STATESBORO — In an interview with The George-Anne on June 3, Georgia Southern President Kyle Marrero confirmed that, as of now, the GS campus community can plan to return to campus for fall.
“Our direction is clear: to open for face-to-face,” said Marrero.
The decision, however, does not rest solely with Marrero. GS officials, including Marrero, are listening to directives from public health officials, Governor Brian Kemp’s office and the University System of Georgia (USG).
“Fall is going to be — and I hate to use the word because you’ve heard it so often — [a] new normal,” said Marrero. “But our goal is to bring that vibrancy… back to life in the classroom.”
Marrero estimated that we won’t return to an pre-COVID-like atmosphere for six to 12 months. And that’s just a guess. Everything depends on what COVID-19 does, what the fall flu season will bring and other variables that affect the way GS operates.
Marrero also knows that some students may consider taking a gap year if GS is forced to hold instruction online.
“Gap years can be a wonderful idea,” said Marrero. “But I can tell you more than often that that gap year becomes two or three or four and then regrets that you didn’t finish it and keep moving.”
“Stick with [GS], move through this… keep your progress going because this is a time of which you want to capitalize on completing your degree,” Marrero added.
Most of the information provided by GS officials about reopening thus far has been directed to employees.
The planning document, sent to GS employees, can be found below.
“Opening can’t happen unless we have [all of the employees] on campus,” said Marrero. “From the returning student’s standpoint, you’ll see a lot more in the coming weeks as we get closer [to August].”
John Lester, vice president for university communications and marketing, clarified that reopening plans are still in review.
“Once that word comes down on what contingency we’re going to be in when we go back into school this fall, that will be communicated widely,” said Lester. “We can tell [students] what our plan is right now, but we don’t have all the details outlined yet, finalized.”
Marrero said the reopening planning process has, and will always be, centered around GS’ vision statement, “People. Purpose. Action: growing others to grow ourselves.”
“You know, I really care about people. I care about every faculty and staff member,” said Marrero. “They’re the ones elevating knowledge, transferring knowledge, creating an environment where our students can succeed.”
Marrero is excited for the opportunity the campus community has before them leading into August.
“It is an incredible opportunity for us to rise to the occasion,” said Marrero. “I think this fall represents yet another opportunity to show… the Eagle Nation pride that we roll up our sleeves, we get it done, we make it work.”
The George-Anne also asked Marrero about the recent arrest of three GS students while protesting in Atlanta. Marrero declined to comment, citing a need for more information on the incident.
Andy Cole, Managing Editor for News Coverage, firstname.lastname@example.org