Freed-Hardeman University President David R. Shannon has announced plans to welcome students back for on-campus instruction in August 2020. “We can’t wait to welcome new students and reunite with returning students on campus,” he said. “We are family, and we love spending time with family. We also want to keep our family safe, and as Lions, we want to Protect the Pride!”
The fall semester will begin Monday, Aug. 10, with the annual Tolling of the Bell ceremony and beginning of classes. The semester will conclude Friday, Nov. 20, prior to what is typically a week-long break for Thanksgiving. The semester will have no holidays or breaks. Winter commencement is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 21.
The FHU COVID-19 Task Force, composed of administrators, health care professionals, faculty and staff, developed the Protect the Pride Plan. “Its framework allows FHU to operate safely, despite varying levels of risk that may be present on campus and in the surrounding communities,” Shannon said. In the event the risk level increases, each area of campus has plans governing the steps each area will take to increase the safety of the campus community.
“Throughout the spring when we were doing classes online, our students and parents let us know how much they value the on-campus experience FHU offers,” Shannon said. “We are committed to serving students while preparing for other challenges our society may face.”
Arrival times, move-in and registration have been adjusted. First-time students will arrive Wednesday and Thursday, Aug. 5 and 6. Returning students have been assigned a specific day for arrival: seniors, Aug. 7; juniors, Aug. 8; and sophomores, Aug. 9. A drive-through registration and check-in process will provide maximum safety for students and parents as they arrive on campus. Interface activities for new students will be conducted Aug. 5-9.
The Protect the Pride Plan involves implementing new procedures to help keep FHU safer. These include: temperature checks; increased sanitation across campus; de-densifying classes; additional hand sanitizers in campus buildings; health assessment reporting via the FHU Protect the Pride Health app for students, faculty and staff; physician and nurse availability in the campus clinic; social distancing; and requiring masks (according to the level of risk).
Students will also see changes in their daily schedules. Chapel, for example, will be conducted twice daily to promote social distancing in Loyd Auditorium. Classes will meet in rooms that increase the distance between students, and they will be dismissed so as to reduce crowding in doorways and hallways.
Campus activities will likely look a little different, but the university is working toward having many of the activities students have enjoyed in the past. When possible, events will be scheduled in open air venues.
The task force expects the fall semester to be a dynamic situation with cycles of increased and decreased risk linked to the number of confirmed cases and exposures on campus and in Chester and Madison Counties. Therefore, they have identified four levels of risk, determined by the level of community spread to communicate in real-time the risk to the campus-community. The four levels are color-coded green, yellow, orange and red. The task force then developed health and safety guidelines based on resources from the Centers for Disease Control, Tennessee Department of Health and other sources.
For example, green indicates there is no to little community spread, although there might be isolated cases. This level encourages adherence to CDC health and safety guidelines. Campus will operate as usual but with heightened awareness, symptom tracking, social distancing and increased cleaning and disinfecting efforts.
Yellow indicates minimal to moderate community spread, with the potential for rapid increase in suspected cases. At this level, masks are required in academic buildings and indoor university-sponsored events. Classes and indoor events cannot exceed 50 percent of the capacity of the space.
Level orange indicates substantial community spread. At this point, CDC health and safety guidelines are required, and campus units will employ mitigation strategies as needed. Masks are required, and classes and indoor events cannot exceed 25 percent of capacity.
Red indicates substantial, continued community spread. At this point, on-campus activities will be suspended.
Shannon said, “For 150 years, Freed-Hardeman has provided a transforming experience for our students, and we are thrilled this fall to offer the same. Our administration has been meeting regularly to prepare to bring our campus community back together. The FHU family is ready to be at home on campus. What has often been taken for granted may be appreciated most this semester.”
Additional information regarding the Protect the Pride Plan is available online at fhu.edu/protectthepride. As further details emerge, they will be posted on this site.