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In-person classes begin at Radford University as COVID-19 cases double in city

Published: Aug. 12, 2020 at 11:11 PM EDT
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RADFORD, Va. (WDBJ) - Wednesday marked the first day of in-person classes for Radford University. It’s the new normal around campus to wear masks between classes, with constant reminders of the school’s campaign to ‘slow the spread, do the five’.

“We’re just adjusting to the new normal, and it’s working out,” said senior Marah Cheek. “We’re doing well.”

Students are required to fill out a daily symptom tracker form before going to class each day.

“I haven’t had any symptoms, so it’s been pretty easy to get through. It takes me no more than five minutes,” Cheek said. “It makes me feel safer on campus knowing everyone has to follow those precautions. "

Students are working to navigate a new COVID world of hybrid classes.

“Coming here on campus it’s nice to see everyone’s actually following the guidelines, keeping the six feet and wearing their masks as well,” said junior Jack Sheffield. “I’ve been taking all of my Zoom classes and I’ve been in contact with a lot of my teachers. People have been very helpful here in helping me get back to school on campus.”

“There’s a lot of planning that happened to get us here today and planning continues to be agile for whatever might happen,” said university spokesperson Caitlyn Scaggs.

One of those modifications is taping off and marking chairs that can’t be used in the classroom. The school also added cameras into all of the classrooms to allow for real-time Zoom sessions. This way students can be at home and participate or be in person.

“I think the students are much better at technology than I am, so they tend to know more than I do and they’re always teaching me new things we can do to stay in touch, even if we’re not able to meet in person every day,” said English professor Dr. Amanda Kellogg. “I am really excited to be back here with our students. I think we all missed them, so it’s really good to see them on campus.”

Kellogg teaches bookend classes in the department, so she sees first-time freshmen and students in their senior year. Most of the time, Kellogg said her classes are in person, but on days when it’s easier to teach virtually, that’s the option she chooses.

“All of the students I have talked to so far have really understood this is a situation that’s developing day-to-day, and that we all have to look out for each other’s health and well-being at the same time that we make sure we’re giving them the best education that we can,” Kellogg said.

Upon arrival to campus, about 1,700 students coming from hot spots got a COVID-19 test. Since the beginning of August, cases in the city have gone from 26 to 58 as of Wednesday. Only about 15-percent of students were tested before coming back as part of the high prevalence selection process.

“We have been very clear with our expectations that we need every member of the Highlander family to operate in safe and wise manners that adhere to public guidelines,” Scaggs said.

They are expectations the university monitors each day closely with the health department.

“It’s our intent to keep in close communication with them on how they’re doing and how they’re feeling, because we know that communication and awareness is going to be key for all of us to be healthy and well together,” Scaggs said.

“I continue to hope everyone stays safe and continues to follow the guidelines so we’re able to stay on campus,” Sheffield said.

Copyright 2020 WDBJ. All rights reserved.

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