Spring 2021 Semester Guide

Compiled by Grace Coughlan (Associate Editor), Jason Cutcher (Contributing Writer), Julia Fluke (Contributing Writer), Caitlyn Freeman (Associate Editor), Meghan Hudson (Editor-in-Chief), Sophia Naughton (Contributing Writer) and Samuel Smith (Contributing Writer).

  1. Health & Safety
  2. Technical Difficulties
  3. Living and Learning On-Campus
  4. Getting Around Town

Health & Safety

COVID-19: Testing and Travel

In order to return to campus this semester, students must present a negative PCR test result within 14 days of their return date. Students who previously tested positive, within 90 days prior to their return, are exempt from being re-tested, and should complete the exemption form posted to the Health Center page. The testing site on-campus will serve all students until Jan. 25, and functions by appointment only. The University will also reimburse the cost of taking a COVID-19 PCR test off campus if taken between Jan. 11 and Jan. 25. The form to request a refund is posted on the University’s website. In addition, out-of-state students are being asked to adhere to state and local guidelines for testing and quarantine. ”All Marylanders who do travel outside of Maryland or any individuals who do travel to Maryland must either obtain a negative COVID-19 test result or self-quarantine for 10 days,” Governor Larry Hogan outlines in his Roadmap to Recovery plan for Maryland. With many TU students being from New York, remember that when returning to New York, you or your family must complete the Traveler Health Form no matter how you travel. “Travelers who leave the airport without completing the form will be subject to a $10,000 fine and may be brought to a hearing and ordered to complete mandatory quarantine,” Governor Andrew Cuomo outlines online. The heated outdoor testing site located outside of TU’s Health Center is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Students, faculty and staff returning to campus are required to submit a negative COVID-19.

Help from the Health Center 

The Health Center will be open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m this spring semester, allowing appointments for potential COVID-19 tests and non-COVID related issues. The TU Health Center is currently open for COVID-19 testing for select situations. Students and faculty are allowed to receive a test from the Health Center if they need an initial test to return to campus, need to get re-tested after a positive diagnosis, or are randomly selected for sentinel testing. Testing is appointment-only, and you must schedule four days in advance. The Health Center is also offering flu vaccines for all students and employees, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., no appointment is necessary. Staff must bring their OneCard, and students must bring their OneCard and insurance card for a flu shot. To schedule general appointments at the Health Center, call 410-704-2466 . Bring your OneCard, insurance card and policy information to the appointment. You will be charged if you do not show up or you cancel within two hours of your appointment. The Nurse Advice Line is also available after hours for non-emergency needs. For after-hour emergencies call 911. 

Flexible Care at the Counseling Center

TU’s Counseling Center adapted the flexible care model for the mental health of students, during the fall semester, to provide the most care to fit students’ specific needs. Students can utilize group counseling opportunities. Due to COVID-19 resources like massage chairs and meditation sessions aren’t currently running. While COVID-19 has changed some resources, there are a number of psychotherapy groups, support groups and wellness workshops that occur throughout the semester. To register for a group session, call the Counseling Center at 410-704-2512. Some group sessions may require a scheduled appointment with a therapist before registering for a group. In addition, the Counseling Center offers one-on-one therapy sessions, often called Solution-Focused Brief Counseling. This type of counseling is meant to help meet the needs of a student in a more concentrated, need-based setting, which includes same-day 30-minute sessions with a therapist. Meeting with a therapist can provide a specific plan for further mental care. Students should call the Counseling Center to schedule an appointment with a therapist. The Counseling Center also provides Substance Treatment Services for those struggling with the use of substances. Individual appointments and resources from Alcohol, Tobacco & Other Drugs Prevention Center (ATOD) are provided. The Counseling Center also holds an Alcohol and Drug Treatment group session where students must commit to substance abstinence, support one another in substance abstinence and find ways to recover without the use of non-chemical resources. Most of the services at the Counseling Center require no fee. 

In-Person Etiquette

Towson University’s Temporary COVID-19 Masking Protocols state that while on campus, students are required to wear a mask in every building except when outside and social distancing can be maintained, in one’s private spaces, or, if they qualify for exemption due to a documented medical reason.. Masks should cover both the mouth and nose, and be washed after every use. TU also implemented the Tigers Care QuickScan last fall, and will continue requiring students, faculty and staff to complete the daily scan through the spring semester. “Complete a self-screening daily. If you’re on campus this semester for any reason for more than four hours per week you need to submit a Tigers Care QuickScan form each and every day for the week,” TU posted to their website. Resident students must complete the QuickScan daily by 9 a.m.. “Faculty/staff who are not working routinely on campus will receive a weekly “opt-in” email to indicate if they will be coming to campus for any reason during that week,” the website continues. “Non-resident students likely to visit campus or with in-person learning components receive a daily email asking if they will be coming to campus for any reason that week.” Anyone on campus must also maintain social distancing, maintain hygiene (wash or sanitize their hands, sneeze or cough into their elbow), disinfect surfaces they touch and stay home and self-isolate when they feel ill. Anyone on campus must also follow signage posted, which may indicate elevator capacity, directions to walk in, classroom occupancies and more. More information can be found on Towson’s website. (J.F.)

