Office of the President

Wed, Oct 14, 4:30 PM

Dear F&M Community,

As we begin Module 2, I want to pause to recognize the accomplishments of our community, both on campus and off. All of us have taken on unique challenges during COVID-19, and I am proud of the hard work and dedication of our students, faculty, and professional staff. 

To date, we have overcome the challenges of teaching and learning amid a pandemic, and together, we safeguarded the health and well-being of our students, employees, and neighbors while staying true to our mission.

Even as we continue these efforts through to the end of the fall, we are also looking ahead to the spring term. Given the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic and projections for the near future, we are planning for our operations in the spring term to be similar to the way we worked this fall. Understanding that our students and families need to begin planning for their F&M experience next term, we want to share some preliminary information. We will continue to update you over the next few weeks. 

As always, the following dates and procedures are subject to change based on health conditions and emerging guidance from local, state, and federal authorities.

Spring 2021 Decision and Continued De-Densification

  • Barring major unforeseen changes on the local or national level, the F&M campus will open for spring term.
  • De-densifying campus is necessary to reopen. 
    • As we indicated in our original plan for de-densifying campus, we will move ahead with our requirement that the first-year cohort (Class of 2024) will study remotely this spring.
    • First-year students will not be permitted to take leases in approved off-campus housing. A very limited number of first-years for whom remote learning creates a significant hardship will be allowed to apply for permission to live in on-campus housing.
    • All students (including first-years) who live within 75 miles of campus with an immediate adult family member will have the option to commute.
    • Members of the sophomore cohort (Class of 2023) will be invited to return to campus.
    • This plan does not affect transfer students.
  • In the next few weeks, we will send an online form asking students to indicate their spring plans. Students will have the same options for completing their studies as they did in the fall: studying in-person, commuting, or studying remotely. Students who indicate that they plan to return to campus will then receive a communication about spring housing options.

Spring Important Dates

  • A staggered move-in will occur for students residing in college-owned housing. Dates will be announced in the coming weeks.
  • The 2020-21 academic calendar is up to date on the college website. J-term classes begin January 4 and Module 3 classes begin February 1. 
  • In order to minimize travel away from campus, there will be no spring break. Module 4 classes begin March 22.
  • We are currently reviewing our options for the Class of 2021 Commencement ceremony.

Spring Academics and Student Experience

  • Instruction will continue in the same modes as this fall: hybrid (in-person and online) and remote synchronous. Faculty will again choose which format to utilize for their course(s).
  • All courses are available to all our students, whether they are in residence in Lancaster or studying remotely. Classes will be noted as in-person or online-only on the registration portal for the convenience of students as they select their courses. 
  • Registration for J-term and Modules 3 and 4 classes will begin on Monday, November 9 for seniors who will have 24 hours in the system to register for courses. Afterwards, each class, in descending order of seniority, will also have 24 hours. The drop/add period will start on November 16. Drop/add will end for J-Term on January 5.
  • Regarding spring athletics, we will conduct team-related activities during the spring semester for all teams in accordance with NCAA, state and local health guidelines. Students studying remotely (including first-years) will not be able to participate in on-campus practices and activities, but will have remote opportunities to stay connected with their teams. The Centennial Conference has not yet made a decision regarding spring athletic competitions. We will share more information when it is available.

Spring Return to Campus

  • Before returning to campus in the spring, students will be asked to monitor their symptoms daily for at least two weeks, and quarantine if possible.
  • Students and employees living, learning, and working on campus in the spring will participate in entry testing upon arrival to campus.
  • All students returning to campus for the spring will be required to adhere to the F&M Pledge.
  • Mandatory mask-wearing, physical distancing, participation in regular COVID-19 testing, daily symptom checking, and other health and safety protocols will continue in the spring term.

Over the course of the next two months, the Pandemic Operations Response Team (PORT) and senior staff, in consultation with our healthcare consultants, will continue to refine our planning for the spring term and will share information as it becomes available. Although much of the information will remain the same, we have changed the name of the fall 2020 reopening website. It is now the pandemic operations information website so that it encompasses our spring term planning. We will be updating the website’s information over the next several weeks, and encourage you to check it frequently.

We will also be hosting a town hall for students and their families on Wednesday, Oct. 21 at 5:30 p.m. EDT featuring our Pandemic Operations Response Team (PORT). A separate invitation with the Zoom information will be coming soon.

As we all take this opportunity to look forward, I also encourage you to take a moment to reflect on how far we have come. Together, we have developed new ways of teaching, learning, living, and working that allowed us to contain the spread of COVID-19, and in the process, we have all developed skills that will make us more mobile and agile as individuals and as an institution. We transformed challenges into opportunities and problems into innovations. All the while, we demonstrated our deep care for our fellow Diplomats. When I think of what we have achieved thus far, I am confident in the procedures we have put in place and optimistic that we can finish the fall term successfully. The many lessons learned will shape our efforts in the spring, and allow us to emerge strong – and, indeed, better than ever – from this crisis.

With warm regards,

Barbara K. Altmann

President and Professor of French