COVID-19 rates lead Gordon State to delay spring semester start

Gordon State College in Barnesville will push back the start of the new semester from Wednesday, Jan. 13,  to Monday, Jan 25, due to COVID-19 concerns.
Gordon State College in Barnesville will push back the start of the new semester from Wednesday, Jan. 13, to Monday, Jan 25, due to COVID-19 concerns.

The first day of classes was supposed to be Wednesday, but is now pushed back to Jan. 25

Gordon State College in Barnesville will push back the start of the new semester from Wednesday, Jan. 13, to Monday, Jan. 25, due to COVID-19 concerns. The state college enrolled 3,231 students in fall of 2020, according to University System of Georgia data.

“After careful and thoughtful consideration of our campus community, we view this decision as the right move to take for the continued health and well-being of Highlander Nation,” said Kirk A. Nooks, president of GSC, in a statement. “In light of the current national, regional and local public health situation, we remain committed to a spring semester that can start and end successfully.”

Lamar County, where the campus is located, has about 19,000 residents. The county has recorded 915 COVID-19 cases to date. A rise in infections and staff quarantines already led the K-12 public school system in Lamar to close down its school buildings this past week and shift to online learning through Jan. 19.

To make up for the delay start, Gordon State College will hold classes during the previously scheduled spring break, March 15-19, as well as adding a maximum of two asynchronous class meetings.

Here is the official statement:

As we prepare for the start of classes, we have been continuing to monitor the spread of the COVID-19 virus at the local, regional and national level. While the campus is fully prepared to receive students, one of our goals for the Spring semester is to have a successful start and finish. In order to achieve that goal, one strategy that we have been reviewing this week is to delay the start of the semester from Wednesday, January 13 to Monday, January 25.

The Benefits from this recommendation would allow:

The number of current and projected COVID-19 positive/quarantine cases to decrease and slow following the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday break.

Residential students to reduce the number of trips home/away during the semester and likely limit the potential for spread due to off-campus trips.

The additional time leading up to the start of the semester to be used for gathering additional data on the health status at the local, regional and national level.

The college to fully implement a COVID-19 surveillance testing approach.

Students to take the additional 12-day period to continue preparing (e.g., purchase books, check messages from the college, etc.) for a successful semester.

Faculty to take the additional 12-day period to send communication to the enrolled students (e.g., syllabus update, course adjustments, etc.).

The students who were seeking a late start option (February Start) to be able to start with the rest of the students on January 25. This will allow them an additional week in the semester and more course options from which to choose.

Admission, academic or grading policies to remain unchanged.

The implementation of the recommendation would come with the following Adjustments:

The instructional course time (per credit hour) would be met by eliminating the time allocated for Spring Break.

Depending on the course meeting schedule, some sections may also have additional asynchronous sessions to meet the instructional course time expectation.

Highlanders-in-Residence will change their move-in schedule from Monday, January 11 to Sunday, January 24.

We trust that all members of Highlander Nation will use this additional time to do our part to reduce and mitigate the spread of the virus. At a minimum, please continue to practice the Healthy Highlander Way both on and off campus. This includes wearing a face covering in public, washing your hands in the recommended manner, self-monitoring for symptoms and keeping your distance.

We would also like to remind you that, according to the CDC, approximately 45% of COVID-19 positive cases are asymptomatic, which means we can be spreading the virus without displaying any symptoms. To that end, we are strongly encouraging you to take a COVID-19 test during the next several days (especially if you have traveled, have been around large groups or have been possibly exposed to the virus).

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