We are preparing for a semester unlike any in the history of Ferrum College. Life on campus will be different than it has been in the past, and each of us will need to do our part in making sure we stay safe and healthy, and that we have the greatest experience possible.
The Panther Nation is resilient and creative, and this will serve us well in the weeks ahead.
In preparation for the opening of campus for the 2020-21 academic year, we reached out to our students with a survey about their return to campus. The survey indicated that students intend to return to campus in August for in-seat instruction with social distancing protocols in place. Our Provost, Dr. Aimé Sposato, has assembled a team to create new opportunities for learning and with the potential for a prolonged period of social distancing required by state and federal agencies. Ferrum College must remain nimble for any eventualities this fall. With this in mind, our first day of fall semester begins on Tuesday, August 25. The fall and spring semesters will be separated into two terms: Fall I and II and Spring I and II.
- Term I classes begin on August 25 and end on Monday, October 5. We have scheduled Reading Day for Tuesday, October 6 followed by two exam days, October 7-8. Students will enjoy a break between the two terms from October 9 through October 11.
- Term II classes begin on October 12 and end on Friday, November 20. The Reading Day is scheduled for Saturday, November 21, followed by two exams days, November 23-24.
By dividing each semester into two, 7-week terms and making each course a Hybrid course (50% face-to-face instruction), we are able to meet the needs of all of members of our community and remain as flexible as possible. Every one of our faculty will have completed an intensive Online Teaching Certification so they will be ready to provide high-quality instruction both in the classroom and online.
To be full-time, a student must be registered for both terms and for a minimum of 12 credits and a maximum of 19 credits spread between the two 7-week terms. Faculty are adjusting students’ schedules so everyone is registered for the appropriate courses. With the fall semester ending before Thanksgiving, students will be able to register for the 7-week online Winter Term if they wish to catch up or push ahead. Spring Term classes begin on January 19.
We are committed to the health and safety of our community and are working carefully to adhere to all state and federal guidelines as we modify our classrooms, labs, common areas in the library and the Carter Center for Academic Success, performance spaces, and other high traffic areas for social distancing and sanitizing protocols. We are also considering adding teleconferencing and live-streaming capabilities in more of our classrooms.
In the next several days, we will release our comprehensive return to campus plan that addresses everything from athletics, to housing, to social distancing, to quarantine, to campus move-in, to dining, and more. We are following guidelines provided by the Governor’s office, the CDC, and the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia.
We have a task force in place that includes faculty and staff, Aladdin Dining, Tri-Area Community Health Center, Franklin County Public Safety, and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH). This team is finalizing our plans for fall.
We are eager to welcome you to campus, whether you have been here for years, or whether you are new to the Panther family. This is a community that takes care of one another, and I am confident that by working together, we will have a fabulous fall semester!
David L. Johns, Ph.D.