January 8, 2021

Spring semester opening updates for employees

Dear Faculty and Staff,

In just over a week, we will welcome students in person and virtually for the spring semester. Many of you have been working diligently on these preparations and we thank you for your commitment to a safe and healthy experience for all.

As noted in Sunday’s email, the COVID Response Steering Committee and the Public Health and Safety Advisory Group continue to actively assess our community health metrics. These metrics continue to be of concern due to an exponential increase in coronavirus cases.

While we hoped we could allow for more activities and in-person engagement for students, faculty and staff at the start of the semester, we are expanding our precautions on campus for at least the first week of the term.

Furman remains committed to offering an in-person experience for our students and it’s our plan to open as scheduled, but in a low-to-no-contact phase until at least January 25. This means that students must keep their interactions limited to roommates/suitemates/apartment-mates. Meals will be grab-and-go from the dining hall and classes and labs will be fully remote. Library services will be available through curbside pick-up only and the PAC will be closed. Student organizations will meet virtually. Where possible, student workers should work remotely. Barnes and Noble and P2X will be open and accessible to students.

Commuter students should not come to campus until January 25.

In addition, all residential and commuter students will be tested again a few days after arriving to assess campus infection rates. The plan is to resume in-person classes on January 25, and to potentially lessen the low-to-no contact restrictions if conditions improve.

We are also suspending all Furman-sponsored off-campus, in-person internships and other engaged learning experiences until further notice. Students who had already scheduled these experiences (e.g., through academic departments, the internship office, or IACH) will receive a follow-up communication with more information.

Please see this note that was sent to all students and their families today as it describes these adjustments in more detail.

Working remotely

We are asking that all Furman employees who are able to work from home continue to do so until their supervisor notifies them to return to work, in an effort to minimize the potential spread of the virus. We are doing this in the interest of the health and safety of the remote employees as well as of the employees who must work on campus. The fewer people on campus, the less chance of spreading infection.

Engaging with students and student workers

Employees should meet with students virtually during the first week of the term. Once in-person classes resume, employees can meet with students in person while practicing all Paladin Promise safety measures, but are still encouraged to meet virtually whenever possible. Student workers should work remotely if possible. 

Employee access to buildings and the PAC

The PAC will be closed to students and employees during the first week. Pending the campus test results, the PAC will reopen on January 25 to students only. If possible, later in the semester we will open the PAC to employees on a limited basis. Library services will be available through curbside pick-up only.

COVID-19 testing for employees

We will require employees working on campus to be tested before in-person classes begin on January 25. More details will follow next week.

COVID-19 vaccinations

South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) has announced that university employees may be eligible for vaccinations during Phase 1B. More information will be provided as the semester progresses about access to COVID-19 vaccinations. Students and employees who receive the vaccine are still expected to abide by the Paladin Promise.

Town hall

There will be a virtual town hall meeting for all employees on Thursday, Jan. 14 at 10 a.m. Participation will be limited to 500. You may register by clicking here. After registering, the employee will receive an email notification with the link to the town hall meeting. The only information currently being collected when someone registers is first and last name and e-mail address. If someone needs a specific accommodation, please contact kristen.davis@furman.edu. Questions may be submitted prior to the town hall to sharen.beaulieu@furman.edu. The webinar will be recorded and shared on the Furman Focused website.

Daily health screening

Employees are expected to complete a health screening using this direct link each day. This should be completed whether employees are working remotely or working on campus. Employees may also use the LiveSafe app or access the screening through MyFurman or Workday. Employees who do not have smartphones, computers or access to the internet will be required to submit a document to Human Resources that provides responses to the same questions. This document is available in Human Resources.

Furman Focused

We have updated quite a bit of information on the Furman Focused website since the fall semester, and want to draw your attention to a few areas:

More information on the spring semester, including guidelines for health and safety and details about academics, classrooms and labs, is available on the Furman Focused website, which we will continue to update throughout the semester. Please check this site and your email regularly for the latest information.

You showed us this past fall that we can have a successful semester, and we will all need to be more vigilant than ever. As always, thank you for your continued flexibility and adaptability as we collectively pursue the high-level learning experience for our students.

Be well.

Sincerely,

Ken Peterson, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost
Connie Carson, Vice President for Student Life

Co-Chairs, COVID Response Steering Committee