How to Report Hate/Bias Incidents

The Office of Inclusion & Institutional Equity (OIIE) handles hate/bias claims that happen at TU. To file a hate/bias incident, go to the dedicated webpage or or call OIIE at 410-704-0203 to make a report. The University defines a hate crime as a “crime that is committed at least partially due to the offenders bias against a person or property’s perceived or actual identity or group.” They define an incident of bias as “not a crime, but still targets the victim’s perceived or actual identity. Incidents of bias may go against TU policy.” If you are unsure if what you experienced is a hate/bias incident you can reach out to OIIE via phone or email BiasResponse@towson.edu and they will help you determine what steps need to be taken. In order to keep TU a safe campus, all reported instances will be investigated. When reporting a hate/bias incident, you can expect to get a notification of receipt in two business days. After a report is made and received, an investigation will begin. If you do not receive a response from OIIE within 72 business hours, you can email or call.  When you meet with OIIE you are allowed to have somebody you trust with you for support accompany you. If you need additional support during the process you can reach out to the Counseling Center (410-704-2512), the Center for Student Diversity (410-704-2051), Department of Housing & Residence Life (410-704-2516), Office of Student Conduct & Civility Education (410-704-2057), or International Student & Scholar Office (410-704-2421). (S.S.)

Eye Care

With online learning and Zoom courses starting back up again, eyes can get very tired from staring at a screen all day long. It’s important to give yourself and your eyes a break from screen time. Your eyes will thank you. An important tip is to let your eyes recover. After spending hours on the computer, the last thing you want to do is spend all night on your phone watching Tik Toks. Listening to music can be a great way of unwinding without straining the eyes. Adjusting the brightness of your computer screen or phone screen is another way to help your eyes compensate while continuing to study. Taking frequent small breaks is a great way to break up your screen time and help with the strain or pressure in your eyes. Grabbing a snack, taking a walk, or even getting up to stretch are quick things to split up your time. Blue light glasses could also be a great investment when spending all your time at a screen. For those who aren’t familiar, blue light is a source that comes from many devices like laptops, phones and televisions containing blue light. Prolonged exposure to blue light can cause severe strain or damage to one’s eyes. Blue light glasses look like your average pair of glasses but they are designed to block the blue light from your eyes, ultimately eliminating the strain or damage. Investing in a pair of blue light glasses could be a great way to protect your eyes during a full semester online. 

Technical Difficulties

Tech Support

Towson University (TU) offers a number of online technical support resources to help students continue learning in a virtual setting. The bulk of the resources available can be found at the Office Of Technology Services (OTS) webpage. OTS provides technical information, training, resources and support to the students of TU. This includes Student Computing Services (SCS), which offers assistance with laptop or mobile device issues, with multimedia equipment and a support desk that helps with multimedia equipment loans. Due to the pandemic, some on-site services are unavailable or require an appointment due to current safety measures. SCS technical support and equipment checkout appointments are available by chat, email, phone, text and TechHelp during their regular hours of operation. For more complex issues, TU also allows students to make TechHelp online service requests, this will allow students to get one-on-one help from an expert. Students who experience issues with Blackboard can get assistance from Blackboard support through OTS’ Blackboard webpage.  For students that have questions about distance learning, TU has prepared a Student Technology Resources for Remote Learning webpage. Students can find answers to dozens of questions regarding distance learning such as recommended equipment, internet connection self-help tips and answers to dozens of other questions. OTS is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. For more information, students can contact 410-704-2041. The hours for SCS are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. SCS can be contacted at 410-704-5151 or scs@towson.edu. (J.C.)

Zoom Support 

TU announced changes to the default setting for using Zoom, which are focused on increasing security. The new settings, which went into place on Jan. 11, limits zoom meetings to those who are TU NetID authenticated users, which includes students, faculty and staff. Outside guests are still permitted to attend if the host of the meetings permits. As explained on the webpage, the University recommends faculty and staff schedule meetings and classes using TU’s Zoom account in order to ensure safety and allow for unlimited meeting times. For students attending Zoom lectures this upcoming semester, it’s also beneficial to have a distraction free environment. Try attending class in a room with no one else there, limiting at-home distractions and on-screen distractions. It’s helpful to keep microphones muted until you have the opportunity to speak. If an instructor requires cameras to be on, check your background surroundings and keep digital backgrounds off to ensure unwanted distractions. 

