By Lucas Johnson
NASHVILLE, TN (TSU News Service) — Tennessee State University is planning to start classes in the fall, but under additional safety protocols to protect the public health and safety of its students and employees.
In addition to a Pandemic Task Force that currently meets every day to address COVID-19 related issues, TSU President Glenda Glover is appointing a Fall Course Delivery Task Force to help develop the best strategy for classes this fall.
“We are evaluating and developing operational safety measures, best practices, and academic related logistical options to prepare for the return of students in the fall with the focus on the health and safety of the campus community,” President Glover said recently in a correspondence with TSU faculty and staff.
“These measures will include the ongoing cleaning of campus facilities, the use of larger classrooms and hybrid in-person and online course presentations, and the implementation of appropriate social distancing standards.”
While the plan is to open as planned for the fall, TSU officials said that will change if the threat of COVID-19 resurfaces.
Meanwhile, like most higher education institutions across the country, TSU’s students completed the semester online and the majority of the university’s employees continue to work remotely.
TSU has also postponed or cancelled all in-person events until further notice. Several events are occurring virtually as arranged by the respective divisions of the university.
Whether students are on campus or not, TSU has taken steps to meet their needs. For those students who needed digital devices to complete their online coursework for the semester and summer, the university provided them with more than 40 laptops and tablets.
Last month, TSU students received housing and meal refunds, and the university is currently using millions of federal dollars to help with student expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the pandemic. The university has distributed the funds as emergency financial aid grants to students.
Graduate students will receive a one-time grant of $500. Undergraduate students who are not PELL Grant eligible will receive $600, and undergraduate students who are PELL eligible will receive $800.
TSU students say they appreciate the university’s effort to accommodate them, especially their instructors, but they acknowledge the distance learning has been challenging because of the absence of things like face to face interaction with their instructors.
“We were able to go to their office, now it’s mainly emails,” says Rekha Berry, a senior from Mobile, Alabama, majoring in history and political science. “I definitely miss the face to face with instructors.”
Nevertheless, they are finding ways to adjust. For Treveon Hayes of Memphis, Tennessee, who has two to four classes a day, he practices better time management.
“After class, I give myself about five minutes to use the restroom, grab a snack, then get right back to class,” adds Hayes, an elementary education major. “I have to time manage myself. The work has to be done. No excuses.”
Jakori Hollinger, a music education major from Montgomery, Alabama, says the lack of in-person instruction has caused him to do more reading and research in order to understand certain concepts.
“Whereas, if I was sitting in front of them, they could just show me how to do it,” says Hollinger, “I could just pick it up and it would be no issue.”
However, despite the circumstances, he lauded TSU’s faculty and staff for “working with students to make this transition as easy as possible.”
For more on campus operations affected by the coronavirus, and student information, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/covid19.