVID-19 symptoms. At this time, a mandatory negative COVID-19 test will not be required.
We require that all students, including commuters, faculty, and staff self-report immediately upon exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms by emailing Covid19Questions@truett.edu . We will contact all students who quarantine, or are tested for COVID-19, regarding gaining approval from TMU Administration to return to campus.
Attending Residential Classes While Quarantining from Home: If a student is required to quarantine from home, for any period during the Spring 2021 semester, he or she will “attend” his or her residential courses through distance learning, primarily via the TMU BrightSpace D2L Online Portal. All residential classes have been added to the online portal and all faculty members are prepared to instruct students in this manner if such a need arises.
Cleaning/Sanitizing: TMU’s custodial department cleans and sanitizes buildings and gathering locations thoroughly each day. In addition, every classroom and gathering space will be equipped with disinfecting spray and wipes, where employees will be disinfecting workspaces before each use. Sanitization of all classrooms will occur between all class meeting times. TMU’s custodial staff performs focused sanitization using an electrostatic sprayer, with hospital-grade disinfectant, in dorm rooms where students live, who left campus for COVID-19 related symptoms and/or testing. The cleaning of a specific student’s personal effects will be the responsibility of that student.
When are students allowed to move in to their dorms? What is required for students to receive their dorm room keys?
Students may move in on Monday, January 11th from 9am-4pm and on Tuesday, January 12th from 9am-4pm. Students are allowed to have up to two people help them move in, if needed. Any outstanding balance must be paid in full, or a payment plan arranged for the full balance, before a student will receive his/her dorm room keys. Statements may be viewed through Self-Service under finances/statement. Payments can be made online through the truett.edu website or by calling the Business Office (706-865-2134 x3500 or x3001).Beginning again on Monday (Jan. 11th), students may create an online payment plan at MyCollegePaymentPlan.com (That system is temporarily unavailable over the weekend as student records are being updated).
Will on-campus dorm/apartment capacity be lowered in the Spring?
Capacity will not be lowered for the spring. According to current guidelines, we can safely accommodate two students to a room in traditional residence halls and six or seven to an apartment. We will maximize spaces between beds.
Am I allowed to go home on the weekends?
Yes. However, students will be asked to stay at home if they develop COVID-19 symptoms while visiting family during weekends. The quarantine and returning to campus life protocols mentioned earlier will apply.
What if I get sick? What will I have to do?
Students in residence halls experiencing COVID-19 symptoms (such as loss/change of taste or smell, fever of 100.4 or above, or other Covid-related symptoms) should report to their RA immediately, day or night, and send an email to Covid19Questions@truett.edu . Residential students with COVID-19 symptoms will be isolated in a temporary location until a family member can come to campus to get them, unless they choose to drive home themselves immediately. Focused sanitization will occur in areas where residents resided who developed COVID-19 symptoms. We require that all students, including commuters, self-report immediately upon exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms by emailing Covid19Questions@truett.edu . We will contact all students who quarantine, or are tested for COVID-19, regarding gaining approval from TMU Administration to return to campus.
Does MMI have its own plan for serving students safely?
MMI, our food service provider, operates nationally and has immense experience safely serving guests on college campuses throughout the U.S. MMI has developed corporate procedures for maintaining the safest possible means of feeding campus residents and is already implementing these strategies. They will follow CDC and the State of Georgia guidelines along with other best-practices in this service as in Fall 2020.
What precautions have been taken regarding student safety in dining venues?
Social distancing controls are in place for lines, seating, and for food service employees. Disposable gloves provided must be used at salad bar for service. All other food stations are served by employees. All condiments and eating utensils are served by employees. All patrons are to follow in and out flows of service lines. All tables must remain in place and cannot be moved, in order to provide proper social distancing. All TMU dining staff will wear masks during service hours. Hand sanitizer is provided throughout all eating areas. Beverages are still self-service, but we require that patrons use a new cup each time. There will be no complimentary water service or filling of water bottles at the Georgia Public House. Beverage service at GPH will have a no refill policy on beverages at this time. All dining surfaces will be sanitized between guests.
How will TMU educate its students on the protocols and the importance of compliance?
TMU faculty and staff are prepared to operate under the new guidelines, to inform students of the precautions in place, and to encourage them to remember that they are part of a campus community with a diverse population, regardless of their own personal perception of vulnerability. Reminders of such will also be included in course syllabi and posted on signage across campus. Students, faculty and staff are to behave responsibly in order to protect their health and that of the entire TMU campus community.Return to News Archive