How to Access the Writing Center Virtually

TU’s Writing Center has been functioning virtually and will continue to do so until further notice. The Writing Center uses an online program specific to Towson for scheduling and hosting appointments. When students first arrive at the link, they are required to register for an account (if they don’t have one already). After creating an account, students are given an option to go to a weekly schedule that displays the available tutors and times that each tutor is available. White boxes show the times when a tutor is available. By clicking on that box, students are confirming their appointment time. The Writing Center appointments are typical 60 minutes long. Students also must factor in reading time for tutors while scheduling appointments. For papers with one to six pages, appointments are 60 minutes with no reading time. For papers with seven to 12 pages, appointments are 90 minutes; 60 minutes for the appointment and 30 minutes for reading time. For papers with 13 to 20 pages, appointments are 120 minutes; 60 minutes for the appointment and 60 minutes for reading time. Students can access their appointment by clicking on the yellow box in their account once their appointment is scheduled. During appointments, students are able to see their paper on a full screen while being able to see their tutor in a smaller box at the corner. This function allows the student and tutor to work on the paper while still being able to see and communicate with one another. 

Learning and Living On-Campus

Living on Campus: Spring 2021 Policies

While living on campus during the spring 2021 semester, students will be required to complete a daily Tigers Care QuickScan and comply with all testing requirements which include the possibility of being selected for sentinel testing. Unlike the fall 2020 semester, residential students will be permitted to have one guest in their rooms. That guest must also be a residential student and comply with all the TU COVID-19 guidelines. All guests must be registered with the building front desk and follow specific guidelines, like completing the daily Tigers Care QuickScan, being compliant with all TU COVID testing requirements and having a temperature of 100.3 or less. In addition, students must have completed all of their education requirements for TU and their TU OneCard must have their building sticker on it. The front desk will not accept any other form of ID. The website also explained that residential guest passes will only be valid for 24 hours and residents cannot have more than one guest in a 24 hour period. Residential guests are permitted to be in the residents room, but not in any common spaces. This revised policy will go into effect as of Feb. 8 and residents will not be allowed to host other residential guests during the first two weeks of classes. 

Roommate Etiquette

Living with a roommate during the COVID-19 pandemic can be difficult. It is important to be respectful of each other’s health and safety during this time. Make sure to not put each other at risk of getting the virus. If a friend invites you to hangout or you have to work in-person, make sure you are wearing your mask and social distancing so you do not risk bringing the virus home. It is extremely important to communicate with what each person is comfortable with. With so much uncertainty, your home space should be a place both you and your roommate feel protected, so boundaries and communication will help you figure out how to accomplish that. Since your roommate may be one of the only people you see regularly, make sure to check on them and talk out anything that is causing them stress. It is important to be there for each other, especially when face-to-face socialization is so limited right now. Respecting each other’s space is key for a healthy environment as well. Being together so much can cause conflict, but being honest about when you need to be alone or have quiet time is important. Remember, both you and your roommate are facing the same challenges the pandemic presents, but being honest, there for each other, and having good communication can make for a good roommate relationship. (S.N.)

Study Spaces 

Cook Library will be open for students to study and utilize at a reduced capacity. Floors two and three are open, while floors four and five are closed. However, the library’s 24-hour study room will be open with a limited capacity. For students looking to utilize the building, they must wear a mask at all times and refrain from eating, however, drinks are allowed. According to the webpage, when entering the library, students must swipe their OneCards, be aware of the building’s capacity levels, be counted by a staff member and grab a sanitizing wipe to disinfect their work stations. Aside from the 24-hour study spaces, during the semester, the library itself will be open M-F from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and from 12:00 P.M. to 6:00 P.M. on the weekends. In terms of other areas on campus, there are now outdoor tables and chairs throughout the campus, including in Chapman Quad, the Beach, West Village Commons, the Liberal Arts Building and between Carroll and Marshall Halls. 

Burdick Hall 

Burdick Hall is reopening Feb. 7  for the spring semester. While Burdick Hall is closed, Campus Recreation is still providing students with resources for health and exercise outside of the physical setting of Burdick. The program, known as “Beyond Burdick,” provides students with exercises for relaxation, tips for stretching and ways to motivate yourself to exercise. 

