Abilene universities return to campus with more COVID-19 guidelines in place

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ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Students at Abilene Christian University and Hardin-Simmons University are back in the classroom Tuesday for the first time since Thanksgiving.

McMurry University doesn’t start for another week, but soon enough students there will be shuffling back to campus, ready for a new semester.

Cameron Foster, though, almost wasn’t able to come back.

“I actually ended up testing positive,” said the McMurry University student. “[It] surprised me a lot.”

Foster tested positive for coronavirus last week, something he wouldn’t have known had it not been for a new university protocol.

“We’re testing all our students and employees,” said McMurry University President Dr. Sandra Harper.

McMurry University is the only college campus in Abilene requiring students be tested.

“They set out a specific parking lot section for you to drive up, and you would have a self administer kit, and then they would take the test and tell you if you tested positive or negative,” said Foster.

“It gives us some peace of mind that we’re starting with a clean slate,” said Dr. Harper.

Across town over at Abilene Christian University, students are already walking the grounds, but Tuesday they were greeted with some new restrictions.

“There’s a great sense of confidence that comes with just the experience,” said ACU President Phil Schubert.

Schubert says his team learned a lot from last semester.

“Certainly everything did not work exactly the way we wanted it to,” said Schubert.

This semester they are tightening up on restrictions. There will be no intramural sports, guests in resident halls, or events with more than 25 people.

In addition to those measures, there will also be social distancing, grab-and-go food options, and testing for athletes.

“We recognize that everyone in the community has responsibility to help keep us safe,” said Schubert.

It may seem like a lot, but for students like Foster, it could have been the choice between the unknown and keeping people safe.

“I would have potentially exposed more people,” said Foster.

Hardin-Simmons University says they will be following similar guidelines that were outlined by the CDC last semester.

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