June 9, 2020

Fall calendar, commencement date announced

Fall calendar, commencement date announced

Dear Campus Community,

I am pleased to announce that Furman will return for the fall semester with in-person instruction beginning a week earlier on Aug. 18, and ending at the Thanksgiving break, with final exams being conducted remotely. We plan to hold Commencement and related events for our spring and summer 2020 graduates on Oct. 31.

I am excited about having our students, faculty and staff back on campus and especially look forward to celebrating our May and August graduates, whose ceremonies were postponed because of the coronavirus.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, we have been focused on the health and safety of our campus community and on fulfilling our mission of providing a transformative education and advancing our students’ academic goals. 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.

I am extremely grateful to our faculty and staff who are planning for a safe return this fall, and for the conscientious and thoughtful way they went about the incredibly hard work of designing the semester. A team of representatives from across campus has worked since March to create a comprehensive plan for returning, including a number of measures the campus will take to reduce the risk of COVID-19.

Employees will return to work in gradual phases, as directed by their supervisors, over the next three months. Before returning, the university will provide training for faculty and staff on health and safety precautions, and students will be required to sign a pledge acknowledging that “each of us has a shared responsibility for the health of our whole community, including students, faculty, staff, and the Greenville community.”

Among the safety measures that will be implemented, the university is planning to:

  • Supply masks for students, faculty and staff, and require everyone on campus to wear masks in designated areas and where social distancing is not possible.
  • Reconfigure classrooms and take other steps to promote a healthy and safe learning environment.
  • Modify dining and housing operations to meet health and safety protocols and to prioritize the student experience.
  • Ask students, faculty and staff to monitor their health daily and to report any symptoms of COVID-19 and to self-quarantine if they are ill.
  • Create plans for quarantine and isolation, should that become necessary.
  • Continue to limit public access to campus.

The university is continuing to develop plans regarding testing and contact tracing in consultation with Prisma Health, which also operates the Earle Student Health Center on campus and an off-campus clinic for employees. Furman is regularly reviewing the guidance of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American College Health Association in developing health and safety protocols and contingency plans.

It’s important to realize that we are still in a pandemic. 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 wellbeing being a priority.

Please see the updated calendar, our news story, and the COVID-19 website for more information about the fall semester and our plans for returning.

Warmly,

Elizabeth Davis
President