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Belmont University | Belief in Something Greater
An aerial photo of Patton Hall, McWhorter Hall and the Baskin Center in the foreground, with the city of Nashville in the background

May 12, 2020 Planning for Fall 2020

Students, Faculty and Staff,

With the most unusual spring semester in Belmont’s history behind us, remote Maymester courses in full swing, and registration for our virtual summer sessions almost completed, all eyes turn to the fall. 

While the scheduled start of the fall semester is still 100 days away, I know everyone wants to know the answer now to the question “Is the campus going to be open for residential living and in-classroom learning as currently scheduled?”  The short answer is yes, we have every intention and expectation that we will be open for classes as scheduled on August 19th.  The longer answer is, well, much longer and contains many conditions.  So please, don’t stop reading here—what follows is vitally important and as I always liked to say to students when I was teaching and wanted to make sure I had their attention, “This is going to be on the test!”

The most overwhelming condition is, and always will be, if we can do this in a way that keeps you safe and well and avoids any unnecessary risk.  We will certainly do everything we can to keep everyone as safe as possible but, if at any point conditions change dramatically for the worse, we will not hesitate to change our course. 

Please know that we do not take this decision lightly.  Like all of you, we have been struggling to understand the uncontrollable, unpredictable, and serious nature of this virus.  Belmont has had six task teams intensively working on protecting the health and safety of our community from the Covid -19 virus since the beginning of February.  Over time the focus of these teams has shifted and they continue to work diligently to learn, innovate, and design solutions to the multitude of factors that are important to this decision to re-open campus activities. Our leadership has sought the consultation of top medical officials from some of the world’s leading health care companies and research hospitals.  We have been agonizingly thoughtful about what it will take for us to return to on-campus living and learning. 

Including faculty, staff, and students, Belmont is a 10,000 person community.  For us to be successful in our return we will have to do some things very differently to minimize the risk to ourselves and each other.  Our teams are in the process of developing on-campus operating practices that we will all have to incorporate into our lives for the good of the community.  Some of those changes will make sense to you, some you may question and not understand the “why” behind the requirement.  But we will insist that you follow those practices for the good of all.  

We know that we will not be able to “enforce” most of the behavioral changes that we’re requiring so we’re asking that you provide the leadership to implement those changes.  Every student, faculty, and staff member will have to accept the responsibility for their health and the health of everyone around them.  I always challenge our students to “look at the person sitting to your left and then look to the person to your right—you are responsible for taking care of those two people.” 

We will have to care for one another at an extreme level that even Belmont has never experienced.  We will have to put others before ourselves.  We will have to listen and respond positively to those in leadership.  It will take the most cooperative attitude we can muster for us to pull this off, but I know we can do it. After all, we are Belmont!

Please stay well and we will be back in touch soon with more details regarding our fall plans.

Bob Fisher