On May 28, the University System of Georgia (USG) approved Tech’s plan to slowly return to campus. With ramp-ups in campus activity beginning in June, the plan aims to prepare the institution for the resumption of in-person learning for the Fall 2020 semester. President Angél Cabrera, as he has done since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, also reiterated the importance of protecting the health and safety of our community in a video regarding the plan to reopen.
The first phase of the plan directs researchers and staff who must be on campus to work to return with instructions to minimize the number of people on campus at once through shift coordination. While essential research has continued throughout the pandemic, this will allow non-essential sponsored research to slowly return before the Fall semester begins. An email from the coronavirus task-force cited the significant national, regional and local impact on security and the economy as the reason for research ramp-ups.
In mid-June, student-services staff will be allowed to work on campus in preparation for the return to in-person teaching. Staff who are not involved in research or student-services are encouraged to continue work remotely or, if necessary, in staggered shifts. Employees not ready to return to campus are encouraged to consult their supervisors to identify an alternate plan conducive to off-site working. The same email from the task force pointed out the need for these services by students who were unable to leave campus over the summer.
In addition to the phased plan for the return to campus in August, Tech has also established regulations to prevent the spread of the virus in common spaces. The Campus Guidelines section of the Tech website outlines a number of preventative practices in line with USG guidance and executive orders from the office of Governor Brian Kemp. Some of these practices include social distancing, intense disinfection efforts, closure of common areas where social distancing is not possible and suggestions for face covering equipment, among many other things.As anxiety regarding the future of our education builds within the Tech community, we appear to be trending towards a re-opening of the campus in August. Given the many restrictions and guidelines for the institution’s phased reopening plan, it is safe to assume that a return to campus will look very different from a typical semester, with precautions in place to safeguard the health of our community. Official information regarding Tech’s response to the pandemic can be found at health.gatech.edu/coronavirus.