January 8, 2021

Required negative COVID test, spring opening instructions

Dear Students,

We hope you had a safe, healthy and happy holiday season. Faculty and staff are diligently preparing to welcome new and returning students to campus. As promised, we are writing to provide you with details and updates on the spring semester.

Back in the fall, we were hopeful that the landscape would have improved enough to allow for more activities and in-person engagement at the start of the semester. Unfortunately, as we explained in our last communication, Greenville’s weekly disease measures continue to be of concern due to an exponential increase in coronavirus cases. For example, the disease prevalence in Greenville is 7x higher now than it was when students came to campus in August.

This increase has taxed our local health systems, potentially affecting normal levels of access to acute health care off campus.  As such, we encourage you to consult with your family to ensure you have plans in place for health care and for quarantine if that becomes necessary. Access to the Earle Student Health Center will continue to be available to students. Furman remains committed to offering an in-person experience and it’s our plan to open as scheduled.

We acknowledge the challenging circumstances in our local community and are expanding our precautions on campus for at least the first week of the term. In addition to students providing a negative COVID-19 test prior to arriving to campus, we will operate 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. Employees working on campus will also be tested. The plan is to resume in-person classes on January 25, and to potentially lessen the low-to-no-contact restrictions if conditions improve.

At the same time, we cannot overstate the risk of students leaving campus to go into the Greenville community while the disease prevalence is so high, even when doing so in small groups. Consequently, 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.

We know that you will have many questions, so please take the time to carefully read the remainder of this email and provided web links. 

Town halls

We will hold two town halls (each limited to 500 participants), which will be recorded and posted to the Furman Focused website for those unable to participate.

  • New residential students (including students enrolled for the first time) and their families – Tuesday, January 12, at 6 p.m. EST.To register, click here.
  • Returning students and their families – Wednesday, January 13, at 6 p.m. EST. To register, click here.

Negative COVID-19 test required pre-arrival for residential students

Residential students must obtain a negative nucleic amplification-based molecular diagnostic test for SARS-CoV-2 (RT-PCR or NAAT) in order to access campus. This test should be obtained between January 10-15. Rapid antigen test results will not be accepted. Documentation of the negative test result must be sent to furmanstudenthealth@prismahealth.org. Commuters no longer need to submit a negative test result prior to arrival, but will be tested during the first week of the semester along with the residential students.

If you receive your test results after January 15, but before you leave home to return to campus, please also bring a hard copy of your test results with you. You will be required to present that document before returning to campus housing.

Students who have tested positive for COVID-19 using a SARS-Cov-2 PCR test fewer than 90 days prior to their return date, and who are not currently in isolation, may submit those results to the Earle Student Health Center in lieu of mandatory testing.

If you test positive prior to coming to campus, you must stay home and contact the Earle Student Health Center. Further guidance on your return to campus will be provided by them.

For more information about Furman’s testing protocols, including links to mail-in testing programs, click here.

Housing move-in

Students with any questions about housing move-in should contact HousingandResidenceLife@furman.edu.

Remote learners

The purpose of providing a remote-learning option is to allow students who have concerns about their health and safety a way to continue their academic coursework and other academic-related experiences at their homes. Consequently, students who choose the remote-learning option should not be on campus for any reason during the spring semester. Academic buildings, the PAC, dining facilities, athletic facilities, residence halls, the Trone Student Center, in-person library services, and in-person club and organization activities will not be accessible to remote-only students. These students’ Furman ID cards will be deactivated for the spring semester, removing access to Furman facilities. All support services (e.g., SOAR, Counseling and Advising) will be virtually available to remote learners.

COVID-19 vaccinations

More information will be made available as the semester progresses about access to COVID-19 vaccinations. In the meantime, students and employees who receive the vaccine are still expected to abide by the Paladin Promise and participate in surveillance testing. The Earle Student Health Center will determine on a case-by-case basis whether a vaccinated student must quarantine as a close contact.

The Paladin Promise – returning students

Prior to arriving to campus, all residential and commuter students who signed the Paladin Promise for the fall semester are required to recommit to and sign the Paladin Promise again for the spring semester.

The Paladin Promise – new residential students

Prior to arriving to campus, all new admits and transfers, students returning from a leave of absence, and fall remote learners coming to campus for the spring semester are required to watch the return to campus video, commit to and sign the Paladin Promise, and sign their housing agreement and risk and release form.

Remote learning options

Students may still request to change their status from living on campus or commuting to being a remote learner, and must submit this request to HousingandResidenceLife@furman.edu no later than January 14.

If students wish to delay their return to campus and temporarily take classes remotely, they should notify the Academic Deans office (academic.deans@furman.edu)Room and board refunds will only be provided to students choosing remote learning for the entire semester.

Our campus community showed us this past fall that we can have a successful semester. Our students in particular did an amazing job and set an example on how to live and learn during a pandemic. We will all need to be more vigilant than ever. As the health metrics in Greenville improve, and we are confident that the campus conditions are stable, we will work toward that more in-person and vibrant campus experience that we are all ready to have.

If you have questions not answered in this email or on the Furman Focused website, you may email them to furman.focused@furman.edu.

We look forward to seeing many of you in the coming weeks.

Be well, and safe travels!

Sincerely,

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

Co-Chairs, COVID Response Steering Committee