Fall 2021 Plan

What is the plan for the fall 2021 semester?

The College's COVID-19 leadership team updated the COVID-19 guidelines as of August 17, 2021. These guidelines were developed in conjunction with other university officials across the state, public health officials from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (S.C. DHEC) as well as at the direction of the South Carolina General Assembly. The College of Charleston’s plan is in alignment with state law and other university plans across the state and also much of the country.

While we are excited to have a sense of “normalcy” return to our campus this fall, we want to remind our entire campus community that, just as we did last year, we will pivot and change course as quickly as the situation dictates.

VACCINATIONS

  • In accordance with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and S.C. DHEC guidelines, the College of Charleston strongly encourages everyone in our campus community (students and employees) to get vaccinated. Please note: per state law, the College of Charleston is NOT allowed to require COVID-19 vaccination for any students or employees. 
  • Free vaccination clinics will be made available to students twice a week once classes start through Student Health Services (181 Calhoun Street). 
  • Employees can find any number of free clinics around campus and throughout the Charleston region
  • Every student, including returning students, should complete the College of Charleston COVID-19 Vaccination Documentation Form. This information is critical to decision-making related to the operation of the College during the 2021–22 academic year. The information entered into the Microsoft form is kept strictly confidential; neither parents nor students will receive an email that indicates their vaccination status – whether vaccinated or unvaccinated.
  • The College will begin collecting employee vaccination status on a voluntary basis.   
  • The College will announce incentive campaigns for both vaccinated students and employees. Incentives will range from scholarships for students to professional development funds for staff. Details on these programs will be coming out soon. 
    • Only those who have submitted proof of vaccination will be eligible for these incentives. 
  • Vaccination statistics 
    • Students: Students continue to upload their vaccination documentation before the start of classes using the College of Charleston COVID-19 Vaccination Documentation Form. At this time, nearly 60 percent of the entire student body has indicated that they have received a COVID-19 vaccine.
    • Employees: Based on a previous anonymous survey of faculty and staff this summer, we can estimate about 93% of the employee population is fully vaccinated. The manner of the survey does present some potential bias, but it does show that, given the sample size, an overwhelming majority of our employees are vaccinated. The College will continue to encourage employees to voluntarily report their vaccination status here

FACE-COVERINGS/MASKS

The College requires face coverings for all members of the campus community, regardless of vaccination status, while around others indoors in all of its campus facilities, including classrooms and laboratories. The mask requirement does not apply in a student’s own residence hall room, a faculty or staff member’s private office (if alone) or while eating/drinking indoors on campus.

This requirement for wearing face coverings will be reviewed on a monthly basis to determine its appropriateness and duration.

The requirement of wearing face coverings when around others indoors aligns with the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SC DHEC). Thanks to our students, faculty, staff members and visitors’ willingness to comply with this directive so that the College of Charleston may mitigate the possible spread of COVID-19 and keep our campus community safe and healthy.

All students must wear masks or face coverings inside classrooms. NO MASK, NO CLASS!

We understand that accidents happen. Masks will be lost, forgotten or damaged; however, these are not acceptable excuses for showing up to campus or class without a mask on. To provide a safety net, the Stern Center has cloth face coverings available whenever the Stern Center is open. These masks are available for emergencies and mishaps; please do not treat them as your personal supply.

Another important point about face masks: not all face masks provide the same level of protection.

  • Masks with one-way valves or vents that allow air to be exhaled through a hole in the material do not prevent the person wearing the mask from transmitting COVID-19. Therefore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend these types of masks for controlling virus spread.
  • Neck gaiters are also not recommended. These circular fabric tubes worn around the neck and pulled up over the mouth and nose may be among the least effective types of face coverings for preventing the spread of respiratory droplets, according to a study by Duke University.

IN THE CLASSROOM

  • Classes that were not initially created as fully online will be conducted in a face-to-face manner at their scheduled time and location. 
  • For in-person classes, classrooms and course sections will be filled to the fire-code, regular capacity of the room.
  • In classes where there are a series of COVID-19 absences, faculty may elect to move the section to a fully online mode for the duration of the time the students are in quarantine. 
  • Students in quarantine or isolation should make arrangements with their professors to keep up on their coursework. 

