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In this Thursday, April 23, 2020 photo, Kenia Anzarado, right, and Mae Catalan, left, works on finishing and packing face masks at the Georgia Expo in Suwanee, Ga. The company has pivoted from sewing curtains to sewing cloth face masks. As business restrictions ease companies are preparing to open, but one key ingredient to safety is nearly impossible to find, personal protective equipment. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

University of North Georgia students will be expected to practice measures such as wearing face coverings if social distancing is unavoidable when they return to campus in August, officials said Wednesday.

The school said it is preparing for face-to-face instruction, but will conduct online learning if necessary to protect students, employees and faculty from the novel coronavirus. Employees will begin returning to the university's campuses, in various phases, starting Monday.

The university has five campuses, with an enrollment last year of nearly 20,000 students.

"It is important to bring our students back to our campuses to engage in the full higher education experience," the university's president, Bonita Jacobs, said in a statement. "The goal is to restore as much of the face-to-face experience as possible while taking measures to prioritize the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff."

University officials said they are working on plans that allow students to sit six feet away from each other in classrooms and provide flexible class schedules. To meet those goals, the size of meetings and gatherings will be limited, officials said.

Some of the protective measures will fall upon students, university officials said. Students who live on campus will be responsible for cleaning their rooms, the officials said.

Matthew Boedy, an assistant professor of rhetoric and composition at the university, wrote in an op-ed posted Wednesday before the university' s announcement on The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Get Schooled Blog that he's worried Georgia's public colleges and universities aren't doing enough to protect students and employees, noting that some schools are buying all of their students masks or requiring students to face coverings. Boedy is the conference president of Georgia's chapter of the American Association of University Professors.

University officials said more information about the fall semester plans will come soon on its website.

 

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