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Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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Group Gatherings

As the campus reopens, we must balance the university's four enduring priorities with the need to satisfy aspects of our university mission through group activities and events. Here's what you need to know about planning a group gathering. We'll continue to update this information as changes occur.

Planning a Group Gathering

If you are planning a group gathering, you must submit your plan for approval first by using the event proposal form. There will be a risk at any event, so event organizers should be mindful of the risk and consider all factors before planning an event. If there is substantial risk, planners should conduct the event virtually or in a hybrid of in-person and virtual means. 

All activities must follow guidance from the sponsoring unit as well as be in compliance with university policies and procedures, university risk mitigation guidance and those procedures established for the activity or required by any other governmental law or code. If any sponsoring unit does not follow this guidance, approval may be rescinded and future activities may be prohibited.

Any approval, including activities approved at the college/division level, is contingent on the campus alert level at the time of the activity. Some activities may be restricted if the campus is at alert level 2. All activities will be cancelled if the campus is at alert level 3. Activities may also be affected if the reserved space becomes subject to a local-level alert change.

Horseshoe Catering has the exclusive right to provide catering services in non-athletic venues on campus. Off-campus caterers will be suspended until further notice. Aramark is our sole catering provider for the university until it is determined that it is safe to once again use outside food service providers. 

 

Campus Event Approval Process

The Systems Operations and Campus Return (SOCR) Committee’s Systems Operations Subcommittee will review requests for events and activities that normally involve either campus visitors or off-campus locations. The review process for requests for campus visitors and guests will consider the following parameters, as well as the current campus COVID-19 alert level:

  • Justification as mission-critical
  • Assurance of reasonable measures to protect the health and safety of all participants.
  • Anticipated number of visitors/participants and their vulnerability
  • Complexity of event, including location, duration and frequency

Approval may be conditional on restricting the number of participants, limiting the activity to campus participants or to maintaining or improving the campus alert level.

College/Division Approval

The dean/vice president can approve activities with fewer than 10 participants that can follow the unit’s existing risk mitigation protocols. In general, bringing research participants to campus should be considered at this level.

Student Organization Activities

All events that are hosted in student union space go through a central registration process. Because the Division of Student Affairs and Academic Success has developed a strong protocol for managing these activities, these normal procedures are sufficient approval. For student organizations that operate within the host academic units, deans should encourage students to utilize student union spaces to the degree possible. 

 

Systems Operations Approval

The result of this review can be declination, request for additional information, conditional approval, approval for single or recurring event as requested, approval for single event with authorization for unit approval of similar future events, or escalation to the Office of the President for final approval.

Lee Pearson, a public health representative on the Systems Operations subcommittee, is the primary point of contact for questions related to applying for campus visitors and off-campus activities. He can be reached at jlpears@mailbox.sc.edu or 803-777-5030.

While committee review is not required for smaller events designated for college/division approval, we encourage the sponsoring unit to consider the guidance and application questions. In addition, the unit can ask the committee for an initial review that allows for subsequent unit approval. 

 

Vendors and contractors, activities of Gamecock Athletics, and activities of the Board of Trustees events (such as commencement) are exempt from this approval process.

 

Guidance for Group Gatherings

  1. The sponsoring unit must submit the event proposal form at least two weeks before the scheduled event date; additional time may be needed, depending on subsequent planning steps. Especially for larger, more complex events, the sponsoring unit should start the process earlier. 
  2. SOCR approval must be granted before receiving approval from other campus units, including space reservations through the 25Live system, campus catering and approval to serve alcohol at the event.
  3. The sponsoring unit should complete SOCR approval prior to finalizing any external contractual commitments.
  4. The sponsoring unit must identify the event venue, including campus or off-campus location and indoor or outdoor programming. The unit should indicate whether the activity could be transitioned to a virtual environment if needed.
  5. The sponsoring unit must include a general description of participants and their role in the event. The information allows assessment of potential risk to the visitors and to the campus participants interacting with them. Understanding their role contributes to understanding the mission-critical justification.
  6. At minimum, the sponsoring unit is expected to comply with campus and local-level risk mitigation procedures, including, but not limited to, screening prior to or at arrival, physical distancing, use of face coverings, hand hygiene and general sanitation standards.
    1. The sponsoring unit must describe any particular risk mitigation procedures implemented for the activity. These may include self-screening or screening upon arrival.
    2. If applicable, this should include any internal (e.g., UofSC COVID-19 Event Planning Guidelines, UofSC Dining Guidelines, and UofSC Catering Guidelines [pdf]) or external standards (e.g., CDC, SC DHEC, AccelerateSC, Palmetto Priority) you are following.
    3. A separate protocol document can be submitted instead of providing direct answer to this specific question.
    4. The sponsoring unit is responsible for any costs related to enhanced cleaning/disinfection of the space at the end of the event.
  7. The sponsoring unit must require RSVPs/registrations to the activity to control number of participants and to allow for follow-up contact tracing if needed.
  8. If the proposed activity is modified after initial approval, the application must be updated if the modification changes any of the initial responses (e.g., location or number of participants). If the event is cancelled, the cancellation should be reported as an update.

 


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