Returning to Campus Amidst a Global Pandemic


Laura Alyssa Platé, Editor in Chief

The Roar recognizes that with the release of new information and guidelines by the local, state, and federal governments as well as the Center for Disease Control, parameters released by the administration for a safe transition back to in person classes in the fall remain fluid. The Roar will continue to update our online publication to reflect the most accurate information we have regarding a safe return as dictated by the COVID-19 Taskforce, Piedmont’s administration, and other governing bodies as they continue to monitor this unique and evolving situation. For the most up to date information on modifications to campus procedures due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, please check the Piedmont Together page on the Piedmont Website. 


With classes resuming on campus for the first time after a grand total of 157 days away from Piedmont, students, faculty and staff alike are anxious to return to some sense of normalcy. In the last few weeks, the COVID-19 Taskforce, Res Life, and the Office of the President have put out several updates on what life on campus will look like come August and while it will be different than what students left in March, the changes are being made for the safety of the Piedmont Community during this uncertain time. 


The first changes that residential students will notice are changes to check in procedures. In an email sent out by Res Life Coordinator, Mark Jestel, new policies were laid out that stipulate a shortened time frame for move-in and mandatory temperature checks before students and their helpers are allowed to begin moving into their campus housing. Alongside these new steps, students will be asked to fill out a questionnaire about their physical wellness and sign the Piedmont Pledge before being let into their room or apartment. This Pledge will be signed by all students as they return to campus regardless of whether they are commuting or residential. 


“If you look at the Piedmont Pledge, we are encouraging students to think twice about where they are going,” said Dean of Student Life and Leadership, Kim Crawford. “ Obviously, we can’t keep students from leaving campus, but we want them to consider that the choices they make can impact not only themselves but the whole Piedmont Community.”  


As Piedmont is a small school, the communal atmosphere is not foreign to students, but the threat of the COVID-19 is hitting home the need to protect one another for many students. 


“I will wear a mask in our shared communal living spaces if it makes my roommates feel safer,” said senior mass communications major, Savannah Richards. “It’s a small thing to do for one another so we can stay at school this semester.”


Masks will arguably be the most defining change to campus in the fall as Piedmont has instituted a campus wide mask policy. Students, faculty, and staff will be provided two masks at the beginning of the year and will be required to be worn by all school personnel, students, and visitors, indoors and outdoors, with the exception of in residential units. 


“We are very serious about the requirement to wear face coverings in contexts in which social distancing is not possible,” said Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, Dan Silber.  “Within the classroom setting faculty members will require students to wear face coverings.  Students will not be allowed to attend a face-to-face class unless they comply with this requirement.  Any students requesting accommodations to be exempted from the face covering requirement must contact Dr. Sue Smith in the Office of Accessibility, Resources, and Services.” 


Students will bear much of the responsibility for self reporting their symptoms and checking their temperatures regularly. Student’s who show signs of COVID-19 will be required to get tested. In instances where students are showing symptoms and/or testing positive, students will be asked to make arrangements to return home for the completion of quarantine/isolation. Students are encouraged to report through Once in Starfish, students will flag this concern as “I think I am experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.”


 “Students should monitor their own temperatures and gauge how they feel on a daily basis,” said Silber. “If a student is not feeling well on a given day or exhibits two or more symptoms of COVID-19 mentioned in the Piedmont Pledge (fever, cough, shortness of breath, loss of taste/smell, sore throat, headache, chest pain or pressure), then that student should not attend class in person.”


 Further details of the COVID-19 protocol for students can be found online at the  Piedmont Pledge.


Res Life will also be changing their visitor policy for the fall semester. Visiting hours will remain the same for Piedmont students, but no outside visitors will be allowed inside the residence halls. Visitors will also not be allowed into the dining hall, though they will be permitted on other parts of campus. Chartwells has also made great strides to create a safe environment for students to eat. All foods and drinks will be attendant served, cutlery and plates will be disposable, and lines will allow for social distancing. Students, staff, and faculty must wear masks to enter and be served, but may remove their masks at their tables to eat. In addition, the two upstairs dining rooms will be open to give extra space to spread out and eat. 


According to the the Piedmont Together page, “Some college events and gatherings may be altered or canceled to allow for safety protocols. Decisions regarding singular activities will be made by individual departments,” however, residential programming is still being prepared though it will also take a new shape this year to safely accommodate students. 


“We still want to make sure we have the Res Life programing. We want to build community, but we want to do it safely,” said Director of Residential Living, Mark Jestel. “Every day there may be a new way to handle things that is different or better than the day before. Everything is very fluid. The best thing to do for now is wear a mask and social distance as best as you can.”


By now, students are also aware that classes that have 15 or more students enrolled will be sectioned into smaller groups. Three options have been created by the deans of the four schools (Nursing & Health Sciences, Education, Arts & Sciences, and Business) to reduce population density in both classrooms and academic buildings as a whole.  

“Course professors will communicate with their students about the exact format of their course designated by their dean,” said Silber. These three options are as follows according to Silber:

  1. If a class with 15 or more students can consistently relocate to a large classroom in which social distancing is possible, then that class may continue to meet in person throughout the semester until Thanksgiving break.  
  2. Classes over 15 will switch to an alternating schedule in which students and professors meet face to face one week and online the next.  Classes will be designated as “Green” or “Gold” to indicate which weeks they are meeting face to face and which weeks they are meeting online.
  3.  An individual class of students will be divided into two groups, a “Green” group and a “Gold” group.  Group membership will determine whether a given student is meeting in the physical classroom or on the simultaneous Zoom session during any given week.  


“All of this is to protect our number one asset,” said Crawford, “which is our students, professors, and staff.”


Below is a list of resources for students, faculty, and staff as they navigate the unfolding reality of returning to campus in August. 


Move-In Information – 

Dining Services Updates – 

Piedmont Pledge – 

Student Health Response Protocol – 

Athletics Response – 


Questions and concerns can be directed to the COVID-19 Taskforce at [email protected] or by contacting Dr. Kim Crawford (Student Life), Mark Jestel (Res Life), Sue Smith (Disability Services) or Dr. Dan Silber (Academic Affairs) directly via Piedmont email.