SALISBURY – Livingstone College officially reopened its campus Thursday with staff members reporting to their offices for a virtual opening session followed by COVID-19 testing.
The virtual opening session began at 10:30 a.m. with opening remarks by Livingstone President Dr. Jimmy R. Jenkins, Sr., who highlighted events during the past five months in which the campus was closed due to the global pandemic.
The world was attacked by an invisible enemy and like many other college campuses, Livingstone shut down its in-person learning in March and transitioned to distance learning.
“It seemed surreal for all of us – more like a nightmare,” Jenkins said. “This enemy has taken away a major part of our DNA. We are social beings, but we now have to learn to curtail socialization. It is disturbing, but it is what it is. We have to follow the protocols so we can survive this pandemic.”
Jenkins commended his senior staff members and faculty for adjusting efficiently to the new normal in organizing distance learning and maintaining their engagement with students over the past few months.
Jenkins also commended the college’s Reopening Task Force, led by Dr. Anthony J. Davis, senior vice president of Institutional Advancement and chief operating officer, which developed eight protocols to safely reassume campus operations.
Davis outlined those protocols in a series of short videos played during the virtual opening session, where staff members participated in from their respective offices.
The protocols range from screening, security, protection and prevention, and space utilization to disinfectant, food services, quarantine and isolation, and testing. A full description of the protocols can be found at www.livingstone.edu under the coronavirus news and updates tab.
Following the virtual opening session, all staff members, scheduled at various times, reported to Varick Auditorium for COVID-19 testing as part of the college’s screening protocol. Ottendorf Laboratories of Gastonia, North Carolina, partnered with Livingstone to identify asymptomatic cases, which have the capability of expeditiously fueling the spread of the virus. Studies show that four out of five people infected with COVID-19 do not have symptoms, Davis said.
Staff members testing negative will be cleared to return to work on Monday, Aug. 31. Faculty will be tested on another date, and all students will be tested upon arriving to campus.
Residence assistants and student government leaders start returning to campus on Sept. 1; all in-state new students on Sept. 4; out-of-state new students on Sept. 5; and upper classmen Sept. 8-9. Classes begin Sept. 10.
Davis described Jenkins’ pivotal response to the pandemic as calm, calculated, convicted and compassionate. Livingstone doesn’t have the nine-figure endowments that some larger colleges boast, yet there have been no layoffs or furloughs during this pandemic because it was important to Jenkins that his staff “continue their quality of life,” he noted.
Jenkins and his senior staff are hopeful that Livingstone will survive this pandemic and relayed that sentiment to the staff on Thursday.
“It’s important we adhere to the protocols,” Jenkins said. “This is about life and health. We’re doing all these things to make sure we can keep our community safe,” he said of reopening. “We’re excited, but at the same time, we’re cautiously optimistic.”
“I believe we are prepared to survive and come out in better shape than going in,” Jenkins said. “There are 1,001 excuses for failure, but the world is looking for someone who can defy the odds. We want people to look back at this situation and say we were prepared – and we endured.”
About Livingstone College
Livingstone College is a private historically black college that is secured by a strong commitment to quality instruction, academic excellence and student success. Through a Christian-based environment suitable for holistic learning, Livingstone provides excellent business, liberal arts, STEAM, teacher education and workforce development programs for students from all ethnic backgrounds designed to promote lifelong learning, and to develop student potential for leadership and service to a global community. For more information, visit www.livingstone.edu.