ETSU President Brian Noland

ETSU president Brian Noland spoke about plans for the fall semester at Friday’s virtual town hall.

East Tennessee State University President Brian Noland hosted a virtual town hall Friday morning to discuss plans for when the “Bucs are Back.”

Noland said campus officials have been busy throughout the summer preparing for students’ return ahead of the first day of fall classes on Aug. 24.

“We look forward to welcoming our students, faculty and staff back to campus, both for a mix of on-ground courses, hybrid courses and online courses,” Noland said. “But we recognize that this fall is going to look different than falls prior.”

Noland said about 80% of courses will be in an online or hybrid format. On-ground courses will also have an “online component or hybrid component” for those who need it.

Of the nearly 15,000 students enrolled at ETSU, a little over one fifth will likely occupy the campus during its busiest hours. Students will, however, return to residence halls, where officials have identified spaces for students to relocate if they test positive for COVID-19.

Noland said physical distancing and thorough cleaning will be required throughout campus. He said the university has test kits for students who need to be tested.

Over the past few weeks, Noland said many members of the campus community have asked how the university would implement its mask policy following Washington County guidelines.

On Wednesday, the university announced that its mask policy would be mandatory and enforceable at all ETSU sites and “any off-site location where ETSU classes are taught or ETSU classroom activities otherwise occur.”

Face coverings will be required in classrooms, public spaces and outdoor areas where a physical distance of six feet cannot be maintained. Noland said the policy will remain in effect until further notice.

“We do have policies in place in the event that individuals do not wish to comply, both from a staff perspective as well as from a student perspective,” Noland said.

“If the student refuses to put on the mask, remind them to please put it on,” he said. “If they continue to refuse to put it on, then you have the ability to ask them to leave your classroom, reminding them that we have alternative instructional elements that are in place for every single course on this campus.”

Visitors who violate the mask policy may be removed from campus, and faculty who refuse to wear a mask could be subject to disciplinary action.

According to the ETSU website, people alone in a room or with special medical exemptions and children under age 2 are not required to wear a mask.

For more reopening details and frequently asked questions, Noland referred members of the campus community to the university website at