NON-ACADEMIC AND STUDENT MEETINGS/GATHERINGS

  • In general, indoor events or activities are limited to no more than 50 people or the capacity of the room, whichever is less. 
  • Outdoor events should be limited to a size appropriate for the space that allows for proper social distancing. 
  • All events should strongly encourage social distancing and the wearing of face masks. 
  • Food should be pre-packaged and served as “grab-and-go" as appropriate. 
  • Sottile Theater, Athletics and Dining Services will continue to follow their respective COVID-19 protocols and are, therefore, exempt from the above event restrictions. 

STUDENT TRAVEL/STUDENT-AFFILIATED GROUP TRAVEL — Effective Friday, August 20, 2021

Students may participate in student organization travel as well as athletic competition and/or practices as part of Campus Recreational Services provided the travel is within a 50-mile radius of the College of Charleston (66 George Street, Charleston, S.C. 29424). Overnight stays are not permitted. All travel to and from must occur within the same day.

The College of Charleston recommends that when social distancing cannot be maintained in vehicular travel, masks should be worn by all participants and windows remain open in the vehicle to reduce transmission of COVID-19. When using buses or public transportation, face coverings are required in accordance with CDC and S.C. DHEC guidance.

Team captains and student organization leaders are required to keep a roster of College of Charleston students that are participating in travel related to events, practices, scrimmages or matches/games. These lists should be maintained for EVERY event affiliated with the College including student organizations as well as practices/scrimmages/games and be ready to be given to Student Health Services at a moment’s notice should contact tracing be necessary.

If travel participant rosters are not kept per event, all unvaccinated students exposed to positive cases as part of the travelling event will be required to quarantine per CDC, S.C. DHEC and CofC guidance.

Exceptions may be requested using the exception form.

Student Organization Travel Guidelines are outlined in The Compass: A Guide for Student Organizations on pages 30-34. All travel by student organizations must comply with the travel procedures and funding policies as outlined in guidelines. For more information student organizations may contact LaVerne Cordes, Student Involvement Business Manager (cordeslg@cofc.edu), or Kim McKale, Student Involvement Travel Coordinator (mckalekm@cofc.edu).

Sport Clubs Travel Guidelines are detailed in the Sport Clubs Handbook. All travel by sport clubs must be approved by the university. Information about the guidelines in the handbook should be directed to Eugene Sessoms, Director of Campus Recreation Services, sessomse@cofc.edu.

ALL COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON STUDENTS

ALL students registered or planning to register for classes during the fall 2021 semester must comply with a one-time testing requirement prior to their return to campus. Permitted tests are a COVID-19 PCR or Antigen, and it must be conducted between August 12 and August 19, 2021. Uploads are due no later than 5 p.m. on Friday, August 20, for those living off campus and 24 hours prior to a student's scheduled move-in for those living on campus. Details of the only two exemptions from this requirement are below.

Using your College of Charleston email address and student ID number, test results should be uploaded using the following link: https://forms.office.com.

Please note: students can be exempt from the above requirement if they either:

  • Voluntarily submit their FULLY completed COVID-19 Vaccine Documentation.
    • This form is kept strictly confidential, and it will help with contact tracing on campus. Students who are vaccinated and identified as a close contact will be exempt from quarantine, provided they are asymptomatic. Students who test positive for COVID-19 will be required to isolate regardless of vaccination status.
  • Submit documentation of a positive COVID-19 test result dated after May 22, 2021 to the following link: https://forms.office.com

This testing requirement is in alignment with guidance and policy approved by the Office of the South Carolina Attorney General in an August 2, 2021, communication with the University of South Carolina.

If you have already uploaded your proof of vaccination or results of a positive COVID-19 test dated after May 22, 2021, no further action is needed.

QUARANTINE AND ISOLATION

Non-vaccinated students who are identified as the close contact of someone that has tested positive for COVID-19 will be required to follow a quarantine-and-isolation protocol.

If unvaccinated campus members are deemed to be the close contact of a positive case, the College will follow COVID-19 disease mitigation strategies in accordance with public health officials.

Anyone who is positive for COVID, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, must isolate for 10 days, per CDC and DHEC guidance.

COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON–SPONSORED TRAVEL

For College-sponsored international travel for faculty and staff (see U.S. State Department Travel Advisories):

Travel to countries with U.S. State Department travel advisories of Levels 1 & 2:

Travel Authorizations (TAs) will be considered through the current, regular review process, but must be accompanied by a separate explanation of support by the dean that acknowledges COVID-19 travel restrictions and protocols for the traveler in question. TAs should also include possible additional costs (charged to same index as the other travel expenses) that may be incurred due to aforementioned restrictions and protocols. The complete TA and accompanying explanations should be sent directly to the Controller’s Office.

Travel to countries with U.S. State Department travel advisories of Levels 3 & 4:

The TA must be accompanied by separate explanations of support by the dean and chair that acknowledge COVID-19 travel restrictions and protocols for the traveler in question. The TA should also include possible additional costs (charged to same index as the other travel expenses) that may be incurred due to the aforementioned restrictions and protocols.The complete TA and accompanying explanations will be reviewed by committee. Please send to delmastromp@cofc.edu.

For those employees traveling for work, the CDC strongly recommends being vaccinated.

Guests from foreign countries (all travel advisory levels):

TAs will be considered through the current, regular review process but must be accompanied by separate justifications from the chair and dean that acknowledge COVID-19 travel restrictions and protocols for the traveler in question. TAs should also include possible additional costs (charged to same index as the other travel expenses) that may be incurred due to the aforementioned restrictions and protocols. A COVID-19 release form will be required for each guest.The complete TA and accompanying justifications should be sent directly to the Controller’s Office.

Special Note: By October 15, 2021, the Provost’s Office, in consultation with the president and the Center for International Education, will update the campus community regarding the status of spring 2022 faculty-led and partner study-abroad programs.

Am I required to have the COVID-19 vaccine to come to campus in the fall?

In accordance with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and S.C. DHEC guidelines, the College of Charleston strongly recommends its students, faculty and staff receive the COVID-19 vaccine. However, a COVID-19 vaccination is not required forstudents to enroll or attend the College of Charleston or participate inanycampus activities. Nor is the vaccine requiredfor any employee to work at the College of Charleston.

    • Every student, including returning students, should complete the College of Charleston COVID-19 Vaccination Documentation Form. This information is critical to decision-making related to the operation of the school during the 2021-22 academic year.
    • The information entered into the Microsoft form is kept strictly confidential; neither parents nor students will receive an email that indicates their vaccination status – whether vaccinated or unvaccinated.

Please be aware that all students registered or planning to register for classes during the fall 2021 semester must comply with a one-time testing requirement prior to their return to campus. Permitted tests are a COVID-19 PCR or Antigen, and it must be conducted between August 12 and August 19, 2021. Uploads are due no later than 5 p.m. on Friday, August 20, for those living off campus and 24 hours prior to a student's scheduled move-in for those living on campus. Details of the only two exemptions from this requirement are below.

Using your College of Charleston email address and student ID number, test results should be uploaded using the following link: https://forms.office.com/r/AkjnxmLVk3/a> https://forms.office.com.

Please note: students can be exempt from the above requirement if they either:

    • Voluntarily submit their FULLY completed COVID-19 Vaccine Documentation.
      • This form is kept strictly confidential, and it will help with contact tracing on campus. Students who are vaccinated and identified as a close contact will be exempt from quarantine, provided they are asymptomatic. Students who test positive for COVID-19 will be required to isolate regardless of vaccination status.
    • Submit documentation of a positive COVID-19 test result dated after May 22, 2021 to the following link: https://forms.office.com

This testing requirement is in alignment with guidance and policy approved by the Office of the South Carolina Attorney General in an August 2, 2021, communication with the University of South Carolina.

If you have already uploaded your proof of vaccination or results of a positive COVID-19 test dated after May 22, 2021, no further action is needed.

Do I have to indicate whether I am vaccinated or not?

Every student, including returning students, should complete the College of Charleston COVID-19 Vaccination Documentation Form. This information is critical to decision-making related to the operation of the school during the 2021-22 academic year.

The information entered into the Microsoft form is kept strictly confidential; neither parents nor students will receive an email that indicates their vaccination status – whether vaccinated or unvaccinated.

Are there any incentives for students submitting their COVID-19 vaccination documentation?

Yes. If students upload their COVID-19 vaccination information, they will be part of the College's random drawings for student scholarships. All students who upload their vaccine information prior to the drawing dates are eligible. See below for drawing dates and awards.

