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Fall 2020 Opening of Campus

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The most common questions and answers around fall opening

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July 31 Student Update

Logging symptoms, education module, behavioral agreement

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July 31 Fac/Staff Update

Schedule your test, logging symptoms, education module

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Town Halls

Thank you to those who attended one of our virtual Town Halls for Students and Families or Athletes and Families. If you were unable to attend, the full recordings are available HERE.

If you have additional questions, see the Fall Opening FAQ page.

Message From The President (Aug 1)

Dear Students:

A week ago, I sent you a letter describing how we will manage the risk of transitioning back to campus.

This past week, you should have received three other emails pertaining to your return to campus:

  • a link from residence life to schedule your move-in on campus
  • a link to receive your coronavirus test kit at home (if you are a residential student), or here at Berry (if you are a commuter or here already)
  • a link to a brief and required education module as well as information about behavioral expectations at Berry related to COVID-19

It is extremely important that you follow the instructions in each of these e-mails prior to your return to campus.

In this letter, I write to explain the details of how we will meet the challenge of interacting day-to-day here on campus, and how we can protect the residential community -- the “Berry Bubble” – by managing the campus boundaries.

Coronavirus spreads primarily through sustained direct contact, defined as: more than 15 minutes, at a distance of less than 6 feet, without appropriate face covering. 

Our approach to managing the risk of sustained, direct contact involves three components:

  1. Minimizing spread by way of: face coverings, outdoor activities, social distancing, personal hygiene, building hygiene, limited events and gatherings, and campus and personal boundaries
  2. Monitoring spread by way of: entrance screening and on-campus screening, and continued testing
  3. Containing spread by way of: isolation, contact tracing and quarantine procedures


The virus can spread even before a person knows they are sick and while they are without symptoms (asymptomatic). Thus, it is important to wear face coverings and socially distance even when you and others seem perfectly healthy. Appearances can be deceiving. 

Be particularly careful and guarded if you or someone close by is actively sneezing or coughing. 

Face coverings: Normally must be worn whenever within 6 feet of another person.

The general rule:

  • All indoor public spaces: classrooms, hallways, lounges, and other event spaces
  • All outdoor areas where you will be close to or passing by other people
  • Threshold to threshold: put your face covering on when you leave your residence hall room and leave it on until your return. For commuters, put your face covering on when you get to campus and leave it on until you leave.


  • Personal offices, residential rooms or on-campus personal homes
  • People living in the same residence (e.g., roommates, family)
  • The limited period of time when you are eating (but not just socializing)
  • For personal hygiene, while maintaining 6 feet of distance
  • When engaged in personal fitness or recreational activities, if maintaining 6 feet of distance
  • In certain classroom and dining situations based on room configuration and use

There is a strong consensus that universal wearing of face coverings will disrupt spread of the virus. This practice is the backbone of our risk management strategy for social engagement. Members of the Berry community should have a face covering with them at all times.

Not all face coverings offer equal protection. Effective coverings need at least 2 layers of tightly woven fabric fitting snugly over both the nose and mouth. 

Cloth Coverings:  Two-layer tightly woven fabric (e.g., cotton); environmentally-friendly; can be washed and re-used.

Disposable Masks:  Often used in medical settings; designed to prevent the wearer from spreading respiratory droplets.

Face Shields:  Curved clear plastic from below the chin and to the ears; protects wearer and others from droplets.

Gaiters/Buffs:  Tube of fabric pulled over nose and mouth; fabrics often thinner -- need at least two layers.

Bandanas:  Not acceptable. Do not meet standard for face coverings. Generally too open and thin to provide adequate protection.

For one-time immediate needs, disposable face masks will be available at the Krannert Info Desk between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. 

Outdoor Activities and Events: When possible eat, socialize, gather, exercise outside. 

Air circulation is better and the virus dissipates more rapidly. Outdoors is better than indoors.

Where better to be outdoors than Berry?

Some classes may meet outside under tents when appropriate. Faculty will have access to personal sound amplification devices for this purpose.

Social distancing: When possible, stay 6 feet away from others.  

Physical separation provides a perimeter of protection in addition to the face covering and is important even when outdoors.  

The campus has a variety of indoor spaces of different sizes and with different functions. In general, when other people are present, face coverings need to be worn. In general, 6 feet or more of separation is better. However, with certain precautions – no vigorous respiratory exertion, or with staggered and unidirectional seating – 3 feet of separation with appropriate masks is satisfactory.

