Furman University announced it will begin in-person instruction for the fall semester on Aug. 18, one week sooner than previously scheduled.
The university will also forego its fall break on Oct. 19-20 to allow students to leave campus for Thanksgiving after the last day of classes on Nov. 20. Furman will also administer final exams remotely Dec. 2-9. In addition, the college plans to hold commencement and related events for spring and summer 2020 graduates on Oct. 31.
“We are excited about having our students, faculty and staff back on campus, and we especially look forward to celebrating our graduates whose ceremony was postponed in May,” Furman president Elizabeth Davis said. “Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, we have been focused on the health and safety of our campus community. Returning to campus, while taking precautions to keep us safe, is a significant step toward some normalcy in our daily lives – one we take optimistically but with a healthy dose of caution.”
Since March, a team of representatives from across Furman’s campus have worked to create a plan to resume in-person instruction in the fall with measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19. These actions include:
- Requiring everyone on campus to wear a mask in designated areas and where social distancing is not possible. The university will supply masks for each student, faculty and staff member.
- Bringing employees back to campus under their supervisor’s direction in a four-phase plan over the next three months.
- Reconfiguring classrooms and taking other steps to help promote a healthy and safe learning environment.
- Modifying dining and housing operations to meet health and safety protocols.
- Requesting that students, staff and faculty monitor their health daily, report any COVID-19 symptoms and self-quarantine if they are ill.
- Creating quarantine and isolation plans.
- Limiting public access to campus.
The university will train faculty and staff on health and safety precautions before they return to work, and students will be required to sign The Paladin Promise, a pledge to acknowledge the shared responsibility for the health of Furman’s whole community, including students, faculty, staff and those in the Greenville community. Furman is also reviewing guidance from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American College Health Association and others as it makes plans for the fall term.
“It’s important to realize that we are still in a pandemic,” said Davis. “While there are many things we know we can do to help protect our campus community, the medical and scientific communities are still trying to understand the full implications of COVID-19. Likewise, there are details we are continuing to work through, and our plans will remain dynamic, with safety and well-being being a priority.”
The university is developing contingency plans should federal or state guidelines related to the pandemic change. In addition, some fall semester events may be postponed or reorganized to allow for social distancing and other public health measures.