Drawing Dates:

  • Thursday, August 26
  • Thursday, September 16
  • Thursday, October 7

Awards:

  • Two $10,000 scholarships ($5,000 awarded in fall and $5,000 in spring)
  • Five $5,000 scholarships ($2,500 awarded in fall and $2,500 in spring)
  • Ten $3,000 scholarships ($1,500 awarded in fall and $1,500 in spring)
  • Twenty $1,000 scholarships ($500 awarded in fall and $500 in spring)

Do students who are fully vaccinated need to submit a COVID-19 test before move in or the start of class?

A COVID-19 test is not required if students upload their vaccine documentation. Students can exempt from return to campus testing if they are vaccinated — provided they have uploaded their vaccine documentation to go.cofc.edu/vax-upload.

Are face coverings required on campus?

Yes. The College requires face coverings for all members of the campus community, regardless of vaccination status, while around others indoors in all of its campus facilities, including classrooms and laboratories. The mask requirement does not apply in a student’s own residence hall room, a faculty or staff member’s private office (if alone) or while eating/drinking indoors on campus.

This requirement for wearing face coverings will be reviewed on a monthly basis to determine its appropriateness and duration.

The requirement of wearing face coverings when around others indoors aligns with the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SC DHEC). Thanks to our students, faculty, staff members and visitors’ willingness to comply with this directive so that the College of Charleston may mitigate the possible spread of COVID-19 and keep our campus community safe and healthy.

All students must wear masks or face coverings inside classrooms.

NO MASK, NO CLASS!

We understand that accidents happen. Masks will be lost, forgotten or damaged; however, these are not acceptable excuses for showing up to campus or class without a mask on. To provide a safety net, the Stern Center has cloth face coverings available whenever the Stern Center is open. These masks are available for emergencies and mishaps; please do not treat them as your personal supply.

Another important point about face masks: not all face masks provide the same level of protection.

Masks with one-way valves or vents that allow air to be exhaled through a hole in the material do not prevent the person wearing the mask from transmitting COVID-19. Therefore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend these types of masks for controlling virus spread.

Neck gaiters are also not recommended. These circular fabric tubes worn around the neck and pulled up over the mouth and nose may be among the least effective types of face coverings for preventing the spread of respiratory droplets, according to a study by Duke University.

Will we have regular, in-person classes?

Classes and course sections will be filled to the fire-code, regular capacity of the room. Within each classroom, three feet of social distancing should be maintained.

How will quarantine and isolation be managed during the fall semester?

Non-vaccinated students who are identified as the close contact of someone that has tested positive for COVID-19 will be required to follow a quarantine-and-isolation protocol.

If unvaccinated campus members are deemed to be the close contact of a positive case, the College will follow COVID-19 disease mitigation strategies in accordance with public health officials.

Anyone who is positive for COVID, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, must isolate for 10 days, per CDC and DHEC guidance.

If a student is in isolation or quarantine, is there a plan for them to attend their classes virtually?

Students who are required to quarantine or isolate need to communicate with their faculty members. The student and faculty member will decide how to best have the student engage with the class. In some instances, they will be able to attend remotely but if that is not possible, faculty members will work with their students to make certain that they can keep up with their assignments.

For the fall semester, do I have the option to attend a class in person or virtually? If I start with in person, can I switch to virtual?

Most classes offered in the fall will be in person and are available depending upon demand, but if you enroll in an in-person class, you must attend in person. If you are enrolled in an in-person class, but decide you want it online, you will need to switch classes (from an in-person to online) before the drop/add deadline, which is Monday, August 30, for full semester classes. For questions about class availability, contact the respective department chair/program director for options.

What is the travel guidance for the fall semester?

For College-sponsored international travel for faculty and staff (see U.S. State Department Travel Advisories):

Travel to countries with U.S. State Department travel advisories of Levels 1 & 2:

Travel Authorizations (TAs) will be considered through the current, regular review process, but must be accompanied by a separate explanation of support by the dean that acknowledges COVID-19 travel restrictions and protocols for the traveler in question. TAs should also include possible additional costs (charged to same index as the other travel expenses) that may be incurred due to aforementioned restrictions and protocols. The complete TA and accompanying explanations should be sent directly to the Controller’s Office.

