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Belmont University | Belief in Something Greater
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March 16, 2020 Coronavirus Update

Subject: Belmont Update

Students, Faculty and Staff,

Please let me first encourage you to read this message carefully in its entirety.  As you know, the issues we are facing are both cascading and quickly-changing. You being fully aware of our current plans will be helpful to you, even if those plans end up having to be changed.

It has been less than a week since we first communicated with you of Belmont’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis. The sudden and unexpected changes to our spring semester resulting from this crisis have created unwanted challenges for everyone, and we appreciate your understanding and patience as we work through these challenges together. Please know that through it all, the safety and wellbeing of our students is our top priority – as always.

Current Adjustments to Spring Schedule

It is because of safety and wellness concerns – and a sense of duty to help contribute to the management this public health crisis – that we made some difficult and unprecedented decisions over the past seven days. First, to extend spring break for one week so we can prepare for the continuation of our students’ education remotely for the following two weeks. Second, to ask our faculty to quickly prepare plans to deliver that remote learning as innovatively and collaboratively as possible, so as to maintain the excellence expected of our University. Third, to ask residential students to temporarily move out of residence halls during this time and remain on campus only if absolutely necessary. Lastly, to cancel Easter Break to help make up for lost time in the classroom. Universities across the country have unveiled similar plans, and variations are both more and less extreme. We stand by this as what we believe is right for Belmont.

Regarding Refunds

Throughout this period of dynamic and changing circumstances, our senior leadership team has been evaluating and re-evaluating all of Belmont’s response strategies and decisions. One thing we know is that decisions made in the midst of a storm are not always, in hindsight, the right or perfect decisions.

Fortunately we have had an opportunity to reconsider the financial implications of this crisis for our students.  As we have done so, it has become clear that we need to offer a prorated refund to residential students for room and board losses. For graduating seniors, this will mean a prorated cash refund, and for other residential undergraduate students, the option of a prorated cash refund or prorated credit that will be applied to future semesters.  We are not in a position to give exact numbers at this point and won’t be in that position until it is clear when campus will reopen to students, but we pledge to find a solution that is fair to all, and to let you know details as soon as we are able.

Future Decisions

While some clear and predictable trends are forming regarding the spread of COVID-19 across the country and in our hometown, much still remains unclear. We are choosing to not act rashly, and ask that everyone please remain as flexible as possible with travel and other planning as we monitor developments for a while longer.

Our hope is that the evolution of this rapidly-changing situation will allow our revised spring schedule to stand. Such an outcome will help limit further disruption to our students as they work to finish the spring term, especially for our seniors as they continue the march to graduation.  We ask your continued patience and trust as we determine the best path forward.

Thank You

I want to thank our faculty and staff for working tirelessly on our response strategies, and for working one-on-one with hundreds of students and families to manage changes and overcome challenges. I also want to thank our students and families for the grace displayed throughout this process. Much of the response and feedback we are receiving is positive and supportive.

Finally, I would again remind you that the safety and wellbeing of our students is the driver of all our decisions.

I sincerely hope I will be able to see all our students back in their classes on April 6th as currently planned.  Should circumstances require a shift in that plan we will be back in touch.  For more information, ongoing updates and answers to many other questions, please consult our Coronavirus website. And in the meantime, please take good care of yourself and those around you.

Sincerely,

Bob Fisher