Two colleges in Columbia announced Thursday that they will resume on-campus instruction in the fall.
Columbia College and Midlands Technical College each say they will have in-person instruction beginning in August. The schools, like other colleges and universities across South Carolina, have been conducting online learning throughout the spring amid the coronavirus pandemic.
According to a release, Columbia College will begin classes on Aug. 24. It will not have a fall break, and in-person classes will end at Thanksgiving break. After Thanksgiving, students will conclude the semester with online classes. The plan is similar to one set for the University of South Carolina, which announced over the weekend that it also would reopen its campus in the fall, with a modified schedule.
Officials say Columbia will be able to offer class with physical distancing — which has been a key principle in helping slow the spread of COVID-19 — in mind.
"All our classes have 30 or fewer students," Provost Madeleine Schep said, in a release. "With 75 percent of our classes having 20 or fewer students and an average class size of 13, there are sufficient classrooms to accommodate all classes with social distancing.”
About 1,200 students attend Columbia College. It has long predominantly been a women's school, but has a plan in place to begin admitting male students, as well.
Meanwhile, Midlands Technical College, which has six campuses, also will return to in-person instruction in the fall semester.
“We look forward to welcoming students back on campus while closely following guidelines from the state health department and the Centers for Disease Control,” MTC President Dr. Ronald L. Rhames said in a statement. “We are taking necessary precautions with in-person instruction and our faculty continues to offer hundreds of virtual and online courses for those who prefer those kinds of learning.”
The technical college says social distancing guidelines will be put in place for the fall. A release from the school says it will perform "consistent disinfecting" of classrooms and workspaces, and put up "signage reminders to encourage personal, proactive measures that help prevent the spread of germs."