By Cadet Merritt Reeves
There is nothing ordinary about The Citadel, and the way the college is responding to the challenges presented by the coronavirus is no exception. While many college and universities have canceled in-person semesters, The Citadel has resumed the campus experience with modifications for the health and safety of students, faculty and staff. Throughout campus, hand sanitizing stations have been erected, masks are required of everyone, social distancing is enforced and many everyday activities have been modified or cancelled. Despite these changes, The Citadel is business as usual.
July 29, the day that 55 fall freshmen athletes matriculated, marked the return of students to campus since the quarantine began last March. With only a few caveats, new changes and safety precautions were incorporated, and the athletic freshmen were trained to standard. The next milestone was matriculating 700 more freshmen Aug. 8. Faculty, staff, and cadre — the group of cadets responsible for training the freshmen — were prepared for a new but effective training period.
Now, the college is constantly monitoring cadets as a safeguard against COVID-19. Once a week, four cadets are selected randomly from each company to be tested for the coronavirus. The status of the virus on campus is regularly updated for all to see on The Citadel Today newsroom too. As of October 15, there have been 123 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 120 of which have recovered; three others are in quarantine.
In addition to routine monitoring, new learning alternatives and safety protocols are in place. Most classes, for example, employ a hybrid mode of learning, alternating between in-class instruction and online Zoom lectures to limit population density in the physical classrooms. One change that is as unusual as it is novel, is seeing an instructor’s iPad mounted in a holder that resembles a type of robot in classrooms. Professors wear a Bluetooth lanyard that signals the head of the bot holding the iPad. The Swivl homing devices then follow the professors as they move, so those attending remotely have similar experiences to those there in person during the lectures.
Except for the occasional “Oops! Wrong class, wrong day,” cadets have acclimated to the new pace of learning and are responding well to the changes.
“Although COVID has made our lives tough, there has been plenty of good that has come out of us being able to be on campus,” said Palmetto Battery Company Commander, Cadet Colton Webster. “As leaders, we’ve been forced to improvise, adapt and overcome the challenges from the virus. Our determination is making this year successful and shows that even when things are hard The Citadel and its cadets can be an example for others to follow.”
Cadet Merritt Reeves is an intern in the Office of Communications and Marketing. A junior majoring in English with a Spanish minor, she has earned Gold Stars for academic excellence. After graduation, she plans to return to her home town of Columbia and attend law school.