The future of Salisbury University continues to grow foggy as the campus community grapples with the ongoing, unpredictable effects of COVID-19.
While SU’s coronavirus positivity rate has remained low since recording a massive spike in cases during early September — maintaining below 2% positivity over the last 30 days on SU’s coronavirus dashboard — the campus still faces great uncertainty in the upcoming months.
SU President Charles Wight previously expressed the warnings of the country’s medical professionals during his weekly COVID-19 briefings, urging the campus community to brace for another coronavirus surge during the winter season.
With new potential spikes looming, SU students, faculty and staff should expect the uncertainty to continue well beyond 2020.
Wight conveyed that every item on the university’s calendar remains subject to change for the foreseeable future as potential challenges posed by the virus continue to surface and threaten SU’s levels of operation.
Thus far, SU has already instituted an all-virtual commencement ceremony for the class of 2020 in December and an abbreviated spring break of two days, as precautionary measures for the pandemic.
Despite the various challenges faced throughout the fall semester, Wight has touted the university as one of the most successful institutions in the state in adjusting to the pandemic, with SU being the only institution in the entire University System of Maryland able to welcome students back to campus after Thanksgiving.
The university will continue its current combination of in-person, fully online and hybrid-formatted instruction during the spring semester, with greater opportunities for in-person courses expected.
SU is scheduled to welcome back the campus community for the start of Spring Semester classes on Jan. 25, according to the university’s academic calendar.
The university will be offering coronavirus testing throughout the month of January as students, faculty and staff return to campus, as well as implementing an extended check-in period for students to move into on-campus housing beginning in mid-January, Wight said during a recent briefing.
With all fall and winter sports competition now canceled within the Coast-To-Coast Conference, it is unclear how SU athletics may look during the spring semester.
SU said in a recent news release it will explore potential out-of-conference contests for both fall and winter sports teams, which would be held during the spring semester alongside spring sports competition.
The university had previously planned to host fall and spring sports during the upcoming spring semester before the cancellation, with winter sports being played on-time.
As for commencement for the class of 2021, university administrators have yet to begin discussions on how SU graduates may be able to celebrate receiving their diplomas in-person, Wight said.
“We are always looking for COVID-safe ways of holding a spring commencement,” Wight said during a recent briefing, encouraging all students, staff and faculty to send in potential solutions for a safe ceremony format.
Students should submit suggestions through the university’s Student Government Association or Graduate Student Council, while faculty and staff should send in ideas through the Faculty Senate and Staff Senate.
Parents may also send in potential solutions by email to the firstname.lastname@example.org address.
For more information on SU’s testing protocols or to view the latest university COVID-19 test results, visit https://www.salisbury.edu/coronavirus/testing-info.aspx.
By JAKOB TODD
Featured image courtesy of Salisbury University Counseling Center.