AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — The “Now-Normal,” a term Augusta University’s President emphasized during Tuesday’s town-hall. Dr. Brooks Keel discussed potential budget cuts, plans for students to return to campus, and how the fall semester could look.
“We’re getting ready for you,” expressed Dr. Keel. “We’re excited to welcome you back this fall, and we are committed to offering you a college experience that so many of you want.”
Like many colleges nation-wide, AU is working on a plan to bring back its students and staff safe. Dr. Keel announced the school would use the next two months to start phasing employees back to its campuses.
“We are currently, teleworking under flexible schedules, to come back to a more normal on-site work,” explained Dr. Keel.
Dr. Keel says AU will return to in-person classes with social distancing guidelines.
He says there are three other contingency plans in place if COVID-19 alters the first plan.
“This is going to be a little more ramped up in regarding social distancing,” said Dr. Keel. “We will establish a minimum of telework and online instruction requirements and accommodations for staff as needed.”
Classes will start on July 1st on the Health Sciences Campus. Students will return to the Summerville Campus on August 10th.
“However, we may have to divide half of the class,” said Dr. Keel. “Half the class may attend face-to-face Monday and Wednesday. The other half can attend Tuesday and Thursday, while the remainder of the time, the class takes their lessons remotely.”
The university is also dealing with budget cuts. All state agencies have been asked to prepare a plan to cut 14 percent of their budgets. AU’s plan calls for a 20 percent cut, but Dr. Keel says that’s not final.
“They are constitutionally mandated to pass a budget this fiscal year, and the governor must sign it by July 1st,” explained Dr. Keel. “We will have a budget, there is no guarantee when it will be, but it when will be sometime in June.”
Students and staff will be encouraged to wear face masks when they return to campus.