By Riley Morningstar

The Journal

CLEMSON — As nearly 7,000 students return to Clemson University and prepare to begin in-person classes, school officials have plans to put students in hotels to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 if necessary.

University executive director of housing and dining Kathy Hobgood said on-campus housing capacity is typically at 7,600, but has been reduced to 6,800 because of the coronavirus. Quarantine locations have been identified on and off campus — including hotels — although Hobgood said late last week that agreements had not yet been finalized and declined to share specific details “for student privacy.” The school has 650 isolation spaces available.

“I can verify that we will support students at those locations and make sure they have what they need to feed and care for themselves and be compliant with their isolation/quarantine orders,” she said in an email.

According to a September reopening presentation document provided to The Journal, some 455 beds will be used off campus in a complex behind the Esso Club and at the Pier at Lake Hartwell. 

On-campus, there are 174 beds available at Thornhill Village and 45 beds at Douthit Hills for “surge capacity,” the presentation said. 

Current and non-positive students at Douthit Hills will be relocated to rooms at Martin Inn.

Clemson will continue to test 5 percent of students and employees daily as part of its “surveillance” testing strategy. Officials estimate 2,000 people can be tested a day, with results in 24-48 hours. 

In-person instruction is set to begin Monday.

“I am extremely excited to see students arriving and look forward to seeing them walking around our beautiful campus this fall. I am also very appreciative of everyone’s patience during this delay, and especially proud of the hard work from our faculty and staff,” school president Jim Clements said in an announcement. “Importantly, we will not hesitate to change direction if circumstances warrant. I believe, however, we have the strategies and safety protocols in place to give us a good chance for success this fall.”

In Friday’s latest COVID-19 tracking update, school officials announced 243 new positive cases — of which 237 were from students. In the past two weeks alone, there have been 799 student cases announced.

Graduation plans

Last month, Clements said original plans to hold a graduation commencement ceremony inside Memorial Stadium on the weekend of Oct. 9-11 had been scrapped due to the revised ACC football schedule published last week. Clemson is tentatively scheduled to host Miami on Oct. 10.

On Friday, he said the school is now looking at dates and venues in November.

“We understand the uncertainty is frustrating to our graduates and their families, but know that we very much want to provide the experience they deserve and hope to have the details confirmed in the near future,” Clements said. “We appreciate their patience while we work through this.”

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