USCB COVID-19 Resources For Faculty & Staff

USCB COVID-19 Resources For Faculty & Staff

The University of South Carolina Beaufort continues to work diligently to prepare for the return of faculty, staff, and students to its campuses. Internal Working Groups have developed strategies, policies, and procedures – in line with best practices established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC), and state and local experts – to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our Sand Shark family. Cooperation and compliance with safety measures are our best means to protect the health and well-being of our community.

Latest Updates

As of July 24, 2020

  • USCB will implement a phased-in return to campuses during July and August 2020. This incremental approach, inclusive of new risk-mitigation measures, is designed intentionally both to protect the well-being of returning faculty, staff, and students and to ensure the efficient conduct of university operations.
    • Phase 1:  July 6-17
    • Phase 2:  July 20-31
    • Phase 3:  August 3-14
    • Phase 4:  August 20 through the end of the academic year
  • USCB employees will be contacted by their supervisors to establish their dates and protocols for return.  Employees should not report to campuses unless/until they have been notified by their supervisors.
  • USCB is mindful of the need to protect vulnerable and high-risk individuals.  Please discuss with your supervisor if you believe you fall into one of the following categories:
    • Those with underlying health conditions
    • Those who are immunocompromised
    • Those who are 65 years of age or older
    • Those who have routine contact with vulnerable or high-risk individuals.

Per the chancellor’s communication dated May 22, 2020, USCB will welcome students back to its three campuses for face-to-face instruction during the 2020-2021 academic year.

May 22, 2020 Message:

Dear Sand Sharks:

After thoughtful consideration of recommendations from our internal working groups, I write to share the decision for USCB to welcome students, faculty, and staff for face-to-face operations during the 2020-21 academic year.  

Because your well-being remains our priority, university operations will be meaningfully enhanced to adhere to guidelines and advice from the CDC, SCDHEC, and local public health authorities.  Among top recommendations is a phased-in return to campuses, which we will begin in July (details to come).

USCB will adopt new social-distancing protocols (inclusive of new configurations for classrooms, dining service, libraries, indoor recreation facilities, and other shared spaces) as well as a revised academic calendar. Experts suggest that a resurgence (if any) of COVID-19 in the Lowcountry is likely to accompany colder weather in late November. Therefore, face-to-face classes will begin Wednesday, August 20 and conclude Wednesday, November 24.  The modified fall semester will run straight through (no Fall Break) in order to meet federal financial aid and academic accreditation requirements.  Further, for the fall semester, students will not return after Thanksgiving Break – instead finishing the semester remotely.

Fall 2020 Semester Calendar:

  • August 20:  Classes begin
  • September 7 (Labor Day):  No classes
  • October 15-16:  Fall Break is cancelled; Normal class schedules will be followed
  • November 3 (Election Day):  Remote classes will be held
  • November 24:  Face-to-face classes end
  • November 25-29:  Thanksgiving Break
  • November 30-December 2:  Remote classes will be held
  • December 3-4:  Remote reading days
  • December 7-14:  Remote final exam period

USCB’s collective “new normal” will require the individual cooperation of every single Sand Shark.  Maintaining social distance, wearing face masks in public spaces, washing/sanitizing hands regularly, limiting unnecessary travel/commuting, and screening routinely for signs of illness are best practices for all of us.  

We will provide details and instructions about new protocols, enhanced technologies, training sessions, and more in the coming weeks.

Fins Up,

Per the chancellor’s communication dated May 19, 2020, USCB was required by the UofSC Board of Trustees to hold virtual commencement exercises. Watch USCB’s 2020 Virtual Commencement.

May 19, 2020 Message:

Dear Sand Sharks:

The Board of Trustees for the USC System has decided that all system universities – USCB, USC Aiken, USC Upstate, USC Columbia, USC Sumter, USC Salkehatchie, USC Lancaster, and USC Union – must hold virtual 2020 commencement ceremonies.  Therefore, we are saddened to retract our previous announcement of a rescheduled commencement, which would have been held in-person on the Bluffton campus on Saturday, August 29, 2020. 

Concerns for the health and wellbeing of graduates, families, friends, and university personnel are the basis for this decision.  SC public health experts have concluded that there is just no safe way to mitigate against the spread of COVID-19 during such a large gathering this year.  While we share your disappointment, we must put safety first.

You have worked so hard for the accomplishment of completing your university education.  We are proud of you!

We have not yet had the opportunity to confirm plans for a virtual commencement.  But we will provide details in the coming days.  Below, please see the full announcement from USC System President Bob Caslen.

Fins Up,

May 19, 2020

Dear Gamecock alum,

I’m writing you to once again congratulate you on earning your degree from the University of South Carolina. Yours is a tremendous accomplishment that deserves to be celebrated. I am saddened to report, however, that we have decided that we will not be able to host in-person commencement ceremonies in August as we had tentatively announced. We will instead host a virtual commencement, with dates to follow soon.