Many classrooms are now configured with 6-feet of separation. In some cases, classrooms with seats all facing in one direction are configured with 3 or more feet of separation. Some classes will have options to meet outdoors or in larger spaces.

All classrooms have plexiglass shields to separate faculty and students as needed.

Face coverings are required in all classrooms.  

Hallways, stairs and elevators:
It is best to time your movement to avoid crowding. As needed, corridors and stairways may be converted to unidirectional flow.  

The dining hall has been configured to encourage distancing and minimize contact. Tables have been separated and chairs staggered. New seating and food distribution areas have been added. All food stations are now served by an attendant, and grab-n-go meal options will be provided.

Fitness and Recreation:
The Cage fitness area will be open with modified hours of operation and capacity restrictions. The Cage arena, Ford gym, Richards gym, MAC gym, and racquetball courts will remain closed for recreational use at the start of the semester. The pool and locker room use will be open for limited hours with capacity restrictions. All outdoor recreation and athletic facilities will be open. Outdoor gear will be available for rental. The Richards weight room will be open for varsity athletic team use with restricted capacity and increased cleaning.

Personal Hygiene: Clean your hands often and thoroughly; don’t touch your face.

Germs picked up on the hands can be transferred to the mouth or eyes inadvertently. It is important to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds on a regular basis and it makes sense to carry a small container of hand-sanitizer (60%-plus alcohol) with you. 

Hand-sanitizing stations are located at the entrances to all campus buildings and in many other locations. Personal containers can be refilled at the information desk in Krannert.

If you are actively sneezing or coughing, move far away from other people. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or the inside of your elbow when sneezing or coughing. Immediately wash your hands thoroughly or use a hand sanitizer.  

Building Hygiene: 

Cleaning protocols for academic and common spaces:

  • Daily cleaning with use of EPA Registered Disinfectants and Anti-Viral spray by trained and certified staff.
  • Increased cleaning frequencies of high touch surfaces such as door knobs and light switches. 
  • Increased cleaning frequencies of public restrooms throughout the day.
  • Sanitation stations (wipes and hand sanitizers) installed in each building.

Cleaning protocols for residential spaces: 

  • Deep cleaning process prior to occupancy
       - Step 1: Remove organic materia
       - Step 2: Apply EPA-approved disinfecting products and emerging viral pathogen protection 
  • Daily cleaning of public and community-style restrooms and areas with use of EPA Registered Disinfectants and Anti-Viral spray by trained and certified staff.
  • Increased cleaning frequencies of high touch surfaces such as door knobs, faucets, and laundry facilities.
  • EPA-approved disinfecting spray available to students before and after personal use of community-style restrooms.
  • Available hand sanitizer stations for students in each residence hall.

HVAC Filters:
Upgraded to hospital-grade (MERV-13) air filters, as recommended by the CDC, in residential, academic and other buildings across campus.

Events and Gatherings:  Limited to 50 or less, outdoor and indoor

The current limitation is in accord with Governor Kemp’s executive orders. This number may change over time. For now, events will be limited in size and require face coverings and social distancing.

“Bubbles” and Boundaries

Campus Boundaries:  Visitors restricted; Berry community members screened 

Until we have established a stable community, we will restrict visitors to campus. We plan to admit visitors on a limited basis if campus and local risk levels are appropriately stable. We may use (as we are presently) a system that allows students and employees to host visitors by submitting a form to the Welcome Center.

Local travel:  Limited to essential needs

For the first month of school, all students are expected to restrict travel to essential needs within the immediate Rome community. Examples of essential travel include trips to the grocery store, pharmacy, gas station place of worship, and approved off-campus employment. Students are asked to wear their face coverings as well as practice social distancing diligently even when off of campus.

Extended travel:  Restricted

For the first month of school, all students are expected not to travel outside of the immediate Rome area. We understand there may be special circumstances that might warrant a visit home (e.g., for a medical appointment or other previously scheduled need). If possible, we ask that such appointments be re-scheduled. If an exception is needed, students are expected to register their request for over-night or extended travel as early as possible and no less than 24-hours prior to their departure from campus. At the start of the semester, a form will be available on the Viking Web COVID-19 page for this purpose.

