FMU will reopen Aug. 17; first three weeks will be online
Francis Marion University will reopen for the fall 2020 semester on Aug. 17 with three weeks of online classes for all students before moving to a mixture of traditional, online and blended classes Sept. 8.
FMU announced its fall schedule following months of planning and discussion by the university’s senior staff.
The executive committee of FMU’s Board of Trustees reviewed and approved the plan, which includes dozens of new safety procedures and protocols when students return to campus. They include the requirement to wear masks or face coverings in class and most other environments, reduced occupancies in classrooms and residence halls, the establishment of a new COVID-19 Response Office, daily health monitoring of all students, selective COVID-19 testing as necessary, and the expansion of medical services on campus.
Fred Carter, FMU’s president, said the scheduling decision and the accompanying plan sets the University on a prudent course that balances safety and with the desire to return to the classroom.
“Our reopening plan is the product of many long hours of serious deliberation by a very dedicated senior staff,” said Carter. “We’ve consulted with infectious disease specialists and an array of local, state, and federal officials. We’ve followed guidelines and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC), and OpenSmartEDU.com. Our plan has been thoroughly vetted, and we believe it’s a sound and safe plan for what is obviously a very difficult time.”
Carter said FMU considered beginning face-to-face instruction right away, as well as a number of other options. Opening online, he said, allows FMU to maintain an academic schedule that essentially ends before Thanksgiving.
It also gives the university the opportunity to continue to assess the situation in the community and beyond and to phase the return of students to campus. Moreover, it establishes the remote instruction processes at the very beginning of the semester.
Carter said FMU students will see a different campus this fall because of the new protocols and procedures in place, but that they should also expect an energetic campus — with two new academic buildings open — and a vibrant academic and social life.
Resident students, who make up about half of the FMU student body, can move in beginning Aug. 14 and pursue online instruction in their residences, and at other campus venues, for the first three weeks of the semester. Commuting students return to campus on Sept. 8.