I know this is disappointing news, but please know our decision was made after much deliberation and in consultation with public health experts and venue professionals. While we would have enjoyed nothing more than to welcome you and your families back for a ceremony in August, we don’t believe it will be safe for large in-person gatherings over the summer in the midst of the unprecedented global health crisis we are facing.

While our virtual commencement will be different than a traditional ceremony, our aim is to set a new standard of excellence for a virtual experience as we honor each of our graduates in the fashion you deserve. More details on the ceremony will be provided to you as they develop. We also look forward to having you back to campus to celebrate at a later date once it’s safe again to host large gatherings.

The coronavirus has changed many things about our campus, and indeed the nation and the world. One thing it can never change is the pride you have in earning your degree and joining the ranks of University of South Carolina alumni.

Forever to Thee,
Bob Caslen
Bob Caslen

Employees who are sick should stay home and not return to work until they are well.  SCDHEC recommends that employees who have been ill not return to the workplace until:  a) 10 days have passed since their symptoms began, b) they have no fever (body temperature of 100.4°F or less using an oral thermometer) for 3 days without the use of fever-reducing medicines, and c) their other symptoms have improved. 

Using the CDC’s Self-Checker, employees are required to self-monitor daily for the following symptoms:

  • Fever Greater Than 100.4°F
  • Cough
  • Shortness of Breath or Difficulty Breathing
  • Sore Throat
  • Muscle or Body Aches
  • Headache
  • Chills or Shaking
  • New Loss of Sense of Smell and/or Taste
  • Congestion or Runny Nose
  • Nausea or Vomiting (more common in children)
  • Diarrhea (more common in children).

SCDHEC does not recommend testing all students, faculty, and staff upon return to campuses:  The reasoning is that antibody tests continue to be unreliable, and viral tests are a snapshot in time but provide no indication or assurance for whether an individual will test positive or negative at any other point in time.  Thus, USCB will not engage in mass testing; however, the university has entered a partnership with Beaufort Memorial Hospital (BMH) in order to provide access to testing for any individual – faculty, staff, or student – who wants to be tested.  Testing is free of charge (but subject to change based on federal and state funding for testing supplies and personnel).

Students will be screened for symptoms on move-in day, and we will have onsite testing for those who indicate that they may be symptomatic or that they have been in contact with someone who is symptomatic and/or positive.

BMH will return to campuses to offer flu vaccination clinics in early fall and will provide ongoing telehealth services via an app and a kiosk on the Bluffton campus. These services are available to all USCB students and employees. Telehealth provides a virtual visit with a healthcare provider. Students who require further care will be referred to a local BMH healthcare provider or advised to seek hospitalization if the health concern is potentially serious. We have access to Registered Nurse staff and a medical director to support campus health operations and collaborate with SCDHEC on COVID-19 cases.

The USCB Public Health Response Team will coordinate with SCDHEC with regard to contact tracing and has completed contact tracing training through the Johns Hopkins University.  Further, several practices to support contact tracing will be implemented on campus, including verification of student class attendance, seating charts, using student ID swipes, and using portable swipes at student events.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created challenges for each of us.  Individuals who are experiencing feelings of isolation, anxiety, and/or stress are encouraged to use the Employee Assistance Program.

Further, the federal government’s Family First Coronavirus Response Act expands employee protections and relief.

Each employee will be provided a personal health kit, which will include two reusable face masks, pocket hand sanitizer, and a germ key. In line with USCB’s Communicable Disease Outbreak-Mitigation Measures, face masks/cloth face coverings are required to be worn by all employees and all students on all campuses when in the presence of others and in all settings where six-foot social distancing is difficult to maintain. Face masks/cloth face coverings are not required while working alone in enclosed spaces.

Appropriate use of face masks/cloth face coverings is critical to minimizing risks to those around you. You can spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick. Face masks/cloth face coverings mask must cover the nose and mouth to be effective. Home-made or commercially manufactured face masks/cloth face coverings help contain a wearer’s respiratory emissions. It is recommended face coverings are made primarily of cotton and double-layered.

Reusable face masks/cloth face coverings must be properly laundered after each day’s use. After one day’s use, they must be laundered before another day’s use. Having a week’s supply of face masks/cloth face coverings can help reduce the need for daily laundering.

Each division/school of the university will be provided a kit, including hand sanitizer, disposable masks and gloves, disinfecting wipes, and disinfecting spray for use in maintaining healthful conditions for individual and shared spaces.

Various spaces on campuses, e.g., classrooms, dining and recreational facilities, libraries, and the bookstore, are reconfigured to support six-foot social distancing.  Further, plexiglass, face shields, and social-distancing signage and decals will be utilized to promote safe practices.