Travel to countries with U.S. State Department travel advisories of Levels 3 & 4:

The TA must be accompanied by separate explanations of support by the dean and chair that acknowledge COVID-19 travel restrictions and protocols for the traveler in question. The TA should also include possible additional costs (charged to same index as the other travel expenses) that may be incurred due to the aforementioned restrictions and protocols.The complete TA and accompanying explanations will be reviewed by committee. Please send to delmastromp@cofc.edu.

For those employees traveling for work, the CDC strongly recommends being vaccinated.

Guests from foreign countries (all travel advisory levels):

TAs will be considered through the current, regular review process but must be accompanied by separate justifications from the chair and dean that acknowledge COVID-19 travel restrictions and protocols for the traveler in question. TAs should also include possible additional costs (charged to same index as the other travel expenses) that may be incurred due to the aforementioned restrictions and protocols. A COVID-19 release form will be required for each guest.The complete TA and accompanying justifications should be sent directly to the Controller’s Office.

Special Note: By October 15, 2021, the Provost’s Office, in consultation with the president and the Center for International Education, will update the campus community regarding the status of spring 2022 faculty-led and partner study-abroad programs.

Will COVID-19 testing be required to move into campus housing for 2021-2022?

Students moving into College of Charleston campus housing must provide one of the following.

Submit documentation of a PCR or Antigen test taken between August 12 and 19, 2021 at least 24 hours before move-in using the following link https://forms.office.com

Submit your COVID-19 Vaccine Documentation.

  • Please use your campus (CofC) email address to complete the form, you can upload a picture of your vaccination card or a print out from your doctor’s office/vaccine site.
  • This form is kept strictly confidential but will help with contact tracing purposes on campus.

Submit documentation of a COVID-19 positive test result after May 22, 2021 using the following link https://forms.office.com

What activities are in place for incoming first-year students?

First-year students should have received a packet in the mail outlining everything that the Student Affairs team has planned during the Weeks of Welcome. Students should also check out Cougar Connect, which is the portal for all of the Weeks of Welcome and other events throughout the year.

What activities are planned for second-year students?

The Student Affairs team has a wide variety of events and student engagement activities specifically for second-year students, starting with the events for Weeks of Welcome. Students should also check out Cougar Connect, which is the portal for all of the Weeks of Welcome and other events throughout the year.

Prior to move in, what if I have been partially vaccinated or my last vaccine was less than two weeks ago?

Students who have not been fully vaccinated (at least two weeks from their final dose in a complete vaccine series) need to submit test results through the student portal using the following link: https://forms.office.com/r/AkjnxmLVk3.

I am taking classes online or at night; do I have to submit COVID documentation?

Yes, all students are required to participate. Some students come to campus for weekend sessions or to use campus facilities (dining, library, etc.) so we are asking all students to participate.

I have had COVID in the past, can I submit an antibody test?

No, at this time, the College will only accept a PCR or Antigen test. If you have had COVID since May 22, 2021, please upload documentation verifying that infection to the following link:https://forms.office.com. This will provide you with an exemption from return-to-campus testing.

What happens if I don't submit my COVID-19 documentation?

On-campus students who do not submit documentation at least 24 hours before they move-in will not receive keys for their campus housing location until the pre-arrival protocol has been completed. Off-campus students who do not comply may lose access to campus facilities (library, dining facilities, etc.) through their Cougar Card or have holds placed on their classes or accounts until they upload one of the three required items.

How can I make sure you got my COVID-19 information? If I already uploaded the vaccination card, do I have to do it again before coming to campus?

If you uploaded vaccination status to Vax on the Bricks (go.cofc.edu/vax-upload) then further action does not need to be taken. At the end of the form, you can print a copy of your responses or email them to yourself. To confirm the status has been uploaded, you can try to upload and the form will say "already submitted" if the upload has been completed.

Will traffic in and out of buildings be monitored/limited this semester as it was before?

We will start the semester without traffic flow, but if we feel this is creating issues we will return to the traffic flow guidance.

Will classrooms still be filled to regular capacity?

Classes and course sections will be filled to the fire-code, regular capacity of the room. Donning a mask is strongly encouraged and we will have hand wipe stations available at each classroom so students can wipe down their workspace as they enter the classroom.