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Belmont University | Belief in Something Greater
The sun rising over Acklen Ave between the Baskin Center and the Ayers Center

July 30, 2020 Update

Update from Dr. Fisher Addressing COVID-19 Concerns

 

Dear Students and Families,

I hope this finds you doing well. Let me say right up front that this message does not communicate any new decisions or changes to our plan. Rather, my purpose in writing you is to acknowledge some realities that we are all facing and attempt to address any resulting concerns or anxieties being experienced by you in this moment.

Today we sit just 16 days away from welcoming our first group of residential students for move-in, and just 21 days from the first day of classes. As you have likely seen in the news, cases of COVID-19 in Tennessee are not moving in a positive direction. In our city, daily total reported cases, new cases per 100k residents and other key metrics are not where we hoped they would be at this point. We watch these figures very closely and are in close contact with local and state health officials as we continue to look ahead to the start of our fall term, because the progress of this virus essentially dictates so much of what we can and cannot safely do. 

This is not just the reality in Tennessee or at Belmont. Across the country universities are having to react to the progress of COVID-19 in their areas. Some have moved 100% online for the fall (or longer); some have made significant changes to originally-announced plans; and most others – if they are being honest – wait and watch in limbo as things they cannot control evolve before their eyes.

I’ll be honest: this is not easy.

I know it’s not easy for you, either. I hear regularly from students and families who are 100% ready to come to campus but are concerned that opportunity will be taken away from them. I hear just as regularly from those who are debating what to do and are fearful that they will be left to make a tough decision. I empathize with both situations, and our goal at Belmont is to provide options for both.

For those students who are ready to return, we still plan to welcome you under a new set of operating practices designed to help minimize the spread of COVID-19 among our students, faculty and staff. By now you should be familiar with those via our Return to Campus Plan. Can we guarantee that no one will get this virus? Of course not. But we have plans in place, and caring people ready to execute them, to do the best job we can to keep everyone as safe and healthy as possible.

For those who are on the fence, I want to remind you that the opportunity to be a Belmont student this fall from home or other off-campus location is very real. The HyFlex model will allow for the vast majority of classes to feature the same instruction and educational content, delivered by the same esteemed Belmont professors, at the same time to students participating remotely and in the classroom. Our professors are ready for this and are committed to making this a good experience for all our students. For any families worrying that the deadline has passed to have their housing deposit refunded – don’t. We will absolutely refund that amount as long as you notify Residence Life before move-in. 

The next week is critical for all of us as we approach the start of the Fall 2020 semester. We will be monitoring local data, as well as any health recommendation updates, extremely closely to ensure our next steps are sound. If we determine there is a need to pivot and alter our plans, we will be in touch with you no later than one week from today.

Until then, I want to thank you – our students and families – for being patient this summer as we carefully and thoughtfully considered all our options. I ask that you remain flexible this fall and be ready to follow our lead as we make informed decisions about how to deliver on our educational mission in the safest way possible.

Sincerely,

Bob Fisher