Limestone University Off To Strong, Safe Start To Fall Semester
Limestone University students and faculty are back in the classroom, and the Saints are returning to the playing fields as the 2020 fall semester gets ready to wrap up its second week.
The new term officially got underway on Monday, Aug. 17, and according to Limestone President Dr. Darrell Parker, spirits are high as the institution enjoys its first semester as a university.
“To say our students are thrilled to be back on campus would be a huge understatement,” said Parker. “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, like most schools across the country, we moved to remote learning during the spring semester. A lot has happened on our campus since then, including the new three-story library and student center coming out of the ground, the start of construction on a new front campus amphitheater, all the new signage, and of course, the name change to Limestone University. Everyone has been so excited about all the improvements – and they’re obviously happy to be out of their houses back at home and here on campus with their friends and classmates.”
Limestone is randomly testing 125 students per week for COVID-19, and during its first week, there was only one positive test that caused an asymptomatic student to be isolated. That case led to Limestone’s contact tracing protocol that resulted in additional students being quarantined.
“In our first week, we started testing on that Tuesday, so we tested 100 students and had just one positive case,” Parker explained. “That’s a positive rate of only one percent, which means our students are doing the right things when they are on campus and off-campus as far as washing their hands, wearing their face masks, and social distancing as much as possible.
“Compared to the big public schools that have tens of thousands of students, here at Limestone we can test a large percentage of our student body in a short amount of time,” he continued. “There have been some rumors that Limestone has over 100 positive cases, most likely because the word has gotten out that we are testing over 100 students per week. And because students are being quarantined due to contact tracing, that, of course, does not mean any of those tested positive, but that misconception has certainly been out there.”
In addition to classes resuming on campus, the NCAA recently approved for athletic teams to begin conditioning drills, with on-field practices to be phased-in soon.
“We have protocols in place for dealing with positive tests and quarantines and they are working,” Parker said. “But more than anything, it takes buy-in from the students and the entire campus community to keep us here with face-to-face classes and activities, instead of returning to remote learning. Our students really are being Saints.”
In an effort to mitigate exposure to COVID-19, Limestone opted to cancel fall break for its students, and in-person classes will end prior to Thanksgiving, with all final exams taking place online.
Accompanying Photo: Limestone mascot "Bernie" wearing his protective face mask on campus.