Students have been away from campus Dalton State College since mid-March when classes went completely online because of the new coronavirus (COVID-19).
The campus reopened to the public this week, and in-person classes for fall semester begin Monday.
It has taken quite a bit of planning to get to this point, with many people working to make sure that the return is as safe as possible for students and staff.
As director of Dalton State College's Ken White Student Health Center, Cheryl Owens has played a key role in Dalton State's efforts to prepare for the return of students.
"Cheryl has worked tirelessly for the last several months on our return to campus plans and safety protocols," said Jodi S. Johnson, Dalton State's vice president for student affairs and enrollment management. "We've only had a student health center for a few years, and I'm at a loss as to how we would have navigated the pandemic without the assistance of the health center staff. Cheryl is our contact both with the regional Department of Public Health and at the state level. She communicates updates on a daily basis in an effort to provide us with the most current information. She has diligently explored testing options for our students and has tirelessly sourced PPE (personal protective equipment. "While not in the scope of her job responsibilities, she has also been critical in the development of employee protocols and plans. I feel much safer and better prepared for the opening of the fall semester at Dalton State thanks to Cheryl Owens."
The college is promoting what it calls the four pillars of good health: frequent and thorough hand washing; wearing a face covering (required for most people by the University System of Georgia inside buildings); social distancing; and staying home if you have a fever or other symptoms.
Dalton State President Margaret Venable says Owens has played a vital role in the school's efforts to prepare for the return of students.
"We had to quickly pivot to re-think how we operate safely on campus with this virus an ongoing threat," she said. "She has spent countless hours studying the advice of healthcare and scientific experts, researching best practices for engaging safely and preparing us to have employees on campus serving students in the classrooms and in our offices across campus. I don’t know how we would have managed without her knowledge, her patience, her wisdom and her diligence."
For her efforts to make sure that students and staff return to campus in as safe an environment as possible, the Daily Citizen-News names Cheryl Owens Citizen of the Week.