F&M Leadership Team leadership@fandm.edu

Wed, Aug 19, 8:30 AM

Dear Franklin & Marshall Students,

We are only a few days from the beginning of the academic year! All of us here at Franklin & Marshall are excited about the opportunity for new beginnings, both on campus and online.

In many ways, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to rethink what it means to be a part of the F&M community and to expand that definition far beyond the corners of our physical campus. One of my great pleasures as F&M’s president has been meeting regularly with students, faculty, parents, alumni, and members of our surrounding community who come together at campus events. I firmly believe those connections strengthen our College.

As we’ve planned to reopen campus, we’ve thought about new ways to uphold time-honored traditions and invite every Diplomat to explore alternative approaches for community engagement. This Sunday, our annual convocation ceremony will gather our first-years, their families, and anyone else who wishes to join us for a virtual welcome from the F&M community. Our biggest event of the fall, True Blue Weekend, which typically doubles the population on our campus, will be replaced by a series of online events sure to elicit your F&M pride and engage hundreds of parents and alumni. And our beloved Common Hour series, a weekly opportunity to gather and discuss an important issue, already has a terrific line-up of speakers, which will be streaming online on Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. EST.

These are just a few examples of the robust virtual programming we will be offering to our far-reaching F&M community. At the same time, we will have a residential population living and learning on campus. Those students have the opportunity to engage with one another in person and the responsibility of adhering to the Franklin & Marshall Pledge and our College’s COVID-19 policies. Accordingly, I am writing to share with you the following policies on visitors to campus, student gatherings, and F&M buildings hours and access. All were recommended by the Reopening Operations Team and approved by the F&M leadership team. 

Campus Visitors

To mitigate health risks, our visitors policy for the fall limits visits from anyone who is not living, learning, or working on F&M’s campus. This restriction includes alumni, parents, students studying remotely, and members of the Lancaster community. All visits  must be suspended and conducted remotely unless they are required for the operation of the College. All internal academic spaces, residential spaces, offices, and social and cultural spaces will be open only to F&M students, faculty and professional staff, with very few exceptions.

We are always grateful for our location at the heart of the Lancaster community, situated close to local attractions like Buchanan Park and North Museum, and our external grounds remain open at present for those traveling through campus. Signs will remind the public that face coverings, physical distancing and other health protocols are required if passing through campus. All campus facilities, including the libraries and the Phillips Museum, are closed to the public. Outdoor recreational spaces, including the Williamson track, remain open to the public at present, subject to compliance with the College’s health protocols and the principles of the Franklin & Marshall Pledge. Organizations wanting track access must be approved in advance by the Department of Athletics and Recreation.

Campus Gatherings

We know that our students returning to campus are eager to see each other and gather in person outside of class; however, our policy on formal and informal gatherings also stresses that whenever possible, campus gatherings should be held remotely. 

While the State of Pennsylvania currently permits indoor gatherings of up to 25 people and outdoor events of no more than 250 people, F&M community members also will need to use face coverings and observe physical distancing at all gatherings, whether planned or spontaneous. The organizers of a gathering will be responsible for observing capacity limits for spaces throughout campus, limiting the duration of all gatherings, and following required sanitizing and cleaning requirements.

As much as possible, we are encouraging outdoor events that follow the College’s health and safety protocols. We will be sharing information soon on outdoor tents that will be erected on Hartman Green and on Williamson Field and can be reserved for student gatherings. 

Distribution of any items and serving food or drink at gatherings is prohibited.

Building Access

To promote the health and safety of our campus community this fall, access to and operation of campus buildings will be reduced or modified. This will support de-densifying campus and provide more time for our Facilities and Operations team to perform enhanced cleaning of buildings.

Academic buildings will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. during the week and closed on weekends. The libraries will be open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. during the week and from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends. The Kreisel Innovation Zone in the Patricia Harris Center for Business, Government & Public Policy will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. during the week and from noon to 10 p.m. on the weekend. The policy also lists specific hours for student gathering spaces, including the Steinman College Center, the Alumni Sports and Fitness Center, and Mayser Gymnasium.

Please note that access will not extend beyond the hours listed, but may be shortened at the discretion of the divisional vice president. Access and building hours may change based on the latest public health guidance. Department of Public Safety officers will not respond to calls to open buildings for anyone outside of operating hours, unless authorized by a senior staff member in the appropriate division.

Students will maintain 24/7 access to their residence; however, access to residential spaces will be limited only to those students living in that facility. All students learning on campus will have access to their College House’s great room during open hours and subject to capacity limits, regardless of whether or not they are living in the House. Please contact your house don or dean for more information. Students will be given card access only to their assigned residence hall and will not be permitted in any other residence hall on campus.

This will be a fall at Franklin & Marshall unlike anything we have experienced before, but the essence of an F&M education will be unchanged. I know I speak for all of us at the College when I say that I eagerly anticipate a day when I can welcome all our students, as well as parents, alumni, and our neighbors in Lancaster, back to all areas of our campus without restriction. 

Time and again, the Franklin & Marshall community overcomes challenges with unflagging determination, remarkable creativity, and inspiring resilience. We will use those same characteristics to provide an exceptional and individualized learning experience for each of our students, whether studying remotely or here on campus, as we move forward, together, despite the challenges of  this next chapter.

Barbara K. Altmann

President, Franklin & Marshall College