Belmont announces detailed plans for fall return to campus
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Belmont announces detailed plans for fall return to campus

Students will return to a fall semester at Belmont University in which classes will be fully online, fully in-person or a hybrid format that blends both, and all classes will have staggered start times.

University President Dr. Bob Fisher emailed students Tuesday afternoon with the plan and included a link to a page on the school’s website that details the specifics of returning to campus this fall.

“We have been working diligently toward the goal of bringing all of us safely back to campus for the fall 2020 semester,” says the plan.

The email outlines strategies for four aspects of the fall semester, return to work, return to learning, return to campus life and staying healthy together, however, the specifics of the plan will be released later this summer.

The Return to Campus Plan website covers changes such as 

  • Physically distancing in classrooms 
  • Eliminating convocation hour at 10 a.m. All convos will be online.
  • No university-sponsored travel for students or faculty. 
  • Safety precautions for dining services 

Using the HyFlex plan, classes will operate either entirely fully online, fully in-person or using a hybrid format involving both options.

  • Fully online for classes that do not need specialized equipment or hands-on instruction. 
  • Hybrid format, partially online and partially in person. Students will be divided into groups by instructor and rotate days in which they can be physically in class. 
  • Fully in-person classes for which hands-on activity is necessary.

“These strategies will require the commitment and contributions of every member of the Belmont community as together we seek to ensure Belmont is one of the safest “small towns” in the country,” the statement said.

Provost Dr. Thomas Burns and Dr. Paula Gill, the Vice President of Institutional Effectiveness and Interim Dean of Students, lead the Return to Learning Task Force. 

As the administration previously announced, the fall semester is scheduled to operate under a shortened schedule, starting on August 19 with final exams being completed by November 20. There will be class held on Labor Day and there will be no fall break. 

More information will be released to students on how their individual classes will operate under this system. However, they will not need to re-register for classes.

Another notable adjustment is a staggered start time for all classes, which, according to the return plan, “will also allow 30 minutes between each class to reduce building/hallway traffic.”

Faculty and deans continue to look into the details of allowing hands-on or in-person formats for classes that use specialized equipment. 

In the outline for returning to work, the plan outlines similar guidelines for faculty as it does for students – expectations to avoid large gatherings, socially distance when possible and be wary of respiratory symptoms.

Beyond its regulations for inside the classroom and among faculty members, the plan also details directives for move-in, dining procedures, events and support via services such as university ministries and counseling services.

“While it is our hope to maintain our HyFlex learning model – including on-campus classes – for as long as possible in the Fall 2020 term, the University will be monitoring and assessing the state of the pandemic on a regular basis.”

Belmont also outlines a plan if local, state or federal guidelines require the semester to go fully online. This plan includes a temporary three to five day “pause” to classes to allow on-campus students to move out of residence halls and travel home, followed by resumption of classes as soon as possible. In such a scenario, more changes to the calendar could be made to accommodate lost time.

More information will be released throughout the summer covering formats for specific classes, start times for specific classes and process for schedule modifications.

Tuesday’s announcement also said that housing information will be released July 2.

This article written by Madison Bowen and Evan Dorian.

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