ETSU President: ‘About 20 percent’ of classes to be held in-person this fall

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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – ETSU President Dr. Brian Noland announced on Monday that ETSU will not start the fall semester in Phase 3 as hoped.

During an online press conference, Dr. Noland said the university would be opening under an “Amended Phase 2” due to the increase of local COVID-19 cases.

You can watch News Channel 11’s live stream of the press conference below:

Noland said the bulk of ETSU’s classes would be held online during the upcoming semester.

About 20% of classes will be held on-campus, according to Noland.

Those classes that are on-campus have a physical requirement component. They are primarily medical and engineering courses that require hands-on work.

“So for students in the College of Medicine, who are taking gross anatomy course, a certain portion of that course you have to physically be on ground to work with that specimen in the gross anatomy lab. Likewise for engineering technology for music for art and for a lot of our academic disciplines on campus that are hands on experiential learning or have clinical components built in,” Dr. Noland said.

Residence halls will be transitioned to single-occupancy in rooms to limit physical interaction between students. Noland said students and parents were notified last Friday. “That protects the health, safety, and welfare of our students in the residence halls,” he said.

“We’ve taken that action to reduce density in the residence halls to take everyone down to singles and that protects the health, safety and welfare of Our Students in the residence halls,” Dr. Noland said. “For any students who was in a double. We are continuing to charge them double price for single room, and for the almost 90 students who had signed up for singles going into the fall, they will see their room rates essentially dropped in half.”

ETSU is also limiting indoor and outdoor gatherings.

“That’s hard for universities because we’re in the business of bringing people together,” Noland said.”

Noland said inside gatherings will be limited to no more than 15 people, except in certain academic exceptions.

Outside gatherings will be limited to no more than 50 people.

Masks are required on campus inside all buildings and outside where physical distancing is not possible.

Noland said staff will have the flexibility to work from home due to the virus.

“We’re going to continue to allow our employees, the flexibility to work from remote environments. We’ve done that successfully through the spring and into the fall. So as we began to launch the campus and in a traditional setting for the fall. We’re going to give that flexibility to our employees,” Dr. Noland said.

Noland also said while a decision has not officially been made regarding fall contact sports in the Southern Conference, he believes it is “virtually impossible” sports will be played.

ETSU expects more than 14,000 students to enroll for the fall semester. Enrollement at ETSU last fall was 14,589,

Noland said about 1,800 students would live in residence halls this fall with the deadline to register for dorms coming on Wednesday. An ETSU spokesman confirmed 2934 students lived on campus last fall.

Noland also told News Channel 11’s Pheben Kassahun during the press conference that he strongly encourages students to not take a “gap year” in their studies.

Look for Pheben Kassahun’s full story on ETSU’s Operations Plan for the upcoming semester tonight at 6 p.m. on News Channel 11.

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