Dining on Campus 

The available dining locations have been expanded for the spring semester. Beginning on Jan. 20, dining options will be available at the Glen Dining Hall, Newell Den, Paws and West Village Commons. During the first two weeks of on-campus activity, Jan. 25 through Feb. 7, almost all dining locations will be open except those located in academic buildings. This includes Au Bon Pain, located in Hawkins Hall, LA Cafe located in the College of Liberal Arts, Enactus Cafe in Stephens Hall and 7720 Cafe, located in the Administration building.  On Feb. 8, almost all of the dining locations on campus will be open. The dining locations will include indoor seating at 25% capacity and have to-go containers and takeout options available as well. “Tables and chairs will be arranged for safer dining and should not be moved,” the email reads. “Diners must wear masks at all times except when eating.” 

The dining hours are as follows for Friday, Jan. 22 through Sunday, Jan. 24: 

Glen Dining Hall: 

  • Friday, Jan. 22: 7:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, Jan. 23: 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, Jan. 24: 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Newell Den: 

  • Friday, Jan. 22: 11:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, Jan. 23: Closed
  • Sunday, Jan. 24: Closed 

PAWS: 

  • Friday, Jan, 22: 11:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, Jan. 23: 12:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, Jan. 24: 12:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

West Village Commons: 

  • Einstein Bros. Bagels: 
    • Friday, Jan. 22: 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
    • Saturday, Jan. 23: 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m
    • Sunday, Jan. 24: 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
  • Outtakes:
    • Friday, Jan. 22: 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
    • Saturday, Jan. 23: 4:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
    • Sunday, Jan. 24: 4:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
  • Panda Express:
    • Friday, Jan. 22: 4:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
    • Saturday, Jan. 23: 4:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
    • Sunday, Jan. 4:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
  • Piadina: 
    • Friday, Jan. 22: 1:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
    • Saturday, Jan. 23: 1:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
    • Sunday, Jan. 24: 1:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
  • WVC Dining Hall:
    • Friday, Jan. 22: 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
    • Saturday, Jan. 23: 7:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. 
    • Sunday, Jan. 24: 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Getting Around Town

Parking/Transportation at TU

TU offers a variety of parking permits for students, faculty, staff and guests. Residential parking passes are offered for students who live on-campus, while commuter students can purchase Core or Overflow parking passes. All permits for the spring 2021/summer 2021 are offered at a prorated rate due to COVID-19. Commuter permits are still being offered at a 50% discount like they were last semester, while residential permits are still being discounted by 20%. During the spring Overflow permits will be permitted in CORE main campus parking areas. Students also have the opportunity to purchase weekly or monthly stadium permits. Monthly and weekly permits are not allowed to be refunded while residential parking permits can be refunded up until March 2021.  For more information on parking rates and rules, visit Parking and Transportation Services website. If students do not have a car on-campus, TU provides an extensive shuttle service with multiple routes to get students from place to place around TU’s campus and community. TU’s shuttle service will have four different routes this spring: the Gold Route, Goucher-Loch Raven, Kennilworth-Fairmount Ave. and Lake-Walker. The Gold Route functions from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, Goucher-Loch Raven and Lake-Walker function from 7:10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m, Monday through Friday. Lastly, Kennilworth-Fairmount Ave., functions from 7:20 a.m. to 10:30 p.m, Monday through Friday. Masks must be worn on the shuttles and students must fill out the Tigers Care QuickScan must be completed on a daily basis. Students can download the TU Tiger Ride app for real time tracking of busses on each route.

What’s Up in Uptown?

There are a number of  places in  Uptown that are still open for students to safely enjoy. There are many options for restaurants, shopping and convenience to visit this semester. Barley’s Backyard, which opened in 2020, is open for dine-in and takeout. Students can go here for dinner or for a themed night like trivia, karaoke and holiday celebrations. Other great restaurant options include On The Border, Charles Village Pub and Red Pepper Bistro, which are all open for dine-in and takeout. Eating from local restaurants will also give small-businesses much needed support. Uptown has gotten a bit of a makeover worth checking out since the pandemic first started. The entrances to Pho Dat Thanh and what used to be Torrent but is now The Recker are updated, and a new mural is featured on Towson Branch Baltimore County Public Library (BCPL). The Towson Cinemark is open with new restrictions such as required face masks and routine cleaning every 30 minutes to highly touched areas and surfaces to make sure customers are safe.  Movies will be played at different times to limit the amount of people in the building at once. The Towson Town Center is also open, but customers are required to wear face masks, and a safe capacity at each store is maintained. Other places for shopping like Urban Outfitters are still open in Uptown as well. There is still a lot to do in Towson despite the pandemic, but remember not to forget a face mask! (S.N.)

More information can be found on Towson University’s website.

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