Office of the President

Wed, Oct 7, 9:15 AM

Dear Students,

As we finish the first Module, I write with deep appreciation for your collaboration, patience and flexibility. This fall, many colleges and universities have had to abruptly change their instructional and residential plans. Your understanding of our need to de-densify campus and your adherence to the common-sense precautions required to be on campus have helped F&M’s risk alert level remain at “moderate,” and we have avoided the unfortunate outcome experienced by many of our peers. We hope to continue this strong track record and our pursuit of in-person classes and activities – albeit with the modifications necessitated by the pandemic – as we transition into Module 2.

The disruptions that all of us have had to live with have been hard for every one of us, and in many different ways. Those of you who are studying remotely might have preferred to be here on campus, and have had to manage differences in time zones, wifi access, working conditions, and living arrangements. Those of you who are living and working on or near campus have had other challenges, including the need to pay scrupulous attention to the necessary safety protocols that allow us to continue to live, learn, and work with some in-person interaction. Testing and quarantine procedures have been particularly stressful this fall, especially for those who have been in modified quarantine – sometimes more than once – due to wastewater testing. Right now, the Pandemic Operations Response Team, in partnership with senior staff and our consultants at Keeling & Associates, are reviewing our testing protocols. Our hope is that we can adapt our procedures to continue to protect our campus against the spread of the virus while reducing the stress on our community. 

As you know, the modules move fast, and before we know it, the fall term will be drawing to a close. If you are living on campus, now is the opportune time to review your plans for moving out of your residence hall. Module 2 classes will end Nov. 20. Students in on-campus residences will have until noon on Sunday, Nov. 22, to leave their residence hall and to take all their belongings with them. We will send more details about the campus move-out procedure in an upcoming email.

As a reminder, we will have an extended winter break to avoid returning to campus at the height of flu season and a possible resurgence of COVID-19. One benefit of the new calendar and extended winter break is the addition of a remote January term (J-term). Since J-term comes at no extra charge for students enrolled full-time in either the fall or spring term, I hope many of you will consider taking advantage of this unique opportunity.

We recognize, of course, that students and families also need to begin making plans for spring 2021, and want to know what to expect. With this in mind, we intend to release information regarding spring 2021 beginning next week, with more details to follow over the course of Module 2. For the spring term, the College will continue with the module system and academic calendar as described on our website. We will begin Module 3 on Feb. 1*. As we move forward with spring planning, we will continue to post the latest information on F&M’s pandemic operations website.

Please save the date for a town hall with the members of the College’s Pandemic Operations Response Team (PORT) for students and families on Wednesday, Oct. 21 at 5:30 p.m. EDT. This will be an opportunity to reflect on the successes and challenges of the fall term thus far, and discuss our planning for winter break, spring 2021, and beyond. Look for an invitation in your inbox soon.

To get this far into the fall term with success has taken discipline, fortitude, commitment, optimism, and patience! Thank you again for your adaptability and persistence during the last several weeks, and for all you have done to prioritize your own health along with the well-being of others. Again, if you live on campus, please begin finalizing your plans for move-out at the end of November. My best wishes for a strong finish during this final week of Module 1.

Barbara K. Altmann

President and Professor of French

*Original: We will begin Module 3 on Feb. 3

Correction issued at 12:20 PM: Please note, there is a typo in today’s message: Module 3 classes are scheduled to begin on Monday, Feb. 1 (not Feb. 3). Apologies for any confusion.