FLORENCE, S.C. (WBTW) — As an unusual fall semester comes to a close at universities across the Carolinas, school administrators are planning for the upcoming spring semester.
Francis Marion University, Coker University and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke are all slated to begin their spring semester classes Jan. 19.
For Florence County’s FMU, the biggest change for students will be a COVID test requirement to begin the semester.
“We’ll require our residential students to be tested before they move into the dorms,” FMU president Dr. Fred Carter said. “To actually show proof they’ve taken a COVID test prior to coming back.”
The students will need proof of a negative test from no more than one week before check in. If they don’t get one before, they can get one through the university, but that will delay check in. FMU will begin offering a saliva COVID test next semester in addition to its other testing options
Like many other universities, FMU has made scheduling changes for the spring, including starting a week later than normal.
“That’ll keep us off campus one additional week during the height of flu season,” Dr. Carter said. “So we’ll start Jan. 19. We’ll eliminate our spring break because frankly I don’t want our students leaving the dormitories spending a week someplace and moving back in the dormitories.”
Dr. Carter said the university will be using many of the same procedures in the fall since the semester went well.
“I think only two occasions have we had more than 10 active cases on campus at any time,” Dr. Carter said. “So we were able to get through this semester fairly well. We didn’t have a single masking incident in this campus during the entire course of fall semester. I’m very, very proud of that.”
Meanwhile in Pembroke, UNCP is working to make any necessary changes while students are away.
“If the desks need to be distanced further, if we need more signage to go in there,” Chief Communications & Marketing Officer for UNCP Jodi Phelps said. “We’re finalizing our entry testing protocol. And that will require some form of COVID test for most of our students. We’re going to offer a lot more surveillance testing opportunities throughout the semester.”
Phelps said that UNCP is also cutting spring break.
“We’ve inserted some mid-semester wellness days,” Phelps said. “One of the things we heard from students and faculty is over the fall having an entire semester without a break was tough.”
FMU and Coker are also offering more sporadic time off in place of spring break.
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