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UNG reopens all five campuses with safety in mind

2020-08-24-Betzy-Romulo
UNG sophomore Betzy Romulo said it was refreshing to be in a classroom with other students even while wearing masks and practicing social distancing. The 18-year-old from Moultrie, Georgia, said she was consistently reminded of the health and safety guidelines by UNG faculty members and staff.

Usually University of North Georgia (UNG) students noisily meet and greet their fellow classmates and faculty in the first week of the fall semester. But this year has not been usual.

With social distancing measures in place for this semester, UNG is offering a mix of face-to-face, fully online and hybrid courses that enable students to have a blend of in-person and online instruction. On the first day, to get students familiar with course information and UNG's digital learning platform, many courses held the first meeting online. Students on campus purchased books, got their IDs, visited the library or Rec Center, or grabbed a snack or meal.

In the days since, in-person classes have operated with limited occupancies and some classes, like music, have met outdoors. These sights are part of the new normal designed to create a safe and healthy educational space for UNG students to learn and experience college life during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Our students arrived on campus under new guidelines for the health and safety of our university community, which is our top priority," UNG President Bonita Jacobs said. "We are committed to giving students the best possible education experience as we adhere to CDC and state public health guidelines."

To accomplish this, UNG students, faculty, staff and campus visitors are urged to follow safety precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In addition to social distancing, precautions include wearing a face covering, washing hands often, and conducting a daily self-check before coming to campus.

Ryann Carter, a senior pursuing a degree in history, checked her temperature and made sure to have her mask before driving to the Dahlonega Campus.

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Ryann Carter, a senior pursuing a degree in history, said she checked her temperature and made sure to have her mask before heading to the Dahlonega Campus.

"Usually the parking deck is full and finding a spot can be challenging, but it was much emptier than typically expected for the first day of classes," Carter, a 21-year-old from Gainesville, Georgia, said.

She and her friends walked around campus to chat with people as they stood 6 feet apart. Once inside, she noted the hallways were noticeably quieter. Despite the difference, Carter is glad to be back for her final year.

Dr. Robert Robinson, director of Multicultural Student Affairs (MSA) at UNG, is also glad to be back on campus.

"It was quite exciting to see students who I haven't seen in a while and getting back to some sense of normalcy," Robinson said. "We have additional protocols to follow for their safety, so we don't have students (hanging out) in the office. That is regrettable, because I selfishly miss the office being full."

Robinson and other Student Affairs staff are connecting with students virtually. He said plans are in the works to introduce all freshmen to the MSA and UNG clubs virtually.

The College Assistance Migrant Program completed its orientation program in person with social distancing guidelines to foster student engagement. Betzy Romulo, a sophomore pursuing a degree in communications with a multimedia journalism concentration, said it gave her a taste of college life.

"Being in a classroom with other students was refreshing," said the 18-year-old from Moultrie, Georgia. "We were seated 6 feet apart, and we were constantly reminded of the guidelines and what was expected of us."

For more information regarding campus guidelines and operational updates, visit ung.edu/together.

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