Residence Hall Boundaries:  Visitors restricted

Until we have established a stable community, students are not to host students who are not their roommates in their residence hall room or suite. Students are encouraged to use outdoor spaces to gather with friends.  

Personal Bubbles:  Connect often, but with fewer people

Another way to manage personal risk is to reduce the number of people with whom you have direct sustained contact. Normally, Berry encourages and is known for the warmth and connectedness of its community. However, when risk levels are high, we encourage you to limit your primary social interactions to those you know well and trust to maintain standards of good health and caution comparable to your own. Restricting the size of your bubble (the variety of people you interact with) decreases the likelihood that you will be exposed to a positive case. It also allows you to easily identify your direct contacts should one of you test positive.


Screening at the Welcome Center / Entrance Gate

Commuting students and employees:
Daily access to campus will include a temperature scan. All students and employees must also complete a daily symptom checklist using the Medicat portal before entering campus.  

If a concern is raised during the screening process, commuting students and employees will be restricted from campus and directed to the appropriate health care resource. Students will be referred to the Berry Health Center.

Residential students and employees:
All students and employees must record a daily temperature reading and complete a symptom checklist using the Medicat portal before leaving their place of residence. (As needed, we may also check temperatures at various locations on campus.)

If a temperature or symptom is observed during this process, residential students must contact the Berry Health Center before leaving their room. Residential employees must contact their health care provider before leaving their residence.


Testing will be coordinated for students as deemed necessary by the team at the Berry Health Center.  That includes students who show symptoms associated with COVID or those who have had sustained direct contact with someone who tests positive.  

The college may also engage in occasional testing more generally depending on the local level of risk, the need to gauge prevalence on campus, or needs associated with certain activities (e.g., off-campus travel, athletic competition, off-campus employment).  

The college will have access to PCR testing as well as rapid antigen testing and will continue to review new methods as they become available in coming months.


Isolation and quarantine help protect the community by preventing exposure to people who have or may have contracted the virus.

  • Isolation separates people with a confirmed case (positive test) from people who are not sick.
  • Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a confirmed case to see if they too become sick.


Students who test positive must isolate from other people, either at home, if appropriate, or in an isolation room at the college. Food service and nursing oversight will be provided at the college. Local hospital facilities are excellent should that need ever arise. 

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 with symptoms will need to stay in isolation until:

  • At least 10 days have passed since the symptom onset; and
  • At least 24 hours have passed without a fever or the use of fever-reducing medications, and
  • Other symptoms have improved

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 without symptoms (asymptomatic) will need to stay in isolation for 10 days after the date of their first positive test.

The absence of symptoms does not necessarily indicate a false positive. Some confirmed cases never show symptoms but still transmit the disease to others.

Contact Tracing

When the college learns that a member of the community has tested positive for the coronavirus, it will initiate contact tracing in conjunction with the Department of Public Health. The college has staff and students who are trained and certified in contact tracing. The Department of Public Health may also conduct its own contact tracing.  

Members of the community will be notified and instructed should they need to quarantine as a result of the contact tracing. People who are “once-removed” from the positive case (“a contact of a contact”) do not normally need to quarantine; in other words, those in direct contact with someone in quarantine only do not need to quarantine themselves. People in quarantine will normally be tested four-five days after direct exposure. 


If a student has been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or is showing a pattern of COVID-19 symptoms, they should contact the Berry College Health Center immediately. The Health Center, in consultation with the Department of Public health, may require that student to quarantine, either at home, if appropriate, or in a quarantine room at the college. Food service will be provided through the college along with monitoring by the Health Center. 

Students instructed to quarantine as a result of sustained direct contact with a confirmed case will need to quarantine for 14 days after exposure, with or without symptoms. People in quarantine will normally be tested four-five days after direct exposure. A negative test does not mean, however, that the quarantine has ended as it can take up to 14 days to exhibit symptoms or show a positive test result. The expectation is that students will remain in their quarantine space for 14 days. (In some cases, a person isolated for a confirmed case will be able to leave isolation earlier than a person quarantined due to a possible infection. That is because the confirmed case would already be several days into the infection cycle.)

Acting to minimize risk – through face coverings, social distancing, good hand-washing and limited personal “bubbles” – is the smart way to avoid having to quarantine.

Steve Briggs

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