By Emmanuel Freeman
NASHVILLE, TN (TSU News Service) — Classes have officially resumed at Tennessee State University with enhanced COVID-19 safety measures to ensure the safety of students and the campus community.
For the first two weeks – August 17–31 – all classes will be online. Following that, students will have a choice of taking classes on ground or continuing online.
In March, amid the coronavirus pandemic, TSU sent students home, closed the residence halls, and asked employees to work remotely. On August
11, the university began its reopening process by welcoming nearly 2,300 first-time freshmen, who moved into their residence halls over several days for safety concerns. Upperclassmen or returning students who choose to stay on campus are arriving over the next few days.
TSU President Glenda Glover has assures students and their families that TSU has worked diligently to create a safe environment amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“Safety is a priority. We made adjustments based on where we are in the world today, and so far, it is working,” Dr. Glover said during the freshman move-in last week. “We couldn’t have everybody coming in at the same time, so we assigned each person a time to arrive.”
Tiara Thomas, a returning student who is staying on campus, said it is good to be back.
“It feels really good because I missed my TSU family for the past five to six months,” said Thomas, a junior political science major, who is the student representative on the TSU Board of Trustees.
“I have a great appreciation for my campus and my friends, because it is home,” she added. “It feels really good to see people back on campus and I am really excited to see how many freshmen we have this year.”
Incoming freshman Yuri Hopkins, of Miami, Florida, said she likes what she has seen so far.
“The health screenings and the orderly move-in process made me feel at home right away,” said Hopkins, a nursing major. “My uncle came here
and I have heard a lot of good things about their nursing program.”
To ease the new students’ transition, the university has made efforts to meet their technology needs, as well ensure they are well protected against COVID. All incoming students received welcome kits, including PPEs, or personal protective equipment like masks, facial shields, gloves, etc. Officials said this is all part of the overall plan that include hand sanitizing stations, temperature checks, and the reduction on the number of people allowed on the campus.
“We have limited the number of visitors to the campus, and most services have been moved to online,” said Dr. Curtis Johnson, chief of staff and associate vice president. “The intent is to reduce the possibility of COVID coming to the campus, and to better help manage the number of people on campus at any given time.”
For their technology needs, all first-time freshmen received laptops. “We wanted them to come in with the tools they need to be able to be successful, even if they have to work remotely,” said Frank Stevenson, vice president for Student Affairs.
Russell Waters, a returning junior who will attend classes remotely, said the university has “gone the extra mile” to make sure students have everything they need.
“It feels good to continue my education despite the obstacles I have faced in the past couple of months,” said Waters, a computer science major from Huntsville, Alabama. “TSU has done great things with classes being held virtually. They are doing their best to accommodate this new style of learning and I appreciate what they are doing for the students.”
The Office of Academic Affairs said excellence and student success remain the highest priority of the university.
“Building on our tradition we will continue to adjust as we go along,” said Dr. Michael Harris, interim provost and vice president of Academic Affairs. “We offer our students some of the most original, flexible and innovative learning options across our 82 programs. In addition, we have invested in and put in place a world-class support system to ensure each student’s success.”
To learn more about TSU’s campus operation plan for fall